How to Clean Upholstered Chairs With or Without a Steam Cleaner

Clean your furniture upholstery with confidence. We explain the best ways to clean the furniture upholstery of your couches, chairs, stools, and more.

Upholstered furniture like sofas and dining chairs are an essential part of the home. As is cleaning them. With kids, pets, and unexpected spills, upholstered furniture can quickly lose its good looks. 

In this article, we explain the best ways to clean your upholstered furniture and get it looking like new again. Well, as close to new as possible. Included are two methods, one with a steam cleaner and one without. 

If you'd like some expert help keeping your furniture or house clean, you can book an affordable, professional cleaner on Homeaglow.

How to clean upholstered chairs

Cleaning presents difficulties for anything that cannot be taken off and tossed in the washer. This article includes a tried-and-true step-by-step guide for cleaning any upholstered dining chairs, upholstered kitchen chairs, upholstered office chairs, or old upholstered chairs you have in your home, with or without a steam cleaner.

Here are the materials you will need:

  • Vacuum and upholstery nozzle
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Liquid detergent
  • Microfiber towels
  • Brush with a soft bristle (optional)
  • Steam cleaner (optional)

How to clean upholstered chairs with a steam cleaner

An advantage of using a steam cleaner to clean upholstered dining room chairs, upholstered kitchen chairs, old upholstered chairs, or antique upholstered chairs is the deep clean that’s achieved. Before you pull out your steam cleaner, start by prepping the chairs for cleaning.

Step 1: Preparations 

If the upholstered chair covers are removable, remove them and wash them separately. Vacuum the chair next. You want to avoid moving any loose dirt when deep cleaning. Use a vacuum with a hose and upholstery brush attachment to remove dust and crumbs and capture allergens. Additionally, pay attention to all the nooks and crannies, including its bottom sides and back. 

Also, check the tags on your couch for any special cleaning instructions. Most couches can be steam cleaned, but it’s worth double-checking before you start. 

Step 2: Pre-treat any fabric stains

The next step is to gently scrub any stains with fabric cleaner. This helps lift the individual stains that steam cleaning can’t tackle alone. Scrub gently with a soft brush or cloth and follow the instruction on your fabric cleaner. Remember to test an inconspicuous area first. 

Step 3: Select a steam cleaner

Steam cleaners come in a variety of sizes and shapes with a plethora of valuable attachments. Choose a steam cleaner explicitly built for steaming upholstery and fabrics.

Step 4: Get your machine ready for cleaning

The steam cleaner-to-water ratio will vary depending on your machine and cleaning solution. Always follow the dilution ratio instructions to safeguard your steam cleaner and furniture. Examine your manual to determine which attachment to use for the most remarkable results. This could be a stationary or oscillating brush.

  • Fill the steam cleaner tank. 
  • Connect the machine and allow it to reach steam temperature. 

Don’t steam too soon; if not, only water will appear, saturating the fabric.

Step 5: Begin steaming

Working in little sections is the best way to steam a couch. This allows the surface to dry faster and avoids the possibility of oversaturation, which could damage the upholstery.

Think of rapid strokes rather than leisure movements when passing the steam wand over the couch. Brisk strokes aid in the removal of stains from the fibers and reduce the amount of water that permeates into the upholstery.

If the stain will not come out, try applying a mixture of dish soap and water and gently wiping the spot until it is gone.

Step 6: Allow your couch to dry

A clean, fresh upholstered chair is almost ready for you to enjoy. All that remains is to allow it to dry completely. You can speed up the process by using a fan or opening a window to allow fresh air to aerate the fibers. Remember that a damp chair will encourage mold growth. Once your couch is dry, vacuum it again to eliminate any remaining residue.

How to clean upholstered chairs without a steam cleaner

Before you start, check the tags on your couch. They’ll let you know if there are any specific no-nos for fabric cleaning. 

Step 1: Begin with a vacuum

Depending on the design of the upholstered chair, some corners collect dust and dirt. Pay more attention to these areas when vacuuming. Use an upholstery attachment on your vacuum to clean fabric chairs effectively. The ideal substitute is a clean, soft brush attachment if you don't have one. After vacuuming the back and seat of the chair, switch to the narrow head attachment to get rid of any remaining dust and debris from the edges, corners, and crevices where the material meets the chair's legs or the wood or metal.

Step 2: Clean stains on the spot

It's crucial to determine the sort of stains you have before attempting to remove them from your fabric chairs. You can use white vinegar on its own or prepare a separate paste with baking soda and water to eliminate the majority of light stains. These two cleaning agents–vinegar and baking soda—are useful in cleaning upholstered chairs, baseboards, sink drains, and many more.

In contrast, particularly difficult-to-remove stains might need to be treated with a solution tailored to the fabric.

  • In a spray bottle, add 2 parts of warm water and 1 part of white vinegar, then shake well to ensure proper mixing.
  • Apply a small amount of the mixture to a small area of the upholstery and scrub gently with a soft rag or brush. Check whether the stain is lifting from the chair without causing any damage. 
  • Next, clean other places using the same technique and mixture. 
  • If the furniture is made of leather, combine vinegar with olive oil in a spray bottle instead of water, then apply it to the surface and buff it with a soft cloth.

Step 3: Clean your upholstered chair

A thorough clean with an eco-friendly laundry detergent solution is recommended to clean and freshen your upholstered chairs. 

  • Make a mild cleaning solution by combining one teaspoon of liquid laundry detergent with 1 liter of water and stirring thoroughly. 
  • Gently clean the upholstery from top to bottom, getting into all the nooks and crannies. 
  • Remember that while you work on cleaning your upholstered chairs thoroughly, the cloth you are using will likely get dirty and need to be cleaned or changed periodically.

Note: To avoid saturating the fabric of your upholstered chairs, dip your microfibre cloth in cleaning solution, then wring it out thoroughly before applying it to your upholstery. 

Step 4: Rinse away the cleansing solution

Wipe the upholstery with a clean, wet cloth to remove the cleaning solution. 

Rinse the cloth repeatedly and make sure to wring it thoroughly. Keep wiping the fabric until there is no soapy residue on the surface. 

Step 5: Dry the chair

After cleaning your upholstered chairs, it's crucial to know how to dry them correctly. When upholstery is wet, high heat from a blow dryer can harm it, and direct sunlight can make it fade. Use either of these options to dry your upholstery:

  • Dry the upholstery as much as you can with paper towels, then place the chairs overnight beneath a ceiling fan to continue drying.
  • Take the chairs outdoors and place them in a shaded spot to air dry. Consider your options if it's a windy day since unsettled dust and debris may make your upholstered chairs dirty again.
  • Leave them where they are and turn the ceiling fan on high while opening every window and door in the space. The material will dry more quickly if the ventilation in the area is increased.

Clean your upholstered chairs with confidence

If you think cleaning upholstered chairs is easier said than done, think again. Anyone can use the tried-and-true cleaning technique described in this article to remove fabric chair stains and revitalize their upholstery, whether you have a steam cleaner or not. 

If you need any professional help keeping your sofa or home clean, you can always use Homeaglow to find an experienced, affordable cleaner near you.

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