Cleaning Upholstery FAQs

Dust settles on upholstered furniture just as on hard surfaces, and should be removed regularly, about once a month, depending on environment and use, with vacuum cleaner attachments - the upholstery nozzle and crevice tool. A brush will remove some dust if you do not have a vacuum, but will also scatter dust around. However, down-filled cushions that are not lined with down-proof ticking should be brushed, as vacuum may draw out down. Reduce greasy soil in air by use of range hood when cooking; clean furnace filters reduce soil in air.

Arm and headrest covers of matching or harmonizing fabric protect those areas against early build-up of soil from skin and hair. In summer, if people will be sitting on furniture in shorts, cover with washable throws, sheets, or large pieces of terrycloth to protect from body soil.

(Note: Commercial upholstery shampoos do a good job and are easy to use. However, if you wish you can use the following homemade preparation.)

  • Combine 1/4 cup liquid dish detergent or laundry detergent and 1 cup warm water.
  • With a hand mixer, whip until dry suds form (the suds will look like whipped cream).
  • Test upholstery in an unnoticeable area by applying dry suds with a cloth or soft brush and lightly scrubbing.
  • Allow to dry.
  • If the area looks the same but cleaner, the entire piece of upholstery may be cleaned in this manner.
  • Shampoo only a small area at a time and use a spatula or rubber scraper to lift off dirty suds.
  • Repeat if necessary, then wipe area with a clean cloth dipped in clear water and wrung nearly dry.
  • Dry completely.

Tip: Keep upholstery as dry as possible while shampooing to prevent damage. For quick drying, open windows or turn on an electric fan, a dehumidifier, or an air conditioner in the same room

Most upholstered furniture sold today has a label or tag telling how it should be cleaned as explained under "Fabric Cleaning Code Labels." Follow those instructions for best results!