One of the biggest cleaning questions people have is how to clean upholstery. The key to keeping your upholstered furniture looking great is 2 parts prevention, 1 part cure. Because your couch is probably one of the most popular pieces of furniture in your house as well as one of the biggest investments, a little attention and prevention can go a long way to keeping it clean and beautiful for years to come.
Just like carpets, your upholstery needs to be vacuumed regularly to prevent abrasive crumbs and dirt particles from causing damage. This is the key to how to clean upholstery. At least once a month, break out your upholstery and crevice nozzle attachments, and give your upholstery a good vacuum. Be sure to get both sides of the cushions, the top of the frame cover, and all the nooks and crannies (this would also be a good time to tip up the couch and vacuum underneath as well). Steer clear of the brush attachment as that will just move the dust around instead of getting it into the vacuum bag. If your family is anything like mine, you will be rewarded well for your efforts ($.68 in spare change, a few stale M&Ms, and a pencil or two).
To remove hair, loose dirt and food particles between deep cleans, use a sticky rolling lint remover (or you can wrap scotch tape around your hand, sticky side out, then press your hands over the furniture). Another way to remove pet hair is to use a wet pair of rubber gloves, gently rubbing your hands over the surface of the furniture. The hair will easily roll into a ball for quick disposal. If you have a pet, and pet hair is a constant battle, you may want to invest in a hand-held vacuum to remove pet hair -this is how to clean upholstery quickly before your friends come over!
Step Two to how to clean upholstery is prevention! Using the arm and headrest covers that came with your upholstered piece, or throws, will protect your upholstery from the oils of your skin and pet hair. If you prefer not to keep your upholstery covered up, consider keeping a throw nearby for certain occasions. Some of the toughest stains to remove from upholstery are butter, pizza, coffee/fruit punch and ink. So while it may be too much to ask to refrain from doing those activities on the couch (that would cause a riot in my house), I would recommend bringing out the throw and sitting on it when you are engaging in high-risk staining activities (such as when the kids are coloring with ink pens, the family is eating buttered popcorn, or you are serving pizza and punch). In upholstery care, a little prevention goes a long way!
Step Three to how to clean upholstery is stain removal. BEFORE ANY SPOT REMOVAL, TEST A SMALL HIDDEN AREA FIRST. Many stains can easily be removed if you have the right products on hand. I would recommend investing in the following products: a stack of clean, white towels (you can buy these in bulk in the car-care section of many stores), a good quality, grease-cutting dishwashing liquid, white vinegar , ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, isopropyl rubbing alcohol or hairspray, and a professional dry-cleaning solvent. The first line defense in stain removal is to take ¼ cup of dishwashing liquid, mix with 1 cup of warm water, and whip into a foam. Take a clean white towel, dip into the foam, blot over the stain. Continue to deposit foam onto the stain, gently blotting, and using as little water as possible. Continue to rotate the towel to avoid re-depositing the grime back onto the upholstery. Follow up greasy stains with a 1/3 cup white vinegar to 2/3 cup warm water rinse. Hydrogen peroxide is great for food-based stains, like wine or grape juice. Hair spray or alcohol is best for ink stains. With a little elbow grease, most spots are easily removed.