Floor & Surface Cleaning

How to clean and remove stains from furniture

Daily wear & tear means furniture needs regular cleaning. Use this how to clean upholstery guide for top tips on what products and methods to use.

Key Steps:


  1. When cleaning your upholstery, do not saturate the material – use a small amount of water mixed with a mild laundry detergent like Surf excel liquid detergent, (always test on a inconspicuous area first).
  2. Baby wipes are a quick solution to wipe up spills and stains without saturating the material.
  3. When possible, leave your sofa or chair to dry naturally.

Sofas and chairs are not only vulnerable to surface stains, dust, and dirt, but grime can become deeply embedded into the fibres, too. Even if you can’t see the dirt, it’s there, so for cleanliness and hygiene’s sake, cleaning upholstery on a regular basis is very important. If your sofas and chairs have removable covers, cleaning upholstery becomes simple: wash them by hand, put them through the washing machine, or pop them down to the dry cleaners if there is one nearby – just follow the instructions on the label. If your covers are not removable, however, you’ll need some suitable upholstery cleaners to tackle the stains and dirt.

Finding a Good Upholstery Cleaner

You can buy upholstery cleaners from most stores, but there are other products that you can find around the home that will also help to get your sofas and chairs clean.

  • Mild laundry detergent and warm water, mixed well to create suds – something like Surf excel’s liquid detergent is ideal. A very small dab of the neat liquid can help pre treat stains before you rinse out the fabric.
  • White vinegar: This is a good choice for removing surface stains, but you’ll want to use a soapy solution afterwards to give the area an intensive clean. You’ll also want to air the sofa as much as possible afterwards by opening windows or by using a fan to help reduce the smell of the vinegar.
  • Baby wipes are ideal for spot-cleaning upholstery. They’re very gentle, so they won’t damage the material, and they’re relatively dry, so there’s no chance of over-saturating your furniture.

How to Clean Upholstery in 4 Steps

Furniture cleaning isn’t a science: try out a few techniques before choosing the one that is right for your belongings. This step-by-step guide explains how to clean a sofa:

  1. Before using any upholstery cleaners, vacuum the sofa or chair to remove as much surface dirt and dust as possible. Be sure to use the correct attachments to avoid damage to the material – a soft brush attachment is ideal.
  2. Spot Clean. Apply one of the spot cleaning suggestions supplied above to any obvious stains using a strong microfibre cloth, wiping gently as you go. Remember to test your chosen upholstery cleaner on an inconspicuous area first.
  3. Overall Clean. Using soapy water and a microfibre cloth, gently wipe your sofa with the solution, allowing it to soak into the fabric and tackle the dirt beneath the surface. You only want to use a very small amount of water – don’t saturate the material.
  4. Dry. Some people use a hairdryer to quickly dry a sofa, but allowing it to dry naturally is always the better option, if you have the time. To speed things up, open windows and allow the breeze to help with the drying process.

Leather Sofa Cleaning

If you’ve got a leather sofa or other furniture, you’ll have to use a different method for treating and cleaning upholstery:

  1. Stay away from water as much as possible, as this could stain the material.
  2. If possible, try using a steam cleaner
  3. Apply cleaning products made with oils and waxes, like saddle soap – this cleans while also moisturizing the furniture, preventing it from drying out and cracking and protecting it from future dirt and stains.

Everyday Furniture Cleaning and Maintenance

Sofa upkeep and maintenance means you’ll need to thoroughly tackle cleaning upholstery less often. Here’s how to prevent the dirt and grime build-up:

  • Clean up surface stains as soon as possible. Fresh stains are always easier to lift off – keeping a clean sofa will always reduce the time spent carrying out intensive, deep cleaning treatments.
  • Vacuum your sofas and chairs at least once a week to keep dust and dirt to a minimum and prevent grime from becoming ground in with constant use.
  • If any parts of the sofa or chair are removable, make sure to wash them regularly. A handy hint is to replace covers while they are still slightly damp, so they can dry around the shape of the sofa.

Furniture cleaning isn’t an epic duty: it can be quick and easy. Follow the guide above, and with very little effort you’ll find you have fresh, bright sofas and chairs.

Top Tip

If any parts of the sofa or chair are removable, make sure to wash them regularly. A handy hint is to replace covers while they are still slightly damp, so they can dry around the shape of the sofa.