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How To Clean Upholstered Chairs

by | Feb 17, 2023 | Cleaning Tips

Keeping upholstered chairs in top shape is easier than many people might think. With the right materials and know-how, you can restore the original condition and add years of life to your favourite furniture pieces.



How Often To Clean Upholstered Chairs

Upholstered chairs can bring style and comfort to any room, but they need additional TLC because of their fabric covering. The frequency of cleaning depends on how much wear and tear these chairs receive.

According to professional cleaners, it’s a good idea to vacuum upholstered chairs at least once a week to remove dust and other debris that accumulate over time.

For deeper cleaning, aim for about once per month: spot cleaning any areas that appear stained, followed by an overall spritz of professional upholstery cleaner.


Before going through our cleaning guide, gather the cleaning tools and products you may need:

  • Steam cleaner
  • Vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Warm water
  • Spray bottle
  • Clean microfiber cloth
  • Clean soft brush
  • Mild dish soap



Step-by-step Guide on How to Clean Upholstered Chairs


Step 1: Pre-cleaning preparation

Before cleaning your upholstered chair, it’s important to identify the type of fabric that you’re dealing with. Different materials require different cleaning methods, so it’s essential to know what kind of fabric you have before cleaning it.

Once you’ve determined the type of fabric, check the manufacturer’s label for specific care instructions.



Step 2: Vacuum the upholstered chairs

hand in pink protective glove cleaning textile chair with vacuum

Vacuuming is an effective way to remove surface debris from upholstered chairs. To ensure that dirt and dust particles are removed properly, use the vacuum’s hose attachment to reach all crevices.



Step 3: Prepare a cleaning solution

Each type of fabric uses cleaning methods:

  • Wool and delicate fabrics should be cleaned with mild detergent dissolved in lukewarm water.
  • Synthetic materials can be treated with a mild detergent and water combination.
  • Leather chairs should be treated with specialist products designed specifically for this material.



Step 4: Spot clean stains

If any spots or stains need extra attention, spot clean the affected areas with the appropriate cleaning solution and a soft, damp cloth or brush. Make sure not to scrub too hard, as this could damage the fabric.

Remember to test the solution on an inconspicuous area of the fabric chairs before using it on visible surfaces, as some solutions could discolour fabrics or cause fading. Always read product labels and follow instructions carefully when using cleaning solutions.


hand in rubber protective glove with microfiber cloth cleaning a black leather chair.


Step 5: Rinse off the cleaning solution

Rinse the upholstered chairs with a damp cloth to remove the cleaning solution. Carefully inspect and spot clean any remaining stains using a clean white cloth and your cleaning solution. Be sure to work from the outside of the stain inwards to prevent spreading it further.

Important note: Don’t drench or soak the upholstered chairs, as this can cause water damage to the fabric.



Step 6: Blot away excess moisture

After spot cleaning, use a clean cloth or paper towels to gently wipe away any excess moisture. Do not rub or scrub the upholstery, as this could cause damage to the fabric.



Step 7: Let the clean upholstered chairs dry

Furniture chair table decoration

Air dry your upholstered chairs outside in indirect sunlight (if weather permits) or close to an open window for optimal indoor air circulation. Move them away from direct heat sources like radiators or fires to prevent the fabric from scorching.



Optional Step: Use baking soda to remove odours

If your upholstered chairs have lingering smells, baking soda can help eliminate them quickly and naturally. 

  • Sprinkle some baking soda over each area of your fabric chairs that needs deodorising.
  • Let it sit for 30 minutes before vacuuming it with your vacuum’s soft brush attachment.



How to Steam Clean Upholstered Chairs

Once you’ve spot cleaned your upholstered furniture, they’re ready for steam cleaning. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Start with the lightest setting on your steam cleaner, or use low-pressure warm water only. This will help protect the fabrics from shrinking or being damaged by too much heat.
  2. Gently move the head of the steam cleaner over the surface of your upholstery in small overlapping circles.
  3. Make sure to lift any cushions to clean underneath them, as this is where dust and dirt tend to accumulate.
  4. If you’re dealing with heavily soiled areas, focus the steam on that area for a few seconds longer than the rest of your furniture. You can also use a damp cloth or sponge to help scrub any tough spots.
  5. When you’re finished steaming, turn off your machine and allow the furniture to dry completely before using it again.


By the way, if you don’t have a steam cleaner, it’s ok! Your upholstered chairs will be fine, and all you need to do is keep them clean. You can also rent a steam cleaner from a local store.


two upholstered pink chairs and palm plant by white brick wall. minimalism interior


How to Remove Stains from Upholstered Chairs

You can remove almost any stain from upholstered chairs with the right approach. 

  1. Start by identifying what kind of stain you’re dealing with — is it water- or oil-based?
  2. Once you’ve determined the stain, use a mild detergent and warm water to treat any water-based stains. For tougher ones like wine or lipstick, use white vinegar or club soda.
  3. Gently dab an inconspicuous area on your upholstered chair to test your chosen cleaning solution.
  4. If everything looks good, use a microfiber cloth to spot-clean the stain with the same cleaning solution.
  5. For stubborn stains, use a soft brush or toothbrush to gently scrub any dirt or debris.
  6. Use a dry, clean cloth to absorb the cleaning solution from the upholstered furniture.
  7. Once most fluids are removed with a dry cloth, light steam vacuuming can often finish the job.

To keep the fabrics looking their best, deep clean your upholstered chairs by applying an upholstery cleaner according to the manufacturer’s instructions.



DIY Cleaning solutions for stained upholstered chairs

If you’re looking for something more powerful than dish soap or detergent for removing stains, try one of these DIY solutions instead:

  • Mix 47 mL of white vinegar with 47 grams of baking soda in 2 litres of warm water and use this mixture as an all-purpose cleaner for upholstered chairs. This solution is especially useful for removing mildew stains from fabric or leather chairs.
  • Mix equal parts rubbing alcohol and white vinegar in a spray bottle and spritz onto stained areas before blotting away with a damp cloth. This solution is great for getting rid of ink stains on fabric chair covers.
  • To remove stains on leather chairs, mix equal parts white vinegar and linseed oil in a bowl, then apply directly onto the stain using a soft cloth or brush. Rub in small circular motions until the stain has been removed, then buff out any remaining residue with another soft cloth or brush.

About Author

Sophie Franklin

Sophie is the subject matter expert within Maid2Match. Most importantly though she is our biggest fan girl and generous in sharing what she knows.


About Author

Sophie Franklin

Sophie is the subject matter expert within Maid2Match. Most importantly though she is our biggest fan girl and generous in sharing what she knows.