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Upholstery Cleaning and Care


You probably invested quite of bit of time (and not an insignificant amount of money) selecting upholstered furniture for your home. Proper cleaning and care will keep it looking great and extend its useful life. These tips from IEHA will help you protect your investment and avoid common, but costly, mistakes.


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Regular Maintenance
  • Dirt, dust, and body oils are hazards of everyday use, but you can minimize wear and tear by vacuuming and rotating cushions weekly.
  • Be aware of potential stain-makers. Newspapers and other items with ink or dyes (including new denim jeans) can bleed onto light-colored upholstery.
  • Avoid positioning furniture in direct sunlight to minimize fading, and keep it at least 10 inches away from vents or fireplaces, which could cause over-drying and cracking (especially in the case of leather upholstery).
  • Have your upholstered furniture professionally cleaned every year or two, before it becomes visibly soiled. See “Hiring An Upholstery Pro” for tips on selecting the right company.
  • Except for emergency cleanups, never remove the fabric cushion covers to wash separately. Have the entire piece of furniture cleaned to prevent uneven fading, wear, and discoloration.
  • Don’t remove that tag. You won’t be arrested, but it may have cleaning code that will help you determine the best method for cleaning your furniture. For more information on manufacturers’ cleaning codes, see this HC-Pedia entry: Upholstery.
Spot Removal
  • Test spot-removal products in an inconspicuous area, even if the cleaner has been recommended for your particular upholstery fabric. Do not over-saturate upholstery fabric, even if it is water-washable. Never scrub or use vigorous motions, which could damage the fabric.
  • Blot up spills as soon as they happen with a dry, white cloth or white paper towels, using a light touch. Turn or replace the cloth or towels frequently. Excessive pressure can push liquid deeper into the fabric.
  • Don’t use a wet cloth initially to clean a dry spill. Instead, remove with a soft brush or vacuum with a brush attachment. Mud should be allowed to dry, and then gently scraped away before vacuuming. 
  • For peanut butter, lotion, or other oil-based messes, lift excess carefully using a plastic scraper. Do not use any liquid cleaner until all of the surface substance has been removed. If an oily stain remains, dab a manufacturer-recommended spot cleaner from the outer edges of the spot to the center.
Upholstery Cleaning and Care:  Created on October 3rd, 2008.  Last Modified on January 21st, 2014


About IEHA


The International Executive Housekeepers Association (IEHA) is a 3,200-plus member organization for housekeeping management. Executive housekeepers are managers that direct housekeeping programs in commercial, industrial or institutional facilities, including upscale hotels, hospitals, schools, and other public places. The non-profit was founded in 1930 in New York City, and is now located in Westerville, Ohio, a suburb of the state’s capitol.