While manufacturers often recommend professional cleaning, many spots and stains can be treated at home without risk to the furniture. To help you decide, consider three main factors:
- Fabric type
- Size and location of stain
- Type of stain
First, I always look at the manufacturer’s label to identify the fabric content. (If necessary, ask your retailer or check with the manufacturer). If the fabric is synthetic, you can usually safely clean it at home, since synthetic fabrics were designed for ease of care. If the fabric is a natural/synthetic blend, however, use caution and test a small, hidden patch first. If the upholstery is more than 50% cotton, professional cleaning may be your best bet if the stain is large, dark or in a very noticeable area.
The easiest upholstery stains to clean are those that are treated while they are still fresh. The hardest to clean are grease and oil. Any very large stain may be best left to a professional. Some tips on increasing your chance of successful results:
- Moisture is not your friend. Use as little water as possible to clean upholstery. Try a spot remover first, but if you must use a water-based approach, use it sparingly for best results.
- Upholstery sprays are inexpensive and often work well on organic stains, but they are ineffective on grease or oil.
- Baby wipes are surprisingly effective for cleaning upholstery because they deliver the right amount of soap and water, are quite gentle, and evaporate quickly.
- Coffee Stains: Combine a small amount of dish detergent, water and vinegar and dab sparingly until coffee disappears.
- Mold or mildew: Mix a quarter cup of hydrogen peroxide and a quarter teaspoon of color safe bleach. Lightly rub the stain with a clean cloth dipped in the solution. Rub area with fresh water applied sparingly and let dry.
- Stubborn Stains:
CRAYON: Try using non-gel toothpaste to remove crayon marks from water-safe upholstery. Rub it gently on the surface, a small section at a time, then wipe off with a damp cloth.
GREASE OR OIL: Sprinkle salt, cornstarch or talcum powder on the spot as soon as you discover it. Rub in carefully, allow grease to lift off upholstery and absorb into spot remover. Brush off grease and powder and wipe with a damp cloth.
Did you know you can reduce overall grime and soiling of your upholstered furniture by vacuuming it regularly? Special upholstery attachments for your vacuum system can make it easy to reach small corners and creases, and are safe for use on fabrics. Vacuum furniture at least every two months, or weekly if you have pets or allergies.