Types of Upholstery
Some fabrics will be ruined if cleaned with water-based cleaners. You can usually find the care tag under a cushion or on the bottom of the upholstered piece.
For the best cleaning results, take the time to locate the tag and follow its guidelines:
Code W: The fabric can be cleaned with water-based cleaning solvents like those you can make yourself.
Code S: The fabric should only be cleaned with a dry cleaning or water-free solvent to remove stains and soils.
Code W-S: The upholstery fabric can be cleaned with either water-based or solvent-based products.
Code X: When you see the “X” avoid any type of cleaning agent. These fabrics should only be cleaned by vacuuming or by a professional. Any type of cleaning product can cause staining and shrinking.
If there is no tag, you will need to do some testing in an inconspicuous area to see how the fabric reacts when treated. For all upholstery, it is important not to over-saturate the fabric with moisture, which can encourage mold growth.
Homemade Upholstery Cleaner for Fabric and Faux Leather
This cleaning solution is good for cotton, linen, and blended fiber upholstery including outdoor fabrics. It also works well to clean vinyl or faux leather upholstery.
Mix the Cleaning Solution
Combine one-half cup distilled white vinegar, one teaspoon Castile liquid soap, and one cup of warm water in a spray bottle. You can also add a few drops of essential oils for fragrance.
Label the Solution
Label the bottle unless you plan to use all of the solution immediately.
Vacuum the Upholstery
Vacuum the upholstery well to remove as much soil as possible.
Apply the Cleaner
Spritz on the cleaner lightly starting at the top of the furniture. Work in a small area and use a microfiber cloth to wipe down the fabric, lightly scrubbing any heavily stained areas.
Rinse and Dry
Dampen a clean microfiber cloth with clean water and do a final wipe-down to “rinse” the fabric. Allow the upholstery to air-dry.
Homemade Upholstery Cleaner for Microfiber and Synthetic Upholstery
Some synthetic fibers can be safely cleaned with a water-based cleaner but others cannot. For synthetic fiber upholstery with a W or W-S tag, you can use suds made with dishwashing liquid. For fabric with an S tag, use the isopropyl alcohol cleaning method. Always vacuum the upholstery well before you use either cleaning solution.
Create a Cleaning Solution for W or W-S Fabric
Pour four cups of warm water into a bucket or large bowl. Add one-fourth cup dishwashing liquid. Use an electric hand mixer or whisk to create lots of soapy suds. You may also want to add a few drops of essential oils for fragrance.
Scrub With Suds
Dip a soft-bristled scrubbing brush in just the soap suds (not the water). Start at the top of a cushion or the couch back or arms, evenly spread the suds and scrub well. Starting at the top will prevent dirty suds from dripping onto already cleaned areas. Rinse the brush frequently in clean water and make sure it is as dry as possible as you repeat the steps with additional soap suds.
Rinse and Dry
Dampen a microfiber cleaning cloth lightly with plain water and wipe down the area once a section of the upholstery has been cleaned. Allow the fabric to air-dry completely. Use a vacuum or upholstery brush to fluff fibers on microfiber upholstery finishes.
Prepare Cleaning Solution for S Tag Fabrics
Pour two cups of isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol in a spray bottle. For safety, always label the bottle.
Clean the Upholstery
Spritz the fabric lightly starting at the top of a cushion or section. While the fabric is damp with the rubbing alcohol, use a soft-bristled brush to remove soil. Rinse the brush frequently in plain water and shake it to remove as much moisture as possible before continuing to clean.
Air-Dry the Upholstery
Allow the upholstery to air-dry and then use a vacuum or upholstery brush to lift any matted fibers.
Homemade Upholstery Cleaner for Leather
To keep leather upholstery soft and supple, it needs to be cleaned and conditioned properly. This homemade solution works well but never use it on natural suede leather upholstery which should always be cleaned by a professional.
Create a Cleaning Solution
Add one-half cup olive oil and one-fourth cup distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle. If you want, add a few drops of essential oils for fragrance. Label the bottle as “Leather Cleaner and Conditioner.”
Shake, Spray, and Wipe
Shake the spray bottle well before each use to combine the ingredients. Working in a small area, lightly spray the leather with the solution. Wipe down the leather with a microfiber cloth to remove soil.
Buff to a Shine
Buff the cleaned area with a dry microfiber cloth to remove any streaks and restore the shine. The olive oil will keep the leather soft and supple.