By this point I’m reasonably certain that the majority of responsible furniture owners are aware that spills and stains on upholstery should be cleaned immediately, with all due haste.
Learning how to clean upholstery can be important in any home that you want to stay looking clean, beautiful and well cared for. But, let’s consider for a moment the times when it’s just not possible to immediately handle a stain. A quick search on the internet might lead you to a commercial and professional upholstery cleaning service.
1. Vacuum It
If your upholstery starts to look dingy, or has developed lots of stains and spots, before you do anything else it is important to vacuum it. This will remove the dirt and dust which, when wet, can further dirty your couch if it is not removed first. Use an upholstery attachment to get in all the cracks and crevices, and to thoroughly clean all the cushions.
2. Blot The Spill
If you don’t just have general dirt, or old stains, but instead a fresh spill, you don’t want that spill to soak into the furniture stuffing, into the wood, or to set into the upholstery fabric.
Therefore, the first thing to do when any spill occurs is to blot (not scrub or rub) the spill up with a white cloth as quickly as possible to lessen the spread of the stain, and to keep it from setting in a larger area.
3. Understanding Upholstery Cleaning Codes
The furniture industry has created a code for its care tags so you can quickly know how to clean upholstery when a spill occurs.
These tags are typically found hanging in an inconspicuous place on the side of the furniture, or under seat cushions.
Here is what the codes mean:
W: Clean the upholstery fabric with a water based detergent.
S: Clean the upholstery fabric with a water free product, such as dry cleaning solvent.
WS: You may clean the upholstery fabric with either a water based cleaner or a water free cleaner, depending on the type of stain. (This is the best type of upholstered furniture to purchase if you plan to remove your own stains.)
X: This upholstery fabric must be professionally cleaned. You should only vacuum and brush it — never use any type of upholstery cleaner on it yourself. (Unless you are extraordinarily rich, you really want to steer clear of buying furniture with this on the tag in the future.)
If your furniture can be cleaned by water hitting the stain with a bit of steam loosens it up and makes the stain more responsive to treatment. I typically just grab my iron and and use the steam button for this application, I don’t find it necessary to drag out the steamer to deal with small areas.
If your stain has survived this entire cleaning process, you are dealing with one stubborn stain. As exhausting—and possibly irritating—as the process can be, doing it all over again can give you the result you’re looking for. The previously mentioned wine on white chairs situation took two full passes before the stains came out. I really thought when I entered Phase 2 for the second time that there was no way these stains were going anywhere, but perseverance paid off and the stains disappeared!
The seemingly impossible to remove set-in stain has been conquered! Hooray! Feel free to share your accomplishments with friends, so long as you offer to help out if they ever have need of your stain removing powers.
Just in case a spill happens in the future that you can take care of immediately, here are some tips and tricks for how to spot clean upholstery stains that have just happened.