Shampooing Upholstered Furniture

how to shampoo upholstered furnitureIn order to keep it bright and fresh, Upholstery should be vacuumed at least once a week and shampooed at least once a year.

Items You’ll Need

The basic tool for shampooing is a supply of clean white terrycloth toweling. This is absorbent enough to retain cleaning solutions and abrasive enough to remove dirt without damaging delicate fabrics.

Identify The Fabric Type

Do not attempt to shampoo furniture without first identifying what the fabric content is and whether or not it is washable and color fast.

The manufacturer often attaches a label, usually sewn to the underside of the cushions or stapled to the frame of the couch or chair, that will say what the fabric is made of and how it should be cleaned.

If there is no label, or if the label does not say how it is to be cleaned, then consult a fabric cleaning chart for help in making an educated guess for selecting a suitable cleaning method.

How To Make Upholstery Shampoo (Cleaning Solution)

Most washable fabrics can be cleaned with a weak solution of warm water and a mild non-alkaline detergent.

You can make the cleaning solution by mixing:

  • 1 tablespoon of white powdered laundry detergent
  • 1 teaspoon of household ammonia or white vinegar into 1 gallon of lukewarm water.

The addition of ammonia or white vinegar can enhance the detergent’s brightening effect.

The detergent based cleaning solutions should be whipped into dry foam and applied with toweling or brushes that are moistened, but not wet.

Create the upholstery cleaning foam by:

  • Pouring a small amount of your liquid detergent mixture into a bucket.
  • Using an ordinary kitchen hand-held egg beater or an electric hand mixer, whip the ingredients into stiff foam.
  • Alternately, you can use an electric blender to create the foam.

There should be little or no liquid at the bottom of the bucket when you are finished whipping.

Test the cleaning solution on an inconspicuous part of the upholstery to make sure that it is compatible with the fabric or with the dyes.

If you don’t want to create your own, we recommend Franklin Upholstery Shampoo or Resolve Multi-fabric.

How To Clean Upholstery (Furniture Like Couches, Chairs & Love Seats)

Begin by removing and vacuuming the loose cushions and pillows, then the chair or couch itself.

DO NOT remove zippered cushion or slip covers for washing separately in the washing machine. Though they are designed for easy removal, these covers should be cleaned in place. If they are washed in the washing machine, they may shrink or stretch out of alignment.

  • Fold a clean white terrycloth towel into a convenient working size and dip it lightly into the foam.
  • Wring out the towel thoroughly until no more moisture can be squeezed out.
  • Wipe one complete panel of the upholstery with firm, parallel strokes – either horizontally or vertically overlapping the strokes slightly.
  • Occasionally dip the towel into the foam to replenish it, each time wringing out the towel.
  • As soon as the working surface of the towel appears dirty, re-fold it to expose a clean section to work with. If the foam begins to dissolve in the bucket, whip it again.
  • Repeat the entire process going over the panel in the opposite direction.
  • Remove the foam by wiping the entire panel with a clean terry towel moistened in fresh water and wrung dry until no more moisture can be squeezed out. Work in parallel strokes to the original direction.
  • Rinse the towel clean and wring it dry every time.

Some napped fabrics such as plush, can also be restored with light vacuuming. Run the upholstery attachment over the fabric in overlapping strokes, working in one direction only.

How To Brush Heavy Soil Out Of Upholstery

Heavily soiled areas such as armrests and the headrest may require the heavier abrasion of a nylon or natural bristle scrub brush to remove gummy deposits of body oils and dust. Whichever tool is used, avoid over-wetting.

  • Immerse a soft bristled nylon scrub brush in boiling water for few seconds to soften the bristles. Blot the brush dry with a clean terrycloth towel.
  • Dip the brush into the foam and shake most of the foam back into the bucket.
  • Using light pressure, scrub the upholstery in a circular pattern working on only one square foot at a time.
  • Repeat the scrubbing on adjacent areas and as you work, overlap the areas slightly.
  • Replenish the brush with foam as necessary and when the bristles begin to stiffen, submerge them in boiling water again.
  • Remove the foam with a clean terrycloth towel moistened in fresh water.

When the fabric has dried completely, run your hand back and forth on the fabric to determine the direction of the nap.

Using a clean dry terrycloth towel, raise the nap by wiping the fabric in the opposite direction that the nap wants to lay.

For best results, you can flatten your hand with your fingers extended and stretch the towel across your palm, holding the ends tight with your free hand. Work in smooth, overlapping strokes until the original appearance of the nap is restored.