how to clean upholsteryRemember how good your couch or favorite chair looked when you first brought it home? Remember how clean and soft the upholstery was?

If stain-free upholstery is a distant memory, it's probably time to start making upholstery cleaning a priority.

This can seem like a daunting task, especially if you have pets that shed or children with a penchant for leaving sticky, brightly colored residue behind wherever they go. We've got good news, though.

Cleaning your upholstery (and keeping it clean) doesn't have to be as difficult as you might think.

Read on to learn how to clean upholstery in just a few simple steps.

Reasons to Clean Your Upholstery

Obviously, your upholstery looks nicer when it's clean and free of crumbs, dirt, and pet hair. But, there are many other reasons to keep in mind besides an improved appearance.

Some other benefits you'll experience when you keep your upholstery clean include:

Keep Your Clothes Clean

Have you ever sat down on a couch covered in pet hair? If so, then you know how irritating it is to try and get rid of that hair before you have to go to work or a party.

When you clean your upholstery regularly, you reduce the risk of looking like a giant fur ball or walking around with other questionable stains on your clothes.

Enjoy Fresh Scents

Clean upholstery smells fresh and clean. If you don't like walking into a room and being accosted by the smell of your pet or your child's favorite snack, be sure to regularly clean your couches, chairs, and other pieces of upholstered furniture.

Maintain a Healthy Home Environment

Keeping your upholstery clean can also promote better indoor air quality. This is especially true for people who have pets.

Vacuuming and cleaning the upholstery gets rid of pet dander, mold spores, and other potential irritants that can exacerbate symptoms of allergies or asthma.

How to Clean Upholstery

Clearly, there are lots of reasons to make upholstery cleaning a priority. But how do you actually keep your furniture fresh and clean?

Follow these simple steps to make upholstery cleaning a breeze.

Check the Tags and Manufacturer's Instructions

Before you start cleaning anything, take a second to look at the manufacturer's instructions and/or the tags on the cushions.

Most tags will feature one of the following letters or letter combinations, which lets you know how you can clean it:

  • W: Can be cleaned using water
  • S: Cannot be cleaned using water -- this means that you'll need to buy a solvent-based cleaner
  • WS: Can be cleaned using water OR a solvent-based cleaner
  • X: Can be vacuumed only

It might be a bit of a pain to search the cushions for the cleaning instructions. But, it will be worth the extra effort. You'll be able to protect your furniture and avoid accidentally voiding a warranty.

Gather Your Supplies

Once you've figured out which supplies you can use to clean your furniture, it's time to gather everything so you have it one place. Besides a solvent-based cleaner (if that's what your furniture requires), you'll also need the following items:

  • Vacuum cleaner with upholstery attachment
  • White or light-colored microfiber cloths (so the color doesn't bleed onto the upholstery)
  • Bucket
  • Distilled water (if your upholstery can be cleaned with water)

If you're cleaning with water, you'll also need some liquid dish soap and distilled white vinegar to make a cleaning solution.

Vacuum Your Upholstery

After you've gathered your materials, it's time to vacuum your upholstery.

Spend about five minutes thoroughly vacuuming the surface, moving from left to right and using short, overlapping strokes. Start at the top and work your way down to the bottom.

If you're vacuuming a delicate fabric like linen or silk, be sure to lower the suction.

Be sure to use a crevice nozzle, too, to suck up dirt and debris from in between cushions. You can also use a can of compressed air to clean out hard-to-reach areas.

Remove Stains

Next, start working on getting rid of stains. Use your cleaning solution of choice (either a water and white vinegar solution or a solvent-based cleaner) and gently rub the stained area. Test it on an inconspicuous spot first.

If you've tried two times to get out a stain and it won't budge, leave it alone and call a professional to come and take a look at it. Trying too hard to remove a stain on your own will just end up causing harm to the fabric.

Spend Time Sudsing

Once you've taken care of stains, it's time to give the entire surface a thorough clean. This step is only for people who are working on upholstery that can handle water.

Mix water with dish soap, dip an upholstery brush into a solution and transfer it to the fabric. Use a light touch and a small amount of the solution to clean the fabric without getting it too wet.

After you've thoroughly cleaned the fabric, wipe it down with a clean, damp cloth. Let it dry completely before you use it again.

If you need to clean the other side of a cushion, do it the next day after the front has totally dried.

How to Keep Upholstery Clean

Once you've cleaned your upholstery, you'll want to keep it that way for as long as possible. These tips can help you maintain your clean upholstery:

  • Keep hairspray handy to use on pen and marker stains
  • Use armrest covers and slipcovers
  • Stick to a consistent cleaning schedule

You might also want to consider using a Scotchguard spray to protect your upholstery from future stains.

Need Help Cleaning Your Upholstery?

Now that you know how to clean upholstery properly, you should be able to handle minor spills and stains on your own. But, what about those stubborn marks that just won't go away?

Sometimes, you need to bring in a professional to get the job done right. If you live in or around northern Virginia, we can help at Astrobrite Carpet Cleaning.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment or get a free cleaning estimate.

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