How to Clean Upholstery

Upholstery is part of our daily lives, isn’t it? Choose the right furniture and it can really add personality to your room. Well, until it becomes dirty that is. Those that care for their homes are constantly trying to stop stains and smells from embedding themselves into the furniture. Sadly however, it is inevitable that there will be that one stain that you are unable to clean. What happens then? Well, in this article we are going to walk you through how to clean upholstery in the most effective way.

One of the first things that you need to bear in mind when you clean upholstery is to take a little look at the label that can be found attached to the fabric. This little label is going to have an absolutely vital information about what you need to clean the material with. There you will see one of the four letters:

W = Water based cleaning only
S = Solvent based cleaning only
SW = Solvent and water-based cleaning
X = Professional cleaning only

Did you know that your upholstery can be made from a number of different materials? Nowadays, the most common materials for your upholstery are synthetic. Not only are they cheaper (which is great for the manufacturers and consumers), but many of the fabric materials are designed to get repel stains. This means that if you clean them as soon as possible, that stain won’t be hanging around for long.

The most common of the synthetic fabrics are polyester, nylon and acrylic. It is highly likely that your upholstery will be made from a combination of these. Thankfully, if you are looking to clean upholstery these are easy materials to work with. All you need to do is grab some water-based cleaning fluid. These contain absolutely no chemicals which make them safe to use on your furniture. You may actually find that if you are quick enough, a standard baby wipe may even be able to wipe that fabric clean! However, we don’t suggest jumping straight in there to clean upholstery. Instead you should rub a tiny bit of cleaner somewhere on the furniture, out of sight of course. If you do this then you can check whether any discoloration occurs to the fabric. If it doesn’t, then you can move on and clean the stain away. Many people don’t actually do this and they end up with discolored furniture, and that isn’t going to look good is it? A good tip here is to blot the stain as opposed to rubbing it. It will clean it far quicker. In addition to that, dry it with a fan. Do not let it dry naturally or you run the risk of a ring forming on the furniture (not good!).

If you are looking to clean upholstery then you should bear in mind that not all synthetic materials clean up this way. This means you should check whether you are going to be dealing with a vinyl material or not. If you are, then you will need to use a mild-detergent based cleaner to eradicate those stains and smells. A water-based cleaner simply will not work.

The second most popular type of material you may encounter is a combination material. This is where some of the material is synthetic and the rest is natural. This normally means that it is a 50% cotton blend. If you have this type of material then it isn’t recommended that you clean it yourself. You may find that you can clean upholstery of this nature using a water-based cleaner to prevent damage, but this isn’t always going to work. In fact, many people suggest that you contact a professional to have these cleaned. Although you could look into a few of the methods they use such as steam cleaning if you wish to give it a go. Remember, there are a lot of steam cleaners on the market now, many of them hand held at incredibly low prices.

Some pieces of upholstery are also made from natural materials e.g. cotton and the like. For those most part, you can clean upholstery of this nature on your own, unless it is marked with a big X of course, then you will need to get in touch with a professional. It is suggested that you only opt for water-based cleaners if you are dealing with natural materials. It is also important to note that you shouldn’t use too much cleaner. As you are probably aware (or have discovered the hard way) using a lot of water has the potential to shrink natural materials, and in the best case scenario will leave water rings, which are all but impossible to remove. Again, you should check whether any discoloration of material occurs before you clean upholstery, so do it somewhere out of sight!

Nowadays, many pieces of furniture are being sold based on the fact they use microfiber upholstery. The theory is that this is much easier to clean, and for the most part it is. When you want to clean microfiber all you need to do is vacuum the furniture. You can then whip out a dry brush and scrub gently. This should lift the stain or grime straight off the furniture, no hassle involved! Remember, you shouldn’t scrub too hard or otherwise this may cause significant damage to the color of your furniture.

Finally, and this applies for all materials, you should avoid getting water onto any metal components when you clean upholstery. They can easily rust, and that is going to present you with a huge problem which is going to be impossible to solve (or at least very expensive)!

Hopefully, this has given you a brief overview on how you can clean upholstery using various products. Remember, always pay attention to that label on your upholstery and you should be fine. In the rare event it gives you no indication, don’t forget to take a little look at the material it is constructed from. Under no circumstances should you clean upholstery without knowing what you are doing. That is just a recipe for disaster.