The upholstery of everyday furniture inevitably accumulates stains over time. Spills and stains are best removed as soon as they occur, but this isn’t always realistic with everyday schedules.
Stain removal is an easy solution to revive upholstery, but it’s not always an easy task. Even when you succeed in removing a stain, there’s always the risk of discoloring or damaging the fabric of the upholstery during the cleaning process.
Whether you’re caring for your velvet furniture or restoring a valuable antique, knowing how to care for the upholstery to avoid spending time and money on replacing the furniture altogether is beneficial. Learn how to safely remove stains from upholstery to avoid damage to the fabric of your furniture or the cost of a professional cleaning service.
1. Find the Item’s Cleaning Code
You can find the cleaning code on the tag of your upholstery to determine what type of cleaning solution you should use. If you use the incorrect cleaning solution for your upholstery, you can worsen the stain. If you see an X, be sure to avoid cleaning the upholstery at home altogether, or else you risk damaging the fabric.
The following are some common cleaning codes:
- W: Water-based cleaner
- S: Solvent-based cleaner
- S/W: Water or solvent-based cleaner
- X: Professional cleaning required
Checking the tag for specific instructions on how to care for the upholstery is also important. If you’re removing a stain from an antique or a piece of furniture without a tag, perform a spot test on a hidden place on the furniture with the cleaning solution.
2. Remove Debris
Removing physical dirt and debris is the first step to effectively removing a stain. Use a vacuum to remove excess dirt and particles from the upholstery.
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Even if the stain is old, the vacuuming process can strengthen the stain removal process.
3. Steam the Furniture
If the upholstery you’re working with is compatible with a water-based cleaner, the most efficient way to remove a stain is to steam the area before applying the cleaning solution. An iron or a regular steamer can loosen the stain from the fibers in the upholstery and aid the stain removal process.
4. Apply a Cleaning Solution
Use a mixture of a gentle cleaning solution and lukewarm water along with a sponge or soft rag to blot the stain. Avoid rubbing the stain, as the pressure can deteriorate the fabric or cause pilling.
Use a pressing motion to dry the washed area with a dry rag, and repeat the steps as needed. If the stain requires a solvent-base cleaner, the best solution is to apply vodka or vinegar mixed with water using the same technique.
Expose all the surfaces of your upholstery to air to dry it out and to avoid water damage or unpleasant odors. Be mindful of oversaturating the upholstery fabric to avoid weakening the fibers or making the cleaning solution difficult to remove.
If the above steps are ineffective, the next best move is to consult a professional cleaning service to remove the stain with minimal damage to the upholstery.