Upholstery Cleaning & Stain Removal Tips - Elegant Interior

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The Complete Guide to Upholstery Care: Cleaning and Stain Removal Tips

Upholstered furniture adds a touch of elegance and comfort to our homes, but it also requires proper care and maintenance to stay looking its best. Whether it's your beloved sofaarmchair, or dining room chair, knowing how to clean and remove stains from upholstery is essential. In this complete guide, we'll provide you with expert tips and techniques to keep your upholstery looking fresh and inviting.

1. Regular Maintenance

Before delving into stain removal, establish a routine for regular upholstery maintenance:


Dust and debris can settle into the fabric, leading to premature wear. Use a soft brush attachment to gently vacuum your upholstered furniture regularly. Pay special attention to crevices and seams where dirt can accumulate.

Fluffing and Rotating Cushions

To maintain the shape and even wear of cushions, fluff them regularly, and consider rotating them if possible.

Sunlight Protection

Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can fade and weaken upholstery fabric. Position your furniture away from direct sunlight or use curtains and blinds to shield it.

2. Understanding Upholstery Codes:

Before attempting any cleaning or stain removal, it's crucial to understand the upholstery code on your furniture's tag. These codes guide the appropriate cleaning methods. The four common upholstery codes are:

cleaning code
  • W: Water-based cleaning agents are safe.
  • S: Only use solvent-based cleaners.
  • WS: You can use both water-based and solvent-based cleaners.
  • X: Vacuum or brush only; no liquid cleaning.

Adhering to the manufacturer's recommended cleaning methods will prevent damage to your upholstery.

3. Immediate Stain Treatment:

Accidents happen, and when they do, quick action can prevent a stain from setting permanently. Here's a general approach to tackle stains:

Blot, don't rub

Use a clean, white cloth or paper towel to blot the stain gently. Rubbing may push the stain deeper into the fabric.

Work from the outside in

Start at the outer edge of the stain and gradually move toward the center to prevent it from spreading.

Test a hidden area

Before using any cleaning solution on the stain, test it on an inconspicuous area of the upholstery to ensure it won't cause discoloration or damage.

4. Common Stain Removal Tips:

a. Water-Based Stains (Upholstery Code W):

  • For stains like coffee, tea, or juice, use a mixture of mild liquid detergent and warm water.
  • Blot the stain with the detergent solution and a clean cloth until the stain is gone, then blot with water to remove the soap residue.
  • Pat the cleaned area dry with a clean cloth.

b. Solvent-Based Stains (Upholstery Code S):

  • Stains like oil, grease, or ink require a solvent-based cleaner.
  • Apply a small amount of the recommended solvent to a clean cloth and gently blot the stain.
  • Blot with a clean cloth to remove excess solvent.

c. Combination Stains (Upholstery Code WS):

For stains that require a combination of water-based and solvent-based cleaning, start with the water-based method and then move on to the solvent-based method if necessary.

d. Specialty Stains:

  • Wine stains: Blot gently with club soda or white wine, then follow with water and mild detergent.
  • Blood stains: Use cold water and mild detergent; avoid hot water as it can set the stain.

5. Professional Cleaning

professional cleaning

While many upholstery cleaning tasks can be handled at home, it's a good idea to have your upholstery professionally cleaned periodically. Professional cleaners have the equipment and expertise to deep clean and refresh your furniture, extending its lifespan and maintaining its appearance.

6. Preventative Measures:

Prevention is often the best approach to upholstery care:

  • Use slipcovers: Consider using slipcovers to protect your upholstered furniture from spills, pet hair, and daily wear and tear.
  • No eating or drinking: Avoid eating or drinking on upholstered furniture to minimize the risk of stains.
  • Pet protection: Use pet-friendly furniture covers or provide pets with their designated spots to avoid damage.

7. Dealing with Odors:

If your upholstery develops odors, follow these steps:

  • Sprinkle baking soda evenly over the fabric.
  • Allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes (or overnight for stubborn odors).
  • Vacuum up the baking soda using a brush attachment.

8. Cleaning Different Upholstery Materials:

Each upholstery material has its unique cleaning requirements:

  • Leather: Use a leather cleaner and conditioner to maintain the suppleness and shine of leather upholstery.
  • Microfiber: Rubbing alcohol or a microfiber-specific cleaner works well for cleaning microfiber upholstery.
  • Velvet: Brush gently with a soft-bristle brush and avoid using water-based cleaning agents that can damage the fabric.

In conclusion, proper upholstery care involves routine maintenance, prompt stain removal, and understanding the upholstery code on your furniture. By following these cleaning and stain removal tips, you can enjoy the beauty and comfort of your upholstered furniture for years to come, creating a welcoming and inviting atmosphere in your home.