Have you ever wondered how to get your upholstered furniture looking almost like new? Furniture cleaning is a fine art and many homeowners often opt to let professionals take care of the job. But if you’re dealing with a minor stain, it's a good idea to examine each of your furniture pieces carefully before deciding whether upholstery cleaning services are the way to go.

The good news is that there are several easy techniques anyone can use to do a basic cleaning job on all upholstered chairs, sofas, ottomans, and other furniture items. Here's a step-by-step approach that shows you how to clean your own furniture and then decide whether you need to bring in help to finish off the toughest challenges! 

“Set your goals high, and don't stop till you get there." – Bo Jackson

Step One: Inspection

Don't rush. Furniture cleaning is a delicate operation and if you don't take your time, it's easy to ruin a favorite piece of furniture. 

Start by making a list of all the things that need to be cleaned. Number your list and name each item. If you end up calling a professional cleaning service, these notes will come in very handy as they'll be able to see what you already did to each piece of furniture. Make notes about the kinds of stains, how bad they are, and what their possible causes were, e.g., gum, wine, ink, etc.

Step Two: Vacuuming

Remove cushions where possible and use a standard "upholstery" attachment of a household vacuum cleaner to go over the main surfaces of every piece. This step is about removing loose dust and debris. Be sure to go over all of the upholstered surfaces twice with the vacuum. 

Next, use the attachment for crevices to get into the nooks and crannies of your furniture. For corners and other challenging places that appear to be full of impacted dust, use a can of compressed air to blow the stuff away.

Step Three: Vinegar

  1. Dilute some white vinegar about 50-50 with water. Mix up about a cup of the solution and heat it in the microwave until it's lukewarm. 
  2. Apply about a half teaspoon of the water-and-vinegar solution to a microfiber cloth.
  3. Gently rub the moist cloth directly onto stains and other discolored spots. 
  4. When the dirt begins to come up, switch to a clean part of the cloth and add a new dose of the solution. 

After cleaning a few spots, use a separate micro-fiber cloth, a completely dry one, and press it against the moist areas of the furniture to lift out the solution as thoroughly as you can.

Note: After the vinegar-and-water method, you can ask a retail store manager about the best upholstery cleaner they sell, and follow label directions carefully. You can skip this part if you are happy with the results you get from the vinegar technique. Professionals use their own proprietary cleaning solutions, so don’t expect to find any miraculous solutions on local stores.

Step Four: Dry and Wait

Wait about an hour for all the spot-cleaning areas to fully dry. Some spots don't disappear until the fabric dries, so you might be pleasantly surprised at the results after waiting a short while. Chances are there will still be a few stubborn stains and discolorations on some of your furniture pieces, but don't fret. You've done everything a non-professional can do. 

It's important to let the moist areas dry naturally. Resist the temptation to use a blow dryer. If you use intense, quick bursts of heat, there's a risk of creating additional stains from the heated vinegar. It's best to just open windows and turn on ceiling fans to speed up the drying process. Or, put your furniture on the patio if the weather is agreeable, but keep it out of the sun.

Step Five: Get Outside Help

If there are major stains, tears, mangled fabric, or major discoloration, you might want to call a cleaning expert, professional couch cleaning service, or similar type of company. Call around and speak with several pros in your area and explain to them what kind of help you need and the condition of the furniture. In most cases, a professional sofa cleaning and general furniture cleaning service will be able to help you.

Remember that if you are averse to the DIY approach, it's always possible to have a professional cleaner come in and examine your furniture pieces. Experts will let you know what needs to be done and will give you a quote for the entire job.

Need help cleaning your sofa and other upholstery pieces? Contact a local upholstery cleaning company and request a free quote! 


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