How to clean upholstery chairs? Simple Methods + Handy Tips

Enjoy lounging on your sofa chair for Netflix, reading a book, or snacking in your living room. I’m sure the furniture is well fed with crumbs and food stains.  

Cleaning your upholstery can feel intimidating. Where to start? How to start? What tools and equipment will be needed? 

Upholstered chairs are elegantly designed with floral patterns or suede materials. We can’t resist touching its upholstery at a decor shop, can we?

It’s NO.

It would help if you clean upholstered chairs professionally cleaned once or twice alternately. However, if you cannot do that in this time of the Covid Pandemic, worry not; this article will help you ease your mind from the intimidating task of upholstery cleaning.

You can do this cleaning on your own even without the help of a steam cleaner. So, let dive into the article for further details on how to clean upholstery chairs? :

What is upholstery cleaning?

The fabric and padding that decorates your furnishings are upholstered, and the process of cleaning the fabric is called upholstery cleaning.

Similarly, the upholstery cleaning process especially involves steaming, conditioning, rinsing, and vacuuming to eliminate dust, pet hair, hidden food particles, allergens, and funky odor.

The different fabric needs different care

Similarly, upholstery comes in different fabric materials which require special care. 



Leather should be dusted with a dry cloth regularly. Additionally, avoid using leather creams, saddle soaps, or oil treatments treated on leather unless stated by the manufacturer that they may be used. Also, avoid the use of strong detergents or dry cleaning solvents.



Vinyl fabric requires water or a mild detergent. Resort to soft, non-abrasive fabric material to wipe. Choose products that are vinyl safe. Vinyl is water-resistant, but it greases and damages easily.

Can you machine wash it? YES. However, it should be given a slow spin.



It can be cleaned using a cloth and dampened water. Moreover, most stain removal products often warn against their use on velvet, so keep in mind to test for discoloration or distortion before cleaning.

According to Shirley Niemeyer, the majority of velvet cannot be cleaned with water-based cleaning agents.

How to clean upholstery chairs?

Upholstery chairs or some unique types of sofa chairs are high-maintenance units. They require precise cleaning techniques and cleaning agents. In fact, cleaning them is easier if you use the right methods and materials. Next, let us understand the important codes related to upholstery cleaning.

Understanding the cleaning tags


Each fabric comes with a marked code that indicates the appropriate cleaning method. Wherein, these codes are generally printed on:

  • Fabric sample pamphlets,
  • Seat cushions. 
  • Box tags.

 The four most common cleaning codes found on upholstered furniture are: 

WIndicates the use of water-based cleaning agents such as mild detergent or commercial non-solvent upholstery shampoo
SIndicates the use of solvent cleaners. It endorses cleaning the fabric with a gentle solvent or any other suggested cleaning product.
WSWater-Based or Solvent Cleaner
XVacuum only.

Depending on the different types of cleaning agents, there are 5 types of codes for cleaning agents.

D – Detergent and water solution.
S – Non-flammable liquid dry cleaning solvent.
V – White vinegar and water in a 1:1 ratio
AL –  Rubbing alcohol such as isopropyl alcohol
W – Water

Vacuum upholstery

Usually, vacuums come with different attachments. Firstly, remove the cushions before vacuuming, secondly work from top to bottom and left to right. Finally, remember to change to a lower suction speed when cleaning delicate fabrics.

  • Before cleaning, dislodge any dirt, grime, and dust from the nooks and corners, backrest, and armrest.
  • To increase the shelf life of your upholstery, heed the given manufacturer’s manual.
  • Keep dampness at bay.
  • Avoid harsh chemicals.
  • Make it a vacuum regularly.

Spot clean upholstery stains:

1. General Upholstery spot cleaning

To begin with, calling in a professional for spot cleaning can burn a hole through your wallet. In short, try to get rid of the stain at home using some sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) or shampoo. Spot cleaning can prove to be a difficult task.

Worry not; I have summarized some amazing methods to help you successfully get rid of those nasty stains.


  1. Gently dab a little club soda on a clean, white cloth. 
  2. Applying vinegar and blotting it with a soft towel or paper towels.
  3.  Using a gentle blend of cleansing agent and water.
  4. Before every application don’t forget to do a spot test.
White vinegar + Baking soda

Straightaway, mix one cup baking soda, half a cup of liquid soap in a bowl. Water it down with half a cup of water and two tbsp of clear vinegar.

Stir the mixture with a fork to dissolve lumps and apply on the affected spot. Let it dry for 15 minutes before wiping with a damp white cloth.

CLEANING TIPS: As a rule, always wipe the chair surface in a unidirectional manner.

Baking soda + cornstarch + water

You will need ½cup of cornstarch, a small amount of water, and ½ cup sodium bicarbonate. This technique is great for making your upholstery cleaner.

Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl containing water until it forms a thick paste and applies the blend on the blotched spots.

CLEANING TIPs: Wipe the chair with a clean microfiber cloth after drying to remove any drying stains.

Dish soap + Hydrogen peroxide + Baking Soda + Water

Mix a teaspoon of dish detergent and water in a spray bottle and pour hydrogen peroxide into a dark spray bottle. Spray the cloth with detergent water until it is lightly soaked, evenly spray with hydrogen peroxide, and powder with sodium bicarbonate.

Evenly spread or dust the sodium bicarbonate across the surface of the chair. Leave it overnight to completely dry.

CLEANING TIPS: Velvet upholstered chairs can be wiped with a wet towel dipped in soapy water as they are waterproof and don’t stain easily

Baby Wipes

They are shockingly potent as quick fixes in cleaning upholstery  (it is advised first to test the product on any insignificant areas to make certain they won’t damage the upholstery material).

Therefore, it can be applied to different fabric materials as they offer a light solution of water and soap containing very little moisture.

CLEANING TIP: You can directly use them to remove stains as they don’t have harsh chemicals that damage your furniture. In contrast to other wipes, baby wipes are a great alternative for cleaning.

2. Cleaning according to types of stain:

Coffee or tea stains

They are brightly colored stains and often fall into the oxidization stain category.


  • To begin with, mix 1 tbsp of detergent liquid, 1 tbsp of clear vinegar, 2 cups of lukewarm water to make an upholstery cleaner.
  • Take a clean sponge or a white cloth and use plain cold water to remove the cleansing agent.
  •  Using the blotting technique, dry the surface with a clean cloth.
  • Likewise, repeat the preceding steps until the tea stain has lightened or faded.


  •  If the bloodstain has dried, you can use an old brush to brush off any residue before beginning the blotting process gently.
  • Take a small bowl and add some water and club soda into it and mix well. 
  • Use a damp cloth or sponge and begin gently blotting.
  • Take another small bowl and mix  80% water, 10% laundry detergent, and 10% glycerin.
  •  Use a spray bottle and fill it with this mixture. Spray the mixture onto the blood-stained area on the upholstery.
  • With a sponge, begin to gently scrub the area to remove the rest of the bloodstain.
  •  Keep spraying the stained area and scrub out the rest of the stain.
  • Pour some cold water directly after removal of the stain onto the area. 
  • With a clean towel and pat to dry the surface and allow it to naturally dry.

TIPS: If the stains are fresh, immediately treat the fabric with hydrogen peroxide. Start wiping from outside of the stain and slowly work inwards

Grease or oil stains


  • Remove any residue from the fabric surface.
  • Blot the blotched area with a clean dry towel.
  • Gently remove the grease and excess moisture.
  • Refer to the care label of the stained upholstery item for recommended cleaning practices.

TIPS: Place a towel beneath the fabric and generously dust sodium bicarbonate on the wet stain. Next, let it soak the wine for 5 to 10 minutes.

Red wine stains/ball pen or crayon stains
  • Use a clean towel or washcloth and let it soak as much of the liquid as possible. 
  • Dab the stain rather than rubbing it in a circular motion.
  • Mix a tablespoon of dish soap with a tsp of white vinegar, and 2 cups of water.
  • Use a towel to cover the stain with the mixture.
  • Wet another clean cloth and gently dab the area clean.

TIPS: Pour some table salt on the wine stain and prevent it from drying

Deep Cleaning the Upholstery


Liquid laundry detergent and water.

  • First, mix 1/4 cup of warm water coupled with 2 tsp of Castile soap in a container. 
  • Second, use a white dry cloth to dip the cloth into the mixture and wipe the stains. 
  • As soon as the stains are removed, dab a clean, dry cloth to absorb any remaining dampness.
  • Add a little water to remove any suds residues. 

Rinse off the cleaning agent.

Duly rinse off the cleaning agent residues. If not, it will eventually lead to discoloration and cause damage to the furniture. Use a clean damp towel to wipe off the residues. Another key point to remember is to always wipe in one direction to avoid aggressive brushing of the fabric surface.

How to remove odors from furniture fabric?

At present, ever since the pandemic, we have all taken to the couches and chairs, whether it be work from home or online classes. The chairs are bearing the brunt of it all. And, at the same time, I’m sure it smells funky. 

Some factors contributing to the foul odor are oily head blots, furry friends crawling over with dirty feet, and don’t forget to include the popcorn tub you scarfed while binge-watching your favorite show.

Besides baking soda and vodka methods mentioned below, you can also spray fragrance mists as an easy fix.

1. Baking Powder/ sodium bicarbonate:

It is completely non-toxic, neutralizes odors, and can be used as a surface cleaner. On the positive side, sodium bicarbonate is a mild alkali that chemically balances out and neutralizes strong smells caused by strong bases or strong acids.

Sprinkling Sodium Bicarbonate

Rugs and upholstery should be sprinkled generously with baking powder and left to stand 24 hours before vacuuming.

Planning to reupholster upholstery? 

Reupholstering takes a maximum of 3 to 5 days. Wash the fabric before you get brand new covers for the upholstery. If not, the fabric will shrink when you take it for dry cleaning.

TIP: First, remove the original fabric and then sprinkle the stuffing and foam with baking powder. Second, allow it to stand for 24 hours. Finally, vacuum carefully as we don’t want to destroy the stuffing accidentally.

2. Vodka:

Yes, you heard it right. Besides, vodka is used in mixing drinks; it is equally useful as a cleaning agent. For instance, the grain-based liquor removes stains, refreshes fabrics, neutralizes odor, and acts as a disinfectant.

Accordingly, pour a little liquor in a bottle fitted to a spray attachment, and use it directly on the fabric. As a result, the alcohol will get rid of any foul smell when it dries. For rugs and upholstery, spray the furniture with vodka and let it dry.

Spraying Vodka

For the upholstery, you plan to reupholster, remove the fabric covering and spray the stuffing and foam liberally. On the condition that it is dried up, cover it.

Bottom line

In conclusion, I hope you find the above simple methods to clean upholstered chairs seem easy for you. For the most part, removing upholstery stains and revitalizing them can be done by anyone.

However, it is not an easy feat. If you are not confident in cleaning your upholstered chair, do not fret. Get professional help. Not to mention, your upholstered chair will now look brand new, and you need not worry about the stale smell of the old fabric anymore. 

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