Safe DIY Methods For Cleaning Upholstery
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Safe DIY Methods For Cleaning Upholstery

You want to be proud of your home and excited when guests arrive, but we know life happens.  That’s why it’s important to keep your upholstery clean and presentable. But keeping your furniture spotless and tidy can often seem like a daunting task. Here are several tips and methods to help you stay on top of soiling and mitigate damage from spills.

Leather or Fabric

The answer to this question won’t just affect the type of spot cleaner to use; it will also impact the method you choose to employ. Different types of leather and different finishes dictate different approaches and limitations.  And for fabric, things can get more complicated, as different blends of fabric may require different types of cleaning agents, as well.

To identify which cleaning agent should be used, locate the furniture’s upholstery tag. It should have some codes on it, such as the following:

  • “W” for a water-based cleaner
  • “S” for dry cleaning solvents or water-free products
  • “WS” can use both
  • “X” for professional cleaning only

Not using an appropriate spot cleaner can also damage upholstery, so make sure to always consult the tag (and your local professional) before beginning your spot cleaning efforts.

Vacuum Furniture

That said, regardless of material, it’s best to start any upholstery cleanup by vacuuming the furniture. Dry soil removal is a critical component of regular maintenance as it picks up all loose dust and pet hair. Skipping this step and going straight to applying polish or cleaner can cause the dirt to stick more to the upholstery, instead of removing it. Regularly vacuuming pet hair and dust particulates from your upholstery will help to keep it looking cleaner longer. Additionally, your furniture is acting as an air filter to keep loose particulates from being airborne. This “filter” needs to be emptied by means of regular vacuuming!

Pro Tip: most vacuum cleaners have special attachments for upholstery, so make sure to use that for a better cleaning experience!

No vacuum?
Use a brush or a lint roller to remove dirt instead. This may take more time and is a little less effective at removing all particulate soil.

Stains on Upholstery

If the material of your upholstery dictates it may not be harmed by moisture cleaning methods, you may want to begin your spotting efforts with cool water and a mild spotting agent. Pettyjohn’s Cleaning sells a highly effective yet mild spot cleaner for interim maintenance spotting. Always test an inconspicuous area before attempting any spot cleaning.  Check out our Spot & Spill Removal page for more tips on spot cleaning. We also offer a great resource in the form of tutorial videos, found on YouTube at

Upholstery Cleaner

Other tools and solutions can be also used to lift spots. A hand-held steam cleaner can often help lift stubborn stains from fabric upholstery, using just water. Meanwhile, a whipped detergent solution can be also used to help lift stubborn spots. Just mix a full glass of cool water and 2 drops of dish detergent with a hand mixer. Use a white towel to gently blot in the solution; then rinse it out with water. Using as little cleaning agent and water as possible will help to prevent the potential for water marks as the item dries.

If these methods are not enough, then it’s time to call in a professional upholstery cleaner like Pettyjohn’s Cleaning of Raleigh North Carolina. We offer professional upholstery cleaning, servicing Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and The Triangle areas. Once your upholstery is clean, you may consider applying Fiber ProTector for long lasting clean results!

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