Adam Cleaning Logo on Dark Background
Our Tips & Tricks

Get Stains Out of Upholstery for Good

March 17, 2024
Get Stains Out of Upholstery for Good

Understanding Upholstery and Common Stains

My upholstery has seen its fair share of stains over the years. From spilled drinks to pet accidents, the fabric on my couch, chairs, and other furniture has endured its share of unwanted marks. As a homeowner, I understand the frustration of trying to remove these stubborn stains and restore my upholstery to its former glory.

But what exactly is upholstery, and what are some of the most common types of stains that can occur? Upholstery refers to the soft, padded material that covers furniture, such as couches, chairs, and ottomans. This material is typically made from fabrics like cotton, velvet, or leather, and it serves to provide comfort and style to the piece of furniture.

Common stains that can occur on upholstery include food and beverage spills, grease and oil, makeup, pet accidents, and even ink or marker stains. These types of stains can be particularly challenging to remove, as they can seep deep into the fabric and become set over time. Additionally, different types of upholstery materials may require specialized cleaning methods to avoid damaging the fabric.

Preparing for Upholstery Cleaning

Before I can tackle those stubborn stains, it’s important to properly prepare the upholstery for cleaning. The first step is to identify the type of fabric I’m dealing with. Is it a delicate, natural fiber like linen or silk, or a more durable synthetic material like polyester or microfiber? Knowing the fabric composition will help me select the appropriate cleaning methods and products.

Next, I’ll need to thoroughly vacuum the upholstery to remove any loose dirt, debris, or pet hair. This will help ensure that the cleaning solution can effectively penetrate the fabric and target the stains. I might also want to use a soft-bristled brush to gently loosen any ground-in dirt or grime.

It’s also important to check the care label on the upholstery, if available. This will provide valuable guidance on the recommended cleaning methods and any specific instructions I should follow. Some upholstery fabrics may be dry-clean only, while others can be safely spot-cleaned or even machine-washed.

Spot Cleaning Upholstery

One of the most common and effective ways to remove stains from upholstery is through spot cleaning. This involves targeting the specific area affected by the stain and applying a specialized cleaning solution or method to lift and remove the mark.

When it comes to spot cleaning, I always start with the mildest cleaning method and work my way up to more powerful solutions if necessary. For example, I might begin by blotting the stain with a clean, damp cloth to absorb any excess liquid or surface-level grime. If that doesn’t do the trick, I can try using a mild, pH-neutral soap or upholstery cleaner, gently scrubbing the area with a soft-bristled brush.

For tougher stains, I might need to turn to a more powerful cleaning agent, such as a commercial upholstery cleaner or a DIY solution made with ingredients like white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, or baking soda. It’s important to test these solutions on an inconspicuous area of the upholstery first to ensure they don’t cause any discoloration or damage.

When spot cleaning, I always work from the outside of the stain towards the center, using gentle, blotting motions to avoid spreading the stain or pushing it deeper into the fabric. I’ll also be sure to rinse the area thoroughly with clean water and allow it to fully dry before moving on to the next step.

Whole-Upholstery Cleaning

In some cases, a thorough, whole-upholstery cleaning may be necessary to restore the fabric to its original condition. This can be particularly useful for heavily soiled or stained pieces, or for upholstery that hasn’t been cleaned in a while.

Whole-upholstery cleaning typically involves using a professional-grade upholstery cleaner or a steam cleaning machine. These methods can penetrate deep into the fabric to lift out ingrained dirt, grease, and other contaminants. Some key steps in the whole-upholstery cleaning process include:

  1. Vacuuming the upholstery to remove any loose dirt or debris.
  2. Applying a pre-treatment solution to help break down and lift stubborn stains.
  3. Using a steam cleaner or upholstery cleaning machine to thoroughly clean the fabric.
  4. Blotting the upholstery with clean, dry towels to remove excess moisture.
  5. Allowing the upholstery to fully air dry before use.

While whole-upholstery cleaning can be more time-consuming and labor-intensive than spot cleaning, it can be an effective way to revive older or heavily soiled pieces of furniture. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the cleaning product or machine, and to test the process on a small, inconspicuous area first.

Maintaining Upholstery Between Cleanings

Of course, the best way to keep upholstery looking its best is to maintain it regularly between deep cleanings. This can involve simple, routine tasks like:

  • Vacuuming the upholstery weekly to remove dust, hair, and other loose debris.
  • Blotting up spills or stains as soon as they occur, using a clean, damp cloth.
  • Rotating or flipping cushions and pillows to distribute wear and tear evenly.
  • Protecting the upholstery from direct sunlight, which can cause fading and damage over time.
  • Considering the use of slipcovers or throws to protect high-traffic areas.

By staying on top of these maintenance tasks, I can help extend the life of my upholstery and make the occasional deep cleaning process much easier. And when it’s time for a more thorough cleaning, I’ll feel confident that I’m taking the right steps to get my upholstery looking and feeling its best.

Special Considerations for Different Upholstery Materials

Not all upholstery fabrics are created equal, and the cleaning methods I use may need to be tailored to the specific material. Here are some tips for handling different types of upholstery:

Leather: Leather upholstery requires gentle, specialized care. I’ll need to use a mild, pH-balanced leather cleaner and a soft, microfiber cloth to avoid damaging the delicate surface. I’ll also want to condition the leather periodically to keep it supple and prevent cracking.

Velvet: Velvet is a luxurious but delicate fabric that can be tricky to clean. I’ll want to use a gentle, water-based cleaner and avoid rubbing or scrubbing the nap of the fabric, which can cause it to become matted or damaged.

Microfiber: Microfiber upholstery is relatively easy to clean, as it’s designed to resist stains and dirt. I can typically use a mild soap or upholstery cleaner and a soft-bristled brush to remove any marks or grime.

Natural Fibers: Upholstery made from natural materials like linen, cotton, or wool may require more delicate handling. I’ll want to use a mild, pH-neutral cleaner and avoid excessive scrubbing or agitation, which can damage the fibers.

By understanding the unique properties and care requirements of different upholstery materials, I can ensure that my cleaning efforts are effective without causing any unintended harm to the fabric.

Real-World Examples and Case Studies

As a homeowner, I’ve faced my fair share of upholstery stains and cleaning challenges over the years. Let me share a few real-world examples and case studies that might help illustrate some of the strategies I’ve used to get my upholstery looking its best.

Case Study 1: Red Wine Spill on a Velvet Sofa
One of the most dreaded stains is a red wine spill, and I experienced this firsthand when a glass of merlot ended up on my beloved velvet sofa. Instead of panicking, I quickly blotted the area with a clean, dry cloth to absorb as much of the wine as possible. Then, I mixed a solution of warm water and a mild, pH-neutral soap, gently scrubbing the stain with a soft-bristled brush. I was careful not to rub the nap of the velvet, as that could have caused damage. After rinsing the area thoroughly, I let the sofa air dry completely before enjoying it once again.

Case Study 2: Grease Stain on a Microfiber Armchair
Microfiber may be stain-resistant, but it’s not immune to grease and oil stains. I encountered this problem when an errant splash of cooking oil ended up on one of my microfiber armchairs. In this case, I started by blotting the area with a clean, damp cloth to remove any excess oil. Then, I made a solution of warm water and a mild dish soap, gently scrubbing the stain with a soft-bristled brush. I was careful to work from the outside of the stain towards the center, and I rinsed the area thoroughly to remove any residual soap or oil. Once the chair was fully dry, I was relieved to see that the stain had been successfully removed.

Case Study 3: Ink Stain on a Linen Sofa
Ink stains can be particularly challenging, as they can deeply penetrate the fabric and become set over time. I encountered this problem when my young child accidentally left a pen mark on my linen sofa. In this case, I started by blotting the stain with a clean, dry cloth to absorb as much of the ink as possible. Then, I made a solution of warm water, white vinegar, and a small amount of dish soap, gently scrubbing the area with a soft-bristled brush. I was careful to work slowly and avoid excessive rubbing, as the linen fabric is delicate. After several rounds of cleaning and rinsing, I was able to successfully lift the ink stain, leaving my linen sofa looking good as new.

These real-world examples demonstrate the importance of understanding the specific upholstery material, the nature of the stain, and the right cleaning techniques to achieve the best results. By staying calm, acting quickly, and using the appropriate cleaning methods, I was able to restore my upholstery and keep my furniture looking its best.


Removing stubborn stains from upholstery can be a challenging task, but with the right knowledge and techniques, it’s definitely possible to get your furniture looking like new again. By understanding the composition of your upholstery, properly preparing the fabric for cleaning, and using targeted spot-cleaning or whole-upholstery methods, you can say goodbye to those unsightly marks for good.

Remember, maintaining your upholstery between deep cleanings is also key to keeping it looking its best. Regular vacuuming, prompt blotting of spills, and protecting the fabric from excessive wear and tear can all help extend the life of your furniture and make the occasional deep cleaning process much easier.

So, the next time a stubborn stain appears on your upholstery, don’t panic – put on your cleaning gloves and get to work! With a little elbow grease and the right cleaning techniques, you can have your furniture looking fresh and inviting once again.

Continue Reading
New Posts
Why choose us

With Adam Cleaning, you can expect a team of trained and skilled professionals dedicated to providing top-notch cleaning services. We pride ourselves on our attention to detail and commitment to excellence, ensuring every space we clean is left sparkling.


Your satisfaction is our top priority. That's why all our services come with a satisfaction guarantee. If you're not completely happy with our work, we'll make it right. That's the Adam Cleaning guarantee.

Total Solution

No matter your cleaning needs, Adam Cleaning is your total solution. From carpet cleaning to ironing services, end of tenancy cleaning to garden cleaning, we offer a wide range of services designed to make your life cleaner, simpler, and more enjoyable.

Adam Cleaning White Logo

Sparkling Spaces, Satisfied Smiles.


1 Caxton Close Nottingham,
United Kingdom