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Clean And Freshen Your Upholstery Without Paying For Costly Professional Cleaning

March 22, 2024
Clean And Freshen Your Upholstery Without Paying For Costly Professional Cleaning


As a homeowner or business owner, the upholstery in your living spaces can accumulate dirt, stains, and odors over time. While professional cleaning services can provide a thorough deep clean, they can be costly and disruptive to your daily routine. Fortunately, there are effective DIY methods that can help you clean and freshen your upholstery without breaking the bank. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore various techniques, tools, and products that you can use to revive the appearance and scent of your upholstered furniture.

Understanding Upholstery Fabric Types

Before we dive into the cleaning methods, it’s essential to understand the different types of upholstery fabrics you might encounter. The cleaning approach may vary depending on the fabric’s composition and texture. Here are some common upholstery fabrics and their characteristics:

  1. Cotton: Cotton is a natural fiber that is breathable and absorbent. It can be cleaned with most household cleaning products, but it’s important to test for colorfastness before applying any solution.

  2. Polyester: Polyester is a synthetic fabric that is durable and resistant to fading. It can be cleaned with mild detergents and spot cleaners, but be cautious with harsh chemicals as they may damage the fabric.

  3. Leather: Leather is a natural material that requires specific care. Avoid using water-based cleaners as they can dry out the leather. Instead, use leather-safe conditioners and cleaners designed for this material.

  4. Microfiber: Microfiber is a synthetic fabric that is stain-resistant and easy to clean. You can use a mild detergent or upholstery cleaner and gently scrub the fabric with a soft-bristle brush.

  5. Wool: Wool is a natural fiber that is durable and resilient. However, it can be susceptible to shrinking and staining if not cleaned properly. Use a wool-safe cleaner or a mild detergent diluted in water.

Vacuum Cleaning

The first step in freshening your upholstery is to remove loose dirt, hair, and debris. Regular vacuuming can prevent these particles from becoming embedded in the fabric, making it easier to clean and maintain the upholstery’s appearance. Here’s how you can effectively vacuum your upholstered furniture:

  1. Use the right attachments: Equip your vacuum cleaner with the appropriate attachments for upholstery cleaning. The crevice tool and upholstery brush are ideal for reaching tight spaces and lifting embedded dirt.

  2. Vacuum regularly: Aim to vacuum your upholstered furniture at least once a week, or more frequently if you have pets or high foot traffic in the area.

  3. Lift cushions and fabric folds: Don’t forget to vacuum under cushions, along fabric folds, and in any crevices where dirt and debris can accumulate.

Spot Cleaning

Spills and stains are inevitable, but addressing them promptly can prevent them from setting and becoming more difficult to remove. Here’s how you can tackle fresh and dried spills on your upholstery:

  1. Blot fresh spills: For fresh spills, use a clean, absorbent cloth or paper towels to blot up as much of the liquid as possible. Avoid rubbing, as this can spread the stain and push it deeper into the fabric.

  2. Use a mild solution: Mix a small amount of mild detergent or upholstery cleaner with warm water. Test the solution on an inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t cause any discoloration or damage.

  3. Tackle dried stains: For dried stains, you may need to use a slightly more abrasive approach. Create a paste with baking soda and water, and gently rub it into the stain using a soft-bristle brush. Let it sit for a few minutes before blotting with a clean cloth.

  4. Rinse and dry: After treating the stain, rinse the area with clean water and blot dry with a clean cloth or paper towels. Avoid leaving the upholstery damp, as this can lead to mildew growth and unpleasant odors.

Deep Cleaning

While regular vacuuming and spot cleaning can help maintain your upholstery’s cleanliness, a deep clean is sometimes necessary to remove embedded dirt, grime, and odors. Here are some effective deep cleaning methods you can try:

1. Steam Cleaning

Steam cleaning is a powerful and eco-friendly way to deep clean your upholstery. The hot steam helps to loosen and lift dirt, while also sanitizing the fabric. You can rent a steam cleaner from hardware stores or purchase a dedicated upholstery steam cleaner. Here’s how to steam clean your upholstery:

  1. Prepare the area: Remove cushions and vacuum the upholstery thoroughly.
  2. Test for colorfastness: Always test the steam cleaner on an inconspicuous area first to ensure the fabric doesn’t discolor or shrink.
  3. Steam clean: Slowly move the steam cleaner over the upholstery, allowing the steam to penetrate the fabric and lift the dirt.
  4. Dry thoroughly: After steam cleaning, allow the upholstery to dry completely before replacing cushions or using the furniture.

2. Dry Cleaning Solutions

For delicate or non-water-safe upholstery fabrics, dry cleaning solutions can be an effective alternative. These solutions are specially formulated to clean and revive the fabric without the use of water. Here’s how to use dry cleaning solutions:

  1. Choose the right product: Select a dry cleaning solution specifically designed for the type of upholstery fabric you have (e.g., leather, microfiber, etc.).
  2. Test for colorfastness: Always test the solution on an inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t cause discoloration or damage.
  3. Apply the solution: Follow the product’s instructions for application. Typically, you’ll need to lightly mist or spray the solution onto the upholstery and let it sit for a few minutes.
  4. Agitate and blot: Use a clean, dry cloth or brush to gently agitate the solution into the fabric, then blot up any excess solution and dirt.

3. Baking Soda and Vinegar

If you prefer a more natural and budget-friendly approach, a combination of baking soda and vinegar can be an effective upholstery cleaner. Here’s how to use this DIY solution:

  1. Create the cleaning solution: Mix equal parts of white vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle.
  2. Sprinkle baking soda: Lightly sprinkle baking soda over the upholstery, focusing on heavily soiled areas.
  3. Apply the vinegar solution: Spray the vinegar solution over the baking soda, allowing it to fizz and react.
  4. Scrub and blot: Use a soft-bristle brush to gently scrub the solution into the fabric, then blot up any excess moisture with a clean cloth or paper towels.
  5. Vacuum up residue: Once the upholstery is dry, vacuum up any remaining baking soda residue.

Freshening and Deodorizing

Even after a thorough cleaning, upholstery can sometimes retain unpleasant odors. Here are some effective ways to freshen and deodorize your upholstered furniture:

  1. Baking soda: Sprinkle baking soda generously over the upholstery and let it sit for several hours or overnight. The baking soda will help absorb odors before you vacuum it up.

  2. Vinegar: White vinegar is a natural deodorizer. Mix equal parts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle and lightly mist the upholstery, allowing it to air dry.

  3. Essential oils: Add a few drops of your favorite essential oils (such as lemon, lavender, or eucalyptus) to a spray bottle filled with water. Mist the upholstery with this fragrant solution for a fresh, natural scent.

  4. Activated charcoal: Activated charcoal has excellent odor-absorbing properties. Place sachets or pouches of activated charcoal around the upholstered furniture, allowing them to absorb any lingering odors.

  5. Sunlight and fresh air: When possible, expose your upholstered furniture to sunlight and fresh air. The UV rays from sunlight can help neutralize odors, while fresh air can help dissipate any lingering smells.

Protecting Your Upholstery

After investing time and effort into cleaning and freshening your upholstery, it’s important to protect it from future stains and damage. Here are some tips to help maintain your upholstery’s pristine condition:

  1. Use fabric protectors: Apply a fabric protector or scotchgard to your upholstery after cleaning. These products create a barrier that repels liquids, making it easier to clean up spills and stains.

  2. Rotate cushions: Regularly rotate and flip cushions to evenly distribute wear and prevent indentations or discoloration in high-traffic areas.

  3. Cover with throws or slipcovers: Use decorative throws or slipcovers to protect your upholstery from everyday wear and tear, spills, and pet hair.

  4. Vacuum regularly: Maintain a regular vacuuming schedule to prevent dirt and debris from becoming embedded in the fabric.

  5. Address spills promptly: Act quickly when spills occur by blotting up the liquid and treating the stain immediately, before it has a chance to set.


Maintaining fresh and clean upholstery doesn’t have to be a costly endeavor. By incorporating regular vacuuming, spot cleaning, deep cleaning techniques, and deodorizing methods, you can revive the appearance and scent of your upholstered furniture without relying on professional cleaning services. Remember to always test cleaning solutions on an inconspicuous area first and follow the appropriate methods for your specific upholstery fabric type. With a little effort and the right approach, you can enjoy a fresh and inviting living space without breaking the bank.

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