Furniture Cleaning Tips

Let’s face it—life can be messy sometimes.

From dust and children to those inevitable pet accidents, we’ll cover a few furniture cleaning tips that can extend the life of your upholstery.

Spot Cleaning for Upholstery

It can be your first instinct to reach for a washcloth and soap when drips drop on your sofa. You’ve likely seen it before…the water used to scrub the stain leaves behind a ring and an even bigger problem.  Be it soup, salsa, or your favorite ice cream, try this technique for stain removal:

  • Blot (don’t scrub) the spill as quickly as possible with a dry cloth to lessen the spread of the stain.
  • Scrape excess food with a dull table knife and pick up any remaining food particles using the attachment of your vacuum. The key here is to make sure you’ve removed all of the soil so that you’re not working it back into the fabric.
  • Treating the spill will require a different technique depending on your fabric, keep reading.

Know the Codes

Time to check your tags. Care for upholstery will vary based on fabric—cotton or cotton blends, microfiber, velour, chenille, wool and synthetics all have specific methods for base cleaning and care. Industry care codes have been established for consumers to use as a guide for addressing spills when they happen.

Here’s the 4-1-1:


Use of water and mild soap is acceptable with fabrics of this code.


Cleaning solvents are generally safe for fabrics of this code, though you should test on an inconspicuous area prior to addressing the stain.


Depending on the stain or your personal preference, you may clean the upholstery fabric with either a water-based cleaner or commercial cleaning solvent.


This fabric must be professionally cleaned. You may blot and vacuum the particles out of the stain, but avoid the use of any cleaning products on this fabric.

If your piece no longer has its care tags, your best bet is to treat the spill in the most conservative manner possible before utilizing more potent products. Using a clean, soft white cloth and very mild soap (baby shampoo is a safe bet) work on the stain using a gentle circular motion. If the stain is still there once completely dry, you want to consult an upholstery cleaning professional.

Shop for Furniture that Fits Your Lifestyle

Choose fabrics that are easy to clean. Consider your intended use for the piece. Is it for a family room that’s going to see lots of buttery popcorn fingers? Do you have pets or children, or both? There are several upholstery options that may be easier to clean than others.

Cotton and Cotton Blends:

Cotton/cotton blends can be a very durable fabric choice for a couch or comfy chair. It’s especially resistant to wear and tear, and many manufacturers apply fabric guards to combat stains and soil.


Microfiber is a popular choice for upholstery due to its soft, comfortable feel and its durability. It’s relatively easy to treat most spills on microfiber, and this type of fabric is receptive to many stain removal products.

Synthetic Fabrics:

Think acrylic and polyester. These fabrics don’t absorb liquids as readily as other fabrics, making them ideal for high traffic pieces in your home. The fabric is very resistant to spills and stains and is easy to clean with mild soap.


In terms of ease of cleaning, leather may be a popular choice for your home or business. Leather is a durable, natural fiber that can generally be wiped down with a damp cloth. To protect a leather finish, use saddle soap (this is mild soap with softening oil compounds) and a gentle brush and treat with Armor All or leather protector monthly.

We’ll cover many more tips and tricks for keeping your loveseat, lounger, sofa, settee and everything in between looking their best. When in doubt, never hesitate to contact a professional for assistance.


About Woodard Cleaning & Restoration

Woodard Cleaning & Restoration was founded in 1946 by Earl and Nancy Woodard. Located in St. Louis, Missouri, Woodard services the greater metro area (Illinois, St. Charles County, Jefferson County, St. Louis County, and many more). Woodard is proud to serve as the preferred provider for cleaning & restoration services. Our cleaning services include carpet, hard surface, furniture, and rug cleaning for both residential and commercial properties. We also provide water, fire, board-up, storm and smoke restoration services for residential and commercial clients. For information or questions submit a form online or call us at 314-227-3932.

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Updated 2/16/2014