How to clean linen upholstery

As a strong, absorbent and breathable fibre, linen is a popular choice for a variety of items, including towels, lace, sheets, clothing, bandages and upholstery. However, this flax plant derivative has certain disadvantages. Unless it is pre-shrunk, the fibre shrinks when first washed; it wrinkles easily, giving an untidy look; and is not as simple to clean as cotton. Clean linen upholstery regularly to keep it looking great.

Check the attached care label to determine whether your linen upholstery can be dry cleaned or machine washed. Hire a professional linen upholstery cleaner to have the items dry or steam cleaned if it is required.

Linen is an anti-static fibre and it does not attract dust. Simply brush the upholstery or gently vacuum it to make it look as good as new. Make sure you brush and vacuum all crevices, sides, backs and cushions.

Remove blotches from your linen upholstery by washing the affected area with lukewarm water. Remove soil stains by dabbing the area gently with a wet cloth. Gently blot hardened tea and coffee stains with glycerine. Let the glycerine stay on the fabric a few minutes and then wash it off with water. Dab face powder or lipstick stains with ether or alcohol and then wash it off with water. Apply a small amount of petrol or trichloroethylene to remove grease stains. Spread talc on the area and brush it off thoroughly. Give the treated area a thorough rinse with water and let to dry.

Machine or hand wash linen upholstery for a thorough cleaning. Use only hot water to wash lighter coloured fabrics, including whites. Use cold water to wash darker colours. Make sure you use a mild washing powder diluted in warm water. Rinse well after the wash to completely remove all soap residue.


Remove stains immediately after the spill. Leaving a stain to set will make it more difficult to remove later.

Make sure the linen items you are washing are pre-shrunk.

Test whichever cleaning method you decide to use on a hidden area of the fabric before using it everywhere.


Read manufacturer care instructions before attempting to clean linen.

Do not clean linen upholstery with chlorine bleach or white distilled vinegar.

Do not rub or brush wet linen fabric as it can leave stubborn creases in the fabric.

Things You'll Need

  • Brush
  • Vacuum cleaner with upholstery attachment
  • Glycerine
  • Ether or alcohol
  • Petrol
  • Trichloroethylene
  • Talc
  • Mild detergent
  • Water
  • Cleaning cloth
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About the Author

Natasha Gilani has been a writer since 2004, with work appearing in various online publications. She is also a member of the Canadian Writers Association. Gilani holds a Master of Business Administration in finance and an honors Bachelor of Science in information technology from the University of Peshawar, Pakistan.