What Is the Best Way To Clean Upholstery?

Upholstery is a great way to add a touch of comfort and style to any room in your home. But like any other type of furniture, upholstery can get dirty and stained over time. If you want to keep your upholstered furniture looking its best, it’s important to know how to clean it properly. Here’s what you need to know about the best way to clean upholstery. 

Look For ThE Cleaning Code Tag

Always check the manufacturer’s label for proper care and cleaning. The tag is found underneath the seat cushions. Follow the cleaning guidelines.

Code W – These fabrics can be cleaned with water-based cleaning agents.

Code S – Use only a dry cleaning or water-free solvent. We recommend these fabrics be cleaned by a professional Fine Fabric Care Specialist.

Code W-S – These upholstery fabrics can be cleaned with either water-based or solvent-based products.

Code X – When you see the X, run as fast as you can! Seriously, avoid any type of wet or solvent cleaning. X-coded fabric is designed for only vacuuming or light brushing to remove dry soils.

Upholstery Cleaning Code Tag - Tapestry Fine Carpet, Rug & Upholstery Cleaning

As you can see in the photo, some tags will not list a code, but will still provide cleaning guidelines. Whether you have found a cleaning code tag or not, always proceed cautiously and test in an inconspicuous area to see how the fabric reacts with moisture and the cleaning solution. Never scrub upholstery fabric! Whipping up the cleaning detergent to create a dense foam and only applying the foam is an excellent technique to minimize problems.

Thorough Vacuuming 

The first step in cleaning upholstery is vacuuming. Vacuuming helps remove dust, dirt, pet hair, and other debris that can accumulate on the fabric over time. To vacuum upholstered furniture, use an attachment with a soft brush or upholstery nozzle. Be sure to go over each area multiple times and pay special attention to crevices and seams where dirt can accumulate. You will be amazed at what a thorough vacuuming can do.

Determine the Direction of the Nap

You can find the direction of the nap by running the back of your hand in different directions over the fabric. Does one way feel smoother than the other? If so, then it has a nap. The direction that feels smoother (with the fibres laying down) is referred to as “with the nap”. Why is this important? When cleaning upholstery, always rub with the nap and never against it. Cleaning upholstery against the nap, or with a back-and-forth motion will cause texture damage. If there is no nap, then you can use a circular motion when cleaning.

Spot Cleaning Upholstery 

To spot clean upholstery, gently blot the area with a cloth damped with distilled water. If the spot is still visible, mix a solution of distilled water and a mild detergent such as Ivory Gentle Dishwashing Liquid or Puracy Natural Carpet and Upholstery Shampoo, and apply it directly onto the stain using a soft cloth or sponge. Gently rub with the direction of the nap until the stain is gone, then blot with a clean cloth or paper towel.

Deep Cleaning Upholstery 

For more thorough cleaning, you may consider deep cleaning your upholstered furniture every year or two. Regular cleaning will help keep it looking its best for years to come. To deep clean your furniture, start by vacuuming as described above. Then mix a solution of distilled water and mild detergent or dish soap (see above for recommendations), and apply it directly onto the fabric using a soft cloth or sponge. Gently rub the area in the direction of the nap. Repeat as needed. Then blot dry with a clean cloth or paper towel. Finally, use an upholstery brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner to fluff the fabric for added softness.

Using Professional Services 

If you do not have time or feel comfortable cleaning your upholstered furniture, you may want to consider hiring a professional instead. Professional cleaners use specialized equipment to remove tough stains and dirt from the most delicate fabrics without damaging them. They also know which products are safe to use on different kinds of fabric, so you do not have to worry about accidentally ruining your furniture.


Keeping your upholstered furniture looking its best requires a few basic steps. Follow the manufacturer’s label for proper care and cleaning. Regular vacuuming is essential for removing dust and debris from fabric surfaces. Spot cleaning can help remove stubborn stains quickly and easily. Deep cleaning is needed when the oils build up. Hiring a professional upholstery cleaning service like Tapestry Fine Carpet, Rug & Upholstery Cleaning in Victoria, BC, is a great option to protect your investment. Hiring a professional is always best when cleaning natural and fine fibres and fabrics like velvet, cotton, or linen. With these tips in mind, you should be able to keep your upholstered furniture looking great for years!