How to clean upholstered furniture

Updated February 21, 2017

Keeping upholstered furniture clean will increase the life of the fabrics. Here's how to wash upholstery, whether it's a couch, sofa, loveseat or favorite chair.

Remove all loose cushions.

Loosen dirt with a handheld dusting brush while using a vacuum brush attachment to remove the dust.

Vacuum all surfaces of the furniture: back, sides, arms, skirt and the platform beneath the cushions.

Vacuum both sides of the loose cushions.

Replace cushions.

Add 1/4 c. laundry detergent or liquid dish detergent to 1 c. warm water. Blend with an electric mixer; whip the mixture until the suds look like whipped cream (it will be dry and form peaks).

Test for fading by dipping a cloth in the suds and rubbing a small place on the back of furniture. Let dry. If fading, shrinkage or discoloration occurs, have the job done professionally; if not, proceed to the next step.

Pick an area on the furniture, dip cloth and rub suds on.

Dirt will begin to appear in suds as they work. Use a scraper to scrape suds away.

Rinse area with a damp cloth.

Repeat steps 8 through 10 on other areas of furniture, allowing for overlap of areas during cleaning.

Allow to dry overnight, preferably with an electric fan blowing on furniture.


The best way to keep upholstered furniture clean is to use the preventative method: vacuum weekly to remove dust and prevent heavy soiling of the fabric. To keep fabric from snagging when vacuuming, put a piece of nonmetallic window screen between the vacuum nozzle and the fabric. Change suds, rinsing water and cleaning cloths as needed.

Things You'll Need

  • Cleaning Cloths
  • Detergents
  • Electric Fans
  • Handheld Dusting Brushes
  • Power Brush Vacuum Attachments
  • Plastic Bucket
  • Plastic Scrapers
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