DIY Upholstery Cleaning Tips

by Reader Contributors

DIY Upholstery Cleaning Tips photo

If your ‘professional clean only’ upholstered furniture could use a good cleaning, perhaps there is no need to overpay a pro. Use these DIY upholstery cleaning tips instead.

Dear Dollar Stretcher,
I wanted to know if anyone has cleaned a “professional clean only” piece of furniture on their own. I have a recliner that needs to be cleaned and I just don’t have the money to pay a professional cleaner to do it.

I’m tempted to use our Bissel power steamer’s upholstery attachment with either water or a water and vinegar solution. Any suggestions or tips for DIY upholstery cleaning?

Tips for DIY Upholstery Cleaning

Our frugal readers always have the best money-saving tips for cleaning things and upholstery was no exception. See if one of their DIY upholstery cleaning tips might be a good solution for your furniture.

Areas of Concern When Cleaning Upholstery

As someone who used to clean upholstery for a living, let me offer some advice. If you decide to clean your recliner yourself, first keep in mind that you do not want to get the fabric too wet. Although it may seem that more water will allow you to remove more stains, the moisture is, in fact, your fabric’s worst enemy.

Try to presoak the stains with a fabric cleaner (as mild as possible) before actually putting any water on the fabric. Then, when extracting the water, be sure to get as much out of the chair as possible. Also, avoid getting any metal portion of the chair (including pillow zippers) wet, as they will rust. The other most important thing to consider is what kind of fabric your chair is made of.

Synthetic fibers (polyester, etc.) are fairly easy to clean without ruining the color or the fabric. If, however, your cushions use more than 50% cotton or especially if they use a fabric called Haitian cotton, I would bite the bullet and have them professionally cleaned (these fabrics require special chemicals to clean and are just too easy to ruin if you don’t know what you’re doing).

Finally, avoid using vinegar or anything acidic as these will definitely damage the fiber (always test any cleaner on a non-visible area of the chair before starting).

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Baby Wipes Clean Upholstery

You would be amazed with what baby wipes do. My sister-in-law has a cleaning business and doesn’t use anything abrasive. She told me that she uses baby wipes to clean furniture.

When I had my own child, and a whole new category of spills, I tried her suggestion out. I was amazed with how well it worked. There isn’t too much water and soap, but enough to get stains and dirt out.

Spray Upholstery Cleaner Worked Great

I cleaned a couch with spray upholstery cleaner and it came out beautiful! It had been in a house with animals, so it smelled like dogs and cats, but after I cleaned it, it smelled good and looks like new!

I did, however, follow the recommendation on the can and test a small spot on the back of the couch first to make sure it would not damage the upholstery!

Know Your Fabric

I too thought I could steam clean my sofa. Fortunately, I still had the information from the manufacturer on the fabric content (mine is 51% rayon, 49% polyester), and called to see what they recommended. If I had steam cleaned it, the fabric would’ve shrunk horribly and my wonderful sofa would’ve been ruined. I checked the info I received with a reputable cleaner I know, and it was confirmed.

If you still have the fabric information, it’s best to find out what the contents are. I’m going to have my sofa “foam” or “dry-cleaned.”

Gold Mine Discovered at Wal-Mart

I have found a gold mine! Get some Tuff Stuff at Wal-Mart, grocery, auto store etc. Try it on an inconspicuous spot for color fastness, then clean away!

My husband has a recliner that is over 12 years old, sits in it every day and it got horrendously dirty. I had a couple of professionals try to clean it, but to no avail. Dad told me about this stuff. I bought it, used it and that chair is as clean as the day it was bought! Use it on pet stains, clothing stains etc. It’s fantastic stuff for DIY upholstery cleaning!

Dry Clean With Dryel

We had great success cleaning my husband’s “no water” recliner with Dryel dry cleaning cloths. It was faster, easier and less smelly than the upholstery cleaner we used on the water-cleanable recliner. It took 2 of the cloths (it was really filthy!), and it looks, feels, and smells great!

Reviewed November 2022

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