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The Easy DIY Guide for Getting Stains Out of Upholstery

With the hectic pace of modern life, rugs and other upholstered furniture can really take a beating, especially with the daily onslaught of everyday mishaps from pets, kids, and wine spills. But the task of keeping your furniture and rugs looking like new is much easier than you think. 

If you’re wondering how to get stains out of upholstery, the design pros at Fashion Furniture have rounded up the best tips for easy maintenance of all your upholstery, including sofas, rugs, home decor accents, and car seats: 

How to Remove Stains From Different Types of Upholstery: 

Fabric upholstery

Whether it’s a sofa, ottoman, or accent pillow, the home decor experts at recommend a homemade cleaning solution of 1/4 cup vinegar, 3/4 cup warm water, and a tablespoon of liquid dish soap. Simply place the mixture in a spray bottle and mist any soiled areas. Let the cleaner soak into the fabric for several minutes and then scrub with a soft cloth until the stain is removed. 

Leather upholstery

An easy to make homemade cleaner is a spray bottle containing 1/2 cup of olive oil and ½ cup of vinegar. Spray the couch with the solution and wipe down with a soft cloth, which will help buff the surface for a shiny luster. 

Synthetic upholstery

For synthetic textiles, combine 1/2 cup of vinegar, 1 cup of warm water, and 1/2 teaspoon of liquid dish soap into a spray bottle. Mist the affected areas and scrub with a soft cloth until the stain lifts from the fabric. 

Pro tip: 

When deciding on home decor, look for rugs made up of individual squares, which are attached with adhesive and can be easily removed from the floor in small sections. This makes spot cleaning much easier than a traditional one-piece rug.

How to Remove Pet Stains & Odor 

The stains and odor from cat urine can ruin your furniture, especially if you don’t treat the area right away. As Joan Clark from points out,”… It is important to soak up the urine without driving the urine into the cushions or fill material below the fabric.” First, blot the area with paper towels or a soft cloth. Don’t rub the fabric because it will spread the stain further. 

For an easy to make homemade upholstery cleaner for pet stains, mix together 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 tablespoons of vinegar. For even more odor removing action, add 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide to the mixture. As you spot clean the affected area, dab at the stain with a small amount of the mixture. 

Once the area is lightly dampened with the cleaner, remove the excess moisture with a dry cloth. Make sure not to soak the fabric, which will only push the urine deeper into the cushions. Repeat this process of dabbing and drying until the stain is removed.

The last step is to sprinkle baking soda on the stain, which will neutralize the acid in cat urine and deodorize the fabric. Dust the baking soda thoroughly into the fabric, allow it to dry, and then vacuum up the excess. Repeat these steps until the odor and stains are completely gone. 

How to Deep Clean an Upholstered Couch 

No one likes to sit on a dingy looking couch, which is why a deep clean is a necessary task after many months of everyday wear and tear. 

The first step is to use a hand vacuum or the brush attachment on a regular size vacuum to clean any crumbs on the surface and in between the cushions. Make sure to vacuum the crevices where cat hair and crumbs can gather.

Next, wipe down any wood or metal areas such as the sofa feet with a mixture of warm water and dish soap. 

Before treating the fabric with stain remover, make sure to look at the tag and follow the instructions for how to clean it. For example, some instructions will be labeled with codes such as WS, which recommends using a dry cleaning detergent or steam vacuum. 

Other codes include S, which advises using dry cleaning detergent only; and X, which suggests using a vacuum without water. Another common code is W, which means that you should use only water to clean the fabric.

Now that you know what type of fabric you’re dealing with, it’s time to remove stains, no matter how old or stubborn. Following the recommendations outlined above, make sure you use the best cleaner for the type of fabric. Clark recommends doing a spot test before using any cleaner: “Choose an inconspicuous spot on your furniture. This could be on the underside of the furniture, or maybe in the hem or on the back of the furniture.” This allows you to test the cleaner in a spot that is rarely seen, just in case the solution doesn’t work and it stains the fabric.

After removing the stains with upholstery cleaner, soak up any excess water with a towel and then let the couch thoroughly air dry. To speed up the process, set up a fan pointing towards the sofa for fast drying. 

How to Clean Car Upholstery

A combination of a few household ingredients is all it takes to make an effective cleaner that gets stains out of your car upholstery. Simply mix the following ingredients into a spray bottle: 1/2 cup club soda or carbonated water, 1/2 cup vinegar, 2 tablespoons dish soap, 3 to 4 drops of your favorite essential oils (we recommend orange or lemon). Along with homemade upholstery cleaner, you will also need a shop vacuum or steam cleaner, a scrub brush, and a spray bottle filled with water.

Generously spray the cleaner on the upholstery, making sure that the solution thoroughly soaks into the stains; allow the cleaner to set for 3 to 4 minutes. For stubborn upholstery stains on your car seats, scrub the area using small circles until the dirt is lifted from the fabric. Next, spray the area with water and either vacuum or steam clean the spot to remove the cleaning solution. Allow to dry thoroughly. Also, keep in mind that you should only use this cleaning method on fabric car upholstery; never use on leather seats. 

For leather car seats, spray a mixture of 1/2 cup of olive oil and 1/2 cup of vinegar onto the surface. Then, using a small circular pattern, wipe down with a soft dry cloth, which will help shine and buff the leather. 

No matter how messy life gets, try these simple and effective cleaning tips to keep all your upholstery looking sparkling clean. 


Stay tuned for more expert tips from the Fashion Furniture blog, your source for the latest trends in interior design. For all your interior design needs, contact Fashion Furniture today!

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