How to remove water rings after cleaning upholstery

Written by janet beal
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Cleaning upholstered furniture at home seems like an easy economy--unless your finished work leaves you with visible water stains on the upholstery. Since removing water stains can be time-consuming, an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure. Combine understanding of how to clean upholstery with strategies for water-stain removal to keep your work stain-free.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Paper towels
  • Hairdryer
  • Sponge
  • Clean water
  • Fabric steamer

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  1. 1

    Blot the stained area with paper towels; make a pad of several thicknesses and bear down on the stained area. It may be that the water stain reflects areas under the fabric that have not yet dried. If blotting produces lessening of the stain, follow up with a hairdryer on a low to moderate setting. Some water stains will disappear when underlying areas are thoroughly dried.

  2. 2

    Moisten the edges of a remaining stain with additional water, using a moist, not wet, sponge. Use feathering strokes, wiping across the stain edge to soften its margins. This is most effective when water has reacted with excess dye in fabric, producing a ring.

  3. 3

    Blot and blow-dry results to see whether the ring is gone. You may need to repeat the process once or twice more if the ring is very definite. Repeat to continue blending sharp edges of the ring into the overall fabric.

  4. 4

    Tackle trouble spots with a fabric or garment steamer. This is another way to feather or blend the edges of water stains. Make certain the steamer is discharging steam only; if it sends out large drops of water as well, your problem may worsen rather than improve.

Tips and warnings

  • Water rings may be the result of choosing the wrong cleaning method for your fabric. See References for a guide to codes used on fabrics to indicate how they need to be cleaned.
  • Resist the urge to add more water than is absolutely necessary to moisten fabric. More gentle wiping is better than more water. You do not want to replace an old water ring with a new one.

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