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Upholstery Care

A critical though often neglected responsibility of upholstery owners is routine maintenance. Care must begin when the upholstery is first put into service. The following guidelines will assist you in maintaining upholstered fabrics.


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Controlling Soil


Upholstered furniture is more susceptible to soiling on arms and seat cushions, as well as the upper inside back, head-rests, pillows and skirt areas. Using arm covers and rotating seat cushions frequently prolongs fabric life and appearance.

Dry Soil Removal


Vacuuming and, depending on fabric durability and construction, brushing upholstery routinely is recommended to remove dust and particle soil. This enhances appearance and prolongs fabric life. Equally important, the soil that is vacuumed from the fabric must not be allowed to re-enter the air, possibly contributing to indoor environmental pollution (IEP).

Immediate Spotting


Most spots or spills can be removed easily if the excess is scooped up or blotted and treated immediately with plain water or neutral spotters. If ignored, these spots, or components thereof, may bond to fibers, possibly causing permanent stains. Immediate spot cleaning is essential. Extreme caution must be observed when spotting leather or dry-clean-only fabrics.

Cleaning Frequency


Every 12 to 24 months, professionally clean upholstered furniture and fabrics subjected to routine use. Increased cleaning frequency may be required when fabric subjected to heavy use, or when it is located in homes occupied by persons with allergies or respiratory sensitivity.

Furniture and fabric manufacturers recommend that consumers not wait until severe soiling occurs before cleaning is accomplished. The greater the soiling, the less the likelihood of restoring the original color, appearance and texture of the fabric – and the greater the adverse affect on indoor environmental quality (IEQ).

This information is taken from The Clean Trust S-300 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Upholstery Cleaning. For more information, visit The Clean Trust.

Upholstery Care:  Created on April 27th, 2004.  Last Modified on January 21st, 2014


About Ruth Travis

Ruth Travis

Ruth Travis holds a degree in textiles from the University of Tennessee. She is Director of the WoolSafe Organization in North America, Past-President of the Society of Cleaning and Restoration Technicians (, Past-President of the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (now The Clean Trust), and Past-Chair of the IICRC Marketing Committees. She also served on the IICRC S100 Carpet Cleaning, S300 Upholstery Cleaning and the S520 Mold Remediation Standard committees.

She owned and operated her own carpet and upholstery cleaning service company for 13 years in Chattanooga, TN. She is an IICRC-certified Master Textile Cleaner, Master Fire and Smoke Restorer, Journeyman Water Damage Restorer and a Carpet, Laminate and Resilient flooring inspector. Ruth specializes in carpet color correction for major carpet mills and consumers. She is an IICRC-approved instructor in color repair, upholstery/fabric cleaning and rug cleaning, and travels throughout the country and abroad teaching other cleaning professionals. See the Ruglady ( for more information.