July 23, 2015
How to Clean Upholstered Furniture
One of my favorite parts of my job here at Clean Mama is helping my readers with their cleaning and organizing questions. Earlier this year I opened up my blog to my readers to submit their biggest cleaning issues, conundrums and questions. I’ve covered quite a few questions (see here) and this week I’m covering a new one: furniture cleaning and freshening.
Regardless of the rules you have in your home surrounding your furniture, it doesn’t take long for errant fingerprints, dirt, food remnants and pet stains to mar the surface. It sounds as though many of you are perplexed as to how to best care for your furniture so I’m here to help.
First Things First
Before we go through furniture care for different materials, let’s talk about what to do first. Regardless of what your furniture is made of, I like to start by removing those larger crumbs and odds and ends that tend to hide. Begin by removing all cushions and pillows. I like to use the crevice tool attachment on my vacuum under cushions and in the seams and cracks first. Next, follow up with the upholstery tool attachment. Make sure that it is clean before you begin so you don’t risk spreading old dust and dirt all over. Run this attachment over cushions, arms, back and sides of the furniture.
If you have pets and lots of pet hair on your upholstered furniture, I recommend keeping a lint roller handy. A quick swipe over the furniture will keep the pet hair, oils, and dander from building up over time. If you have kids and pets, this is a great job to hand over to the kids.
Next, let’s take a look at just how to best freshen up and care for your furniture material by material. Before trying anything drastic, I always recommend checking with the manufacturer to see what they recommend for care. While none of the suggestions and recipes I am sharing are harsh, it’s always best to look at the directions or contact the manufacturer if you are unsure.
Note: all these recipes and many more can also be found in my book “The Organically Clean Home“
Leather is really good at hiding dirt and grime, the darker the better. Even though it may not look dirty, trust me, it is! Leather is thankfully easy to wipe up and is durable, so it doesn’t take much effort to care for it. All that I use for cleaning my leather is a simple two ingredient cleaner.
- 1 teaspoon Castile soap
- 1 cup warm water
Combine the soap and water in a cap with a bottle and shake well to mix. Using a clean microfiber cloth, pour a small amount on the cloth and wipe on to the surface. You don’t want to use too much soap and water to avoid saturating. Work in small sections and dry immediately.
Microfiber is a popular furniture material due to its durability and wear and tear factor. It still seems to attract dirt, water stains and fingerprints. I highly recommend checking with the manufacturer to see if you can wash the slipcovers of your microfiber furniture before you spend the time cleaning the whole thing. Washing them does wonders for bringing back that almost new look and feel. Regardless of whether you can wash them or not, let’s talk about how to freshen up your microfiber with a three ingredient cleaner.
Microfiber Furniture Cleaning Kit:
- 4-8 ounces rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle
- White or light colored sponge that has a scrubbing surface
- Bristled cleaning brush with white bristles
Working in small sections, spray the alcohol on the surface of the furniture. Using the textured side of the sponge, scrub the surface with enough effort to clean. Repeat this over the entire surface, concentrating especially on the arms, sides and back where dirt accumulates. Let the furniture dry completely before fluffing up the fibers. Using the scrubbing brush, scrub in a circular patters until no brush strokes remain. Continue until the piece is uniformly brushed and refreshed. That’s it!
Just like with microfiber, I recommend that you check with your manufacturer to see if you can wash the slipcovers of your upholstered furniture. It’s amazing what a good washing will do to brighten it up.
This recipe is perfect for those little drips, dots and spills.
Upholstered Fabric Cleaner:
- 2 teaspoons Castile soap
- 1/4 cup warm water
Mix the warm water and soap in a small cup or container. Using a white cotton cloth, dip the cloth in to the mixture and dab on to those stains. Once the stains are removed, use a clean, dry cloth to absorb any liquid that remains. Add a little water to remove any residual soap. Alternatively, you can also use a cotton swab if the spot is itty bitty.
As long as you are freshening up your furniture, don’t forget about those throw pillows. Here’s a quick how-to:
How to Wash Throw Pillows
If a throw pillow has a cover, remove it and launder the cover separately from the pillow.
Even if the pillow insert cannot be laundered, it can be tossed in the dryer on high heat with some clean tennis balls to ‘fluff’ it up. The heat from the dryer will help to remove dust and eliminate some germs and smells.
Wash pillow covers inside-out on cold and gentle if needed.
Dry pillow cases in the dryer on low or no heat to ensure no shrinking or line dry.
Can’t remove the cover? and you cut off the tag? try washing on gentle/cold – chances are it’ll be fine.
This comes at a perfect time! Cleaning my microfiber couch is on my list of things to do, and I had no idea where to start with the dirt. Thanks for the tips!
Hi, Becky! For leather it just says, “1 Warm water”. How much water do we mix with the soap? Thanks!!
Becky SaysPost author
It’s one cup of warm water – I’ll correct the post, thank you!
The leather cleaner looks great to clean the leather seats in my car! Can I add a drop or so of essential oil to the mix?
Becky SaysPost author
good afternoon Becky,
So I have a microfiber couch same color as ours maybe a little lighter shade of tan and its only 2 months old. my nephew wrote on it with a black permanent marker, any tips on how to get that stain out :((((. the company says the warranty does not cover marker only ink which to me is ridiculous because that seems the same to me. please help.
Becky SaysPost author
Try the microfiber solution in the post with the rubbing alcohol 🙂
Do you think the microfiber solution you have would work on a urine stain on my childs mattress? I’ve already tried spraying with white vinegar then sprinkling with bi-carb (several times) but the smell is still there.
Becky SaysPost author
It’s worth a try!
When my kids were small, if they wet the bed I would sprinkle a good amount of baking soda on the mattress where wet and throw a large towel over the spot. return a new clean sheet on until morning. It is absorbed and no smell 🙂 …if your stain is old then I would try rewetting the area and washing with the solution becky stated then do the same, put good amount of baking soda on and cover with a towel and let dry. Hope it helps!
Try a steam cleaner
Missy Mason Says
Ok I got a chuckle out of this because it’s something I would do… For the leather cleaner it say combine soap and water in a cap with a bottle on it and shake well… Thanks for showing me I am not the only person who gets a little mixed up!!!????????
Rosetta Evans Says
Thanks for the tip on cleaning mircrofiber couch. I had a blood spot where someone set on a chair and they left a spot . I tried the alcohol and then it didn’t make a big difference. I used hydrogen peroxide let it soak and then reapplied procedure with the alcohol and I think it is taking care of the stain. I will let you know for certain when it dries completely.
What kind of cleaner would you use on a microsuede couch, without causing water spots?
Becky SaysPost author
I would use the rubbing alcohol technique in the post 🙂
judy martin Says
What would you use on furniture uphostery that needs dry cleaning not washable. A more velvety fabric.
b r SaysPost author
I would probably look to have velvet professionally cleaned.
I work in the furniture industry and for leather I would recommend checking with the store you bought from on leather care because you want to do the right thing based on the type of leather (natural or protected) and don’t want to void any warranties :).
Anne Catherine Says
THANK YOU!!! I just cleaned my microfiber arm chair, and it’s like brand new!! I started getting embarrassed for how grimey it was, and I left it that way mainly because I didn’t know what to do…until CleanMama!! Thank you! The alcohol worked like a charm. I’ll also add I don’t hate cleaning bathrooms anymore. Definitely not as big of a deal looming over me anymore. I’m so thankful for you!!
Clean Mama SaysPost author
So great to hear about your amazing results Anne Catherine!
Yesim Peddy Says
HI Becky! Thanks so much fr the tips. I just bought a couple really great chairs on consignment. They have custom upholstery that is removable. The fabric is a mix of fabric and soft ultra suede (velvet?) in the pattern. My problem is that I noticed an unpleasant vanilla scent coming from the chairs. I’d like to wash the slip covers but am afraid they might shrink or something. Any suggestions for freshening them up in place?