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What Should I Know about Upholstery Cleaning?

An upholstered footstool.
Specific upholstery cleaning products may be required to clean furniture.
Color-safe bleach may be helpful for removing mold from upholstery.
It's a good idea to test out cleaning products on an area that isn't noticeable in case they harm the material.
White vinegar can be used in a mixture to clean coffee stains from upholstery.
Article Details
  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 October 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Cleaning upholstery is a common household task that helps to keep your furniture looking new. Fortunately, there are a number of products on the market that work for cleaning couches, chairs and other upholstered items. The trick is to know what product to use with which type of upholstery. Here are some tips to help you find the right product for your upholstery cleaning job.

One of the first steps in upholstery cleaning is to identify the type of material that requires cleaning. Upholstery options include leather, suede, imitation leathers, and cloth made of natural and synthetic fibers. Some of these options are colorfast, which means they can be cleaned without worrying about fading. Other types are not colorfast and may spot if a cleaner with harsh chemicals is applied to the upholstery. Knowing the type of upholstery you are working with will help you identify cleaners that are formulated to clean the material without causing any blotching or fading.

After identifying the type of upholstery, it is also important to determine the nature of the stain. What works very well for removing a ketchup stain may not work as well on a wine stain. In like manner, grease based stains will require a stronger cleaning agent than coffee stains. Selecting the right cleaner to treat the stain will greatly increase the chances of successfully removing the stain.

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One final factor to consider is how long the stain has been present. A stain that just took place will be relatively easy to treat, since the stain has not had the chance to settle into the fibers of the upholstery. By contrast, a stain that has been in place for a longer period of time may be very stubborn and require several treatments before it is completely removed. Understanding how much effort may be required to remove the stain will help you cultivate the patience to incrementally remove the stain if necessary.

There are both commercial products for upholstery cleaning as well as simple formulas that can be created using common household cleaners. For fresh grease stains, talcum powder and salt may help absorb the grease and prevent the stain from setting. A mixture of dishwashing liquid, white vinegar, and a little water will create a simple upholstery cleaning compound that works well for coffee stains. Mold can often be removed from upholstery by using a combination of hydrogen peroxide and a color safe bleach. If home remedies don’t seem to work, there is a good chance one of the commercial products will take care of the problem.

In any case, it is a good idea to test the upholstery cleaning product before applying to the stain. Locate a section of the upholstery where you can apply a small amount and determine if it will damage the material in any way. If no fading or damage takes place, chances are the cleaner will be safe to use on the stain.

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