Everything you need to know about furniture and upholstery cleaning
You don’t think much about upholstery until someone spills coffee, a pet mistakes your chair for a tree or the baby barfs. Professional upholstery cleaning can be expensive. Rates depend on the type and square footage of the material. An 8-foot-long sofa cleaning service can cost about $150. It adds up – especially if you clean your furniture annually - which is recommended.
DIY furniture cleaning
For small furniture messes, cleaning upholstery yourself is a safe and easy option that may save you money and preserve your furniture. Learn what the upholstery tags on your furniture mean before you DIY (look under cushions or check manufacturer’s website):
W or WS = clean with a water-based cleaner
S = dry cleaning solution, do not use water (we recommend professional cleaning for S upholstery because dry-cleaning solutions typically contain toxic chemicals).
X = professional cleaning only
Follow these furniture cleaning tips:
Test cleaning products for colorfastness and shrinkage in an area you can’t see before spot-cleaning upholstery and furniture. Here’s how to make your own non-toxic, environmentally-safe water-based cleaner: mix one cup of warm water with ¼ dishwashing soap in a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer, beat until liquid becomes a thick foam.
Remove furniture cushions
Vacuum surfaces thoroughly with vacuum attachment
With a soft-bristled brush, rub foam cleaner onto fabric
Remove foam with a spatula
With a clean, damp cloth, and wipe away remaining suds
Use care: Too much water can leave stains and cause fabric shrinkage
Keep cleaning solution away from wood accents
Let dry completely
For leather upholstery:
Make your own cleaner by adding a few drops of moisturizing soap to a damp washcloth.
Wipe the off the soap solution gently and rinse with another damp washcloth
Buff with a dry washcloth
Other furniture cleaning tips:
To extend the life of your upholstery, clean it every 18 months or more frequently. In between cleanings, vacuum thoroughly every two weeks and treat stains right away. Use a paper towel or washcloth, blot wet stains, avoid rubbing; it can be abrasive and damage the fabric. Work your way from the outside in to avoid spreading the stain more.
For solid food spills, scoop up with a spatula, the spot-treat with a stain remover.
When to call professional cleaners
When DIY advice isn’t removing the red-wine from Aunt Kathy’s antique sofa or stubborn pet stains, like oil and hair, call the professionals. They use special chemical cleaners to clean all kinds of furniture and use special tools to reach intricate corners and other areas of complexity. Upholstery damage in the family room and dining room upholstery are the most commonly professionally cleaned areas often because of the wood-and-fabric combination.
Typically, the cleaner comes to your home, but in challenging cases or if the fabric highly specialized, they’ll take your heirloom piece to the shop for treatment.
Is your furniture under warranty?
Cleaning warrantied furniture on your own may invalidate the warranty. Re-read the warranty and if professional cleaning is required, discuss the warranty with the professional upholstery cleaner before work begins. Still uncertain? Call the company that holds the warranty.
For more information, see 5 DIY tips for cleaning household upholstery.