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How to Remove Stains from Upholstered Furniture

Make your upholstered furniture look like new again by getting out spots and stains.


  • Step 1: Clean stains immediately Blot spills immediately with a clean, white cloth, and then clean the spot as quickly as you can. The more time that elapses, the more difficult it will be to remove stains.
  • TIP: Make sure you blot. Never rub a stain into fabric; it will embed the stain into the material, making it harder to remove.
  • Step 2: Look at the label For upholstered furniture, check for an instructions tag before attacking any stain. "W" means you can spot-clean the item with water-based detergent. "S" indicates cleaning with a water-free product, like dry-cleaning solvent. "SW" means you can use either water or a dry-cleaning product. "X" means the item should be professionally cleaned.
  • TIP: Never machine wash slipcovers – they could shrink. Take them to the dry cleaners.
  • Step 3: Test a small area You have several options for washable upholstery, depending on the stain. Test an inconspicuous area of the furniture before applying any product.
  • Step 4: Fight food stains Get most food and beverage stains out by swishing 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid with 2 cups of cool water and dabbing the resultant suds onto the stain with a clean, white cloth. Blot until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat the dabbing and blotting until the stain is gone. Dab with cold water and blot dry.
  • Step 5: Be berry careful For berry stains, follow the previous procedure, but replace the dishwashing liquid solution with a mixture of 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 2/3 of a cup of rubbing alcohol.
  • Step 6: Absorb grease If gravy, margarine, mayonnaise, cooking oil, or butter has left grease marks, sprinkle baking soda or cornstarch on it, let it stand for about 15 minutes, then vacuum. Then apply a dry-cleaning solvent to the area with a clean, white cloth, blotting it until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat with solvent as needed.
  • Step 7: Know some exceptions With peanut butter, spaghetti sauce, and yogurt stains, even on washable upholstery, use dry-cleaning solvent, available online. Apply it with a clean, white cloth, blotting, and repeating until the stain is gone.
  • FACT: Victorian upholstery was usually stuffed with horsehair.

You Will Need

  • Clean
  • white cloths
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Baking soda or cornstarch
  • A vacuum with a hose attachment
  • Dry-cleaning solvent

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