How to Clean Upholstered Furniture via Clean mama

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

Use a vacuum cleaner upholstery attachment to clean furniture via Clean Mama

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.

Use a lint roller to clean furniture via Clean Mama

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


Cleaning Leather Furniture via Clean Mama

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.

Leather Cleaner:

  • 1 teaspoon Castile soap
  • 1 cup warm water

Use a barely damp  cloth with castile soap on leather furniture via Clean Mama

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.


How to Clean Microfiber via Clean Mama

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!

Upholstered Fabric:

How to Clean Slip Covered Furniture via Clean MAma

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

ALWAYS check the tag on your throw pillows before washing.
  • 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.
I wash my throw blankets with my throw pillows as long as they are the same color – lights with lights and darks with darks. This is a great time saver and way to get both items spruced up at once.