Cleaning Guides

How to Clean Upholstered Chairs at Home

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Upholstered furniture gets dirty with everyday use and needs regular cleaning if you want to enjoy it for longer, right? And that’s not all. By removing stains, oily marks, dust, pet hair, crumbs and debris from your fabric furniture, you’ll ensure that your entire home is cleaner and more presentable, as well as the indoor air is of better quality.

Whether we are talking about your comfy sofa or upholstered dining room chairs, fabric furniture pieces need maintenance and regular care. So, with this guide, we’ll help you learn how to clean your upholstered chairs (and other soft pieces if you like) with tools and ingredients that you usually have lying around at home.

After all, not everyone has professional cleaning equipment, like a steam cleaner, at their disposal, so let’s see what DIY techniques are out there that you can use to achieve your goal.

Read on if you:

  • Have upholstered chairs that look somewhat dull and faded;
  • Want to learn how to remove stains from fabric chairs and other types of soft furniture;
  • Wish to clean your sitting furniture pieces without the use of a steam cleaning machine.
Table of contents:

Check the material of your upholstered chairs

First and foremost, you need to make sure that the material of your fabric chairs can be cleaned safely, without the risk of damaging it. So, do check the label for helpful instructions. You see, most synthetic upholstery fabrics can withstand wet-cleaning techniques, while some expensive natural textiles, like silk or suede, can be easily ruined if you use water to clean them.

Therefore, if you see W on the label, the symbol indicates that you can apply moisture and water-based cleaning solutions, whereas the letters X (vacuuming only) and S (solvent-based cleaners) will be warning you to refrain from applying water on the fabric. Note that the S/W sign stands for solvent- and water-based cleaning methods being both safe to apply.

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Get the cleaning tools and products you may need

Taking into consideration that you’ve checked the manufacturer’s instructions on how to clean your particular upholstered chairs, we share below a list of some common cleaning solutions and tools that you can use if the sitting pieces don’t require some special care.

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Mild liquid soap
  • Enzyme stain remover
  • Cloths and sponges
  • Paper towel

You may need to use only some of these, of course, and it will all depend on how dirty the fabric chairs are, the types of stains you need to remove and the type of material the chairs are upholstered with.

Now, read on to see the exact steps you should follow to make your fabric chairs grime-free again in no time.

Vacuum thoroughly your upholstered chairs

Use suitable attachments with your vacuum cleaner to remove dust and hidden debris from your upholstered chairs. Crumbs, fluff and hard particles can easily settle in between the seat and back of some dining chair models.

Also, you’ll be surprised, but over time, tiny house spiders can make their webs underside of seats, as one often neglects to check and clean these areas during their regular vacuuming of the house. Do be careful with some potentially venomous species, like the Funnel-web spider, which can be found in Australia.

Spot-clean the upholstery to eliminate unsightly stains

Dining and kitchen upholstered chairs are prone to stains, of course, so inspect the fabric of yours closely and prepare to clean them. We’ll cover below a few common cleaning solutions that you can use.

Naturally, if the material your sitting furniture is made of doesn’t allow applying those, follow the label instructions and don’t risk causing more harm than good. You can confidently use the below-listed methods and upholstery stain removers on synthetic and mixed-fibre textile materials.

  • Hydrogen peroxide – Use a 3% hydrogen peroxide, diluted in water, to remove blood stains, wine spills, coffee and tea stains, etc. Note that this cleaning solution has mild bleaching properties, so you should be careful if applying it on dark-coloured fabric chairs.
  • Baking soda – Baking soda is a great absorber of grease and an effective agent for eliminating bad odours, as well. Make a paste with water and apply it over the spot. Then, after a few minutes, wipe with a cloth.
  • White vinegar – The acidic properties of vinegar also work great on greasy stains and food spillages, be it soup or stew of some kind. Hot chocolate stains can also disappear by treating them with a solution of vinegar and water.
  • Washing-up liquid – Most general stains like mud marks or water-colour paint can be easily cleaned with a mild soap.
  • Enzyme cleaners – Enzyme cleaners and stain removers are designed to break down and eliminate organic substances (urine, oils, blood). They may not be as effective as other products when it comes to cleaning food and beverage stains that contain artificial colouring agents.
Still, better be safe than sorry, so always test the upholstery stain remover of your choice on a small inconspicuous place before treating the furniture piece.
Don’t rub a stain too much, whether you use a cloth or a soft brush, as you may make it set further into the fabric. Gently wipe the residue of your cleaning agent and rinse with a damp cloth.

Tips for general cleaning of your fabric chairs

If the fabric is suitable to be cleaned by using water, you can wash your upholstered chairs or other types of soft furniture with diluted liquid soap once or twice a year, even if the pieces don’t really have a visible stain. This will refresh their look, make the fabric colours brighter and eliminate any lingering stale smells, too. This is what you need to do:

  1. Dip a soft clean cloth into a mixture of water and a mild washing-up liquid.
  2. Wring the cloth well.
  3. Wipe the seat and back cushions with that cloth.
  4. Repeat if you need to.
  5. Then, do the same a couple of times, but with a clean cloth, dipped only in lukewarm water.
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How to help your upholstered chairs dry quicker

You can start with placing and holding some paper towels on the freshly washed upholstered part of your chairs so that the moisture gets absorbed as much as possible. Repeat this a couple of times.

To speed up the drying process even further, you can use a hairdryer for the task. If you’re not in a great hurry to use your fabric chairs after they have been cleaned, simply turn on a heater or a fan in the room, or open a window or two for better ventilation.

Last but not least, if it’s nice and sunny outside, take your upholstered chairs out in the garden or on the balcony and let the sun do the job for you.

If you own leather dining chairs, use only specially designed cleaning and leather conditioning products to revive and refresh the upholstery. You can also check out our handy leather cleaning tips in one of our posts on this blog.

How to keep your upholstered chairs presentable

You can do so much to minimise the need to clean your fabric chairs too often. After all, the task of treating stains is not only time consuming but the process can increase the risk of damaging your upholstery if you use the wrong product for the type of stain and the material your chair is made of. So, it makes sense if you take some steps to prevent spillage accidents from turning into hard-to-remove spots.

Let’s see below what you can do to protect your fabric chairs!

Use removable covers

No, we don’t advise you to cover your beautiful dining chairs in cheap removable covers at all times and hide the original upholstery material. We know! You’ve purchased your upholstered chairs to go with your nice wooden dining table, right? So, the idea is to protect your chairs only when in use during meal times, for instance, especially if you have a brood, consisting of small children. You can make an exception to this rule when you’re hosting a dinner party for some dear guests.

Apply a stain protector

Most upholstery stain protectors are designed to keep stains at bay for months ahead. So, choose a product that can be applied on your particular fabric chairs and you’ll see how the transparent thin film will make cleaning maintenance easier in the event of spilt beverages or dropped food on the fabric seats.

Keep baby wipes handy

Well, having baby wipes at home, which contain no alcohol or harsh chemicals, even if you don’t have young kids, can save the day every time a fresh stain appears on your upholstered furniture. Wiping a spillage, a mark or a spot, as soon as it occurs, will prevent it from turning into a stain that is hard to remove at a later point.

Minimise accidents altogether

This could be anything, from not leaving open bottles on the dining table unattended so that your lovely cat can just knock one over out of boredom to not allowing your toddler to draw with a permanent marker around your furniture, for example. In other words, protect your investment by preventing accidents from happening.

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When to steam clean your upholstered chairs professionally?

Well, sometimes, no matter what you try to clean your stained fabric chairs, the results are simply far from satisfying. In such a case, you better call in a professional upholstery cleaner, who knows what they’re doing and has the right equipment for the job.

You see, the hot water extraction upholstery cleaning method (also, known as steam cleaning) is superior to any DIY technique. It sufficiently removes bacteria and allergens, like pollen, mould, pet dander and the likes, from synthetic and mixed-fibre textile materials, as well as eliminates old stubborn stains.

Fantastic Services specialises in upholstery cleaning services, performed by skilled and experienced cleaning specialists. So, don’t hesitate to contact us if you need assistance!

Need help with cleaning your fabric chairs?

Then, book an upholstery cleaning expert!

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  • Always check the label’s instructions before you attempt to clean your fabric chairs yourself.
  • Test your cleaning solution on a hidden spot to make sure that it won’t damage your furniture.
  • There are various ways to protect your upholstered furnishings and minimise spillage accidents.
  • When in doubt about how to clean your fabric chairs, resort to professional help.

Have you managed to clean any stubborn stains from your upholstered chairs? Then, share your experience and tips with our readers in the comments below!

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1 year ago

This is informative to helping all of us be positive in performing home cleaning and some maintenance in our homes, thus improving our environment and attitudes!

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