Decorating Ideas
MainDo-It-Yourself GuidesDecorating TipsRoom PlanningBuying GuidesGlossary

4 Tips for Upholstery Cleaning

I. Choose Fabrics that Are Easy to Clean

Be sure that the upholstery choice you make is going to meet the needs of your lifestyle and the room you are shopping for. Do you expect this room to see heavy wear? Will there be excessive opportunity for stains? Do you have children or pets? Below are a few facts about different upholstery options. For leather furniture, see our article on Leather Upholstery Care.
  • Cotton and Cotton Blends: Depending on the weave, cotton can be a very durable upholstery choice. However, although it is highly resistant to wear, it generally does not fare as well against stains. Usually, top-finishes and blended materials take this into account and help make this soft fabric slightly more sustainable. Also, cotton has the tendency to wrinkle easily.
  • Microfiber: Microfiber is a synthetic material that has the comfy, plush feel of suede. It generally wears very well, and readily accepts products that may help it become more stain resistant. Microfiber is great for a family that craves comfort, but can expect a few accidents like spilled juice or soda.
  • Other Common Synthetics: Acrylic and polyester fabrics are also great because these fabrics are strong and also very easy to clean. They are also resistant to static. Olefin is a newer synthetic fabric that is very resistant to staining and wear, but is extremely heat-sensitive. Nylon was the first synthetic fiber and has proven to be a durable substitute for natural fibers for years.
  • Wool: Wool is the fabric choice of many for its comfort, elegance and high-resiliency. Unfortunately, it is not very easy to care for. While some dyes in wool allow for spot cleaning, the only way to ensure little damage to woolen upholstery in cleaning is to have it dry cleaned. Also, wool is not very tolerant to sunlight, and prolonged exposure can cause some fading in upholstery.

II. Apply the Proper Top-Finishes

There are many brands and many kinds of top-finishes for upholstered furniture. Before you apply one yourself, you should be sure to research what each will protect against to make sure you have chosen the right one.
  • Protect Against Water-Based Stains: As most staining substances that your furniture is likely to come into contact with are water-based, it is most important to apply a guard against water-based stains. Usually these top-coats make it so you can easily blot up any spills or accidents on your furniture.
  • Protect Against Oily Residue: Even with protection against water-based stains, there are some things that will stain. You should be sure that you consider oil-based substances and grimy dirt that may come into contact with your furniture. Read the labels of your furniture protestants carefully to find exactly what they will safeguard against.

III. Learn the Furniture Cleaning Codes

Manufacturers have a system of cleaning 'codes' that they label each piece with. Knowing these codes can help you to determine if a piece is actually fit for your home and the kind and amount of use you intend to put it through. Simply take notes on what's listed above the cleaning directions from the fabric sample or "flag." If you are unsure of the cleaning codes, you can go back to the point of sale, where they should be able to look up the codes for you. Below are a list of the most common furniture care codes.
  • W: The code "W" means that your furniture should be able to be cleaned with water.
  • S: The code "S" means that a furniture cleaning solvent can be used on your piece.
  • SW: The code "SW" means that both water and solvent can be used to clean your furniture.
  • X: This code means that you should not apply water or solvents to this particular piece of furniture, and instead should clean it using a soft brush, or in the case of deep staining, by taking the upholstery to be dry cleaned.

IV. A Simple Solution to Spot Cleaning Stains

So dripping ice cream found its way to your favorite sofa? Your first reaction may be to reach for the water bottle and start spraying, but don't! Spraying water directly on upholstery can cause a water ring. Here's what to do instead:
  1. Start by scraping excess food off with a dull edge.
  2. Dampen a microfiber towel by spraying it with water.
  3. Using a circular motion, work the towel over the stain towards the center of the stain.
  4. Rinse the cloth and repeat as necessary until the stain is removed.
Remember: Always test new methods or products in an inconspicuous spot first; no two pieces of furniture are the same, and may require different care.

Let's Talk Style

Sign up to get design inspiration,
special offers and more!

Thanks!

We'll be in touch soon.

Start Shopping Now