Upholstery Cleaning Before The Holiday Season

Steam Cleaning Upholstered Furniture

Steam cleaners remove stains, imbedded dirt and odors from most upholstered furniture, and at the right temperature, they can also disinfect sofas, chairs and ottomans. A steam cleaner relies on hot water rather than chemicals or scented shampoos, making it ideal for a wide range of fabrics and for people sensitive to fragrance. Don’t steam-clean upholstery that is sensitive to water, including leather, and always check the furniture’s care tag for specific cleaning recommendations.

Get the Right Equipment

A subpar steam cleaner makes little difference in the cleanliness and appearance of upholstery, but a unit with an upholstery attachment with stiff bristles gently scrubs the upholstery, loosening dirt and stains quickly. A medium- to large-size tank reduces refill trips, saving time; a 48-ounce tank lasts approximately 45 minutes with continuous steaming, while a small 6-ounce tank runs out in as few as 10 minutes. If a smaller unit is your only option, choose a steam cleaner that heats quickly. The temperature achieved by the device is also important: A cheap steam cleaner that only heats water to a relatively tepid temperature won’t loosen dirt as effectively or disinfect the upholstery. A steam cleaner should reach at least 158 degrees Fahrenheit to sanitize upholstery and 212 degrees to disinfect.

Vacuuming and Pretreating

Vacuum the furniture thoroughly with a soft-bristle attachment before cleaning to give the steam cleaner a head start. Pretreating stains also leads to the best results. Plain vodka removes many food stains as well as grass and ink spots, while mild detergent and water remove coffee and some fatty stains, such as those caused by cheese. Use a dry cleaning solvent on more stubborn stains. Test your chosen spot treatment in a hidden area before tackling the actual stain; not all fabrics stand up well to stain removers, and certain products may cause lightening or discoloration.

Steam Cleaning Tips

Read the directions provided by the steam cleaner manufacturer thoroughly before starting. Work your way from the top of the furniture down and spend ample time on each section. A quick once-over won’t remove dirt and stains effectively, nor disinfect the upholstery. Spend at least 1 minute per section for the best results, and up to 5 minutes per section if your steam cleaner only reaches a lower heat. Don’t add shampoo or upholstery cleaner to the tank. A traditional steam cleaner isn’t outfitted with a rinsing tank, and any shampoo will remain in the upholstery. When you’re finished, refrain from sitting on or using the furniture until it’s completely dry. Speed up the process by opening windows or setting up a box fan in the room.

Benefits of Professional Steam Cleaners

When faced with excessively dirty upholstery, hiring a professional is in the best interest of your furniture. Professional steam-cleaning companies utilize industrial-strength equipment that remove even the toughest of stains, and the technician’s experience ensures that he or she doesn’t damage the upholstery in the process. Keep your upholstery clean by steam-cleaning on your own annually, and hire a professional every other year for a deep cleaning. Depending on your lifestyle and the condition of your furniture, you may be able to do this less often or invest in yearly professional cleanings. While steam-cleaning is one of the best ways to make your furniture last for several years, over-cleaning breaks down the fabric and the dyes, wearing the upholstery out quickly. Steam-clean only when it’s necessary and keep furniture in top shape by vacuuming once a week and cleaning stains immediately with a spot remover.


Furniture stains are very unsightly and can take away from the aesthetic of even the most well designed room. Although spills are inevitable and sometimes unavoidable, they don’t always have to stain. With proper spot cleaning and routine maintenance, you can prevent unsightly stains and keep your upholstery looking and feeling like new for years to come. This brief guide will help you clean and maintain your upholstery to maintain its fresh new appearance.

Clean Spills Quickly

When someone spills coffee, soda, or red wine on your upholstered furniture, blot the spill immediately with a clean folded towel. Rubbing the spill will only cause the staining liquids to penetrate the fabric, so remember to blot gently. Before you use a mild cleaning product, test in an inconspicuous area to see if the cleaner has a negative reaction with the fabric

Vacuum Regularly

One important aspect of upholstery cleaning and maintenance is regular vacuuming. Vacuum your upholstered furniture weekly to remove surface soil and prevent dirt from becoming embedded into the fibers. If using a brush attachment, always use a soft bristled brush so you don’t snag and tear the fabric.

Turn Over Loose Cushions

You can greatly extend the life of your upholstered furniture by periodically turning over loose cushions. This easy maintenance step allows for an even distribution of wear and tear which helps the cushions maintain their shape and avoid looking dirty and worn.

Call a Professional

The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification recommends having your upholstered furniture professional cleaned every one or two years. An upholstery cleaning company can remove stains and restore fabric so your furniture looks and feels like new.

Furniture Upholstery

The only downside to upholstery is what can happen when it comes into contact with liquids. Unlike solid surfaces, upholstery fabrics are vulnerable to spills and stains and, therefore, will inevitably require occasional cleaning and care. Savvy homeowners know that not all fabrics are alike. And even more importantly, they also know that this means not all fabrics can be treated the same.

To make it easier for our customers to care for their upholstered Gabby furniture, we classify all of our fabrics under one of four categories. These four cleaning codes explain the exact methods for achieving the best results when cleaning and caring for fabrics. Every one of our fabrics and samples are labeled with one of these four codes, so referencing care and cleaning instructions is a breeze.

Here is a quick look at our four cleaning codes for fabric care.

W: Standing for “water-based only,” this cleaning code is found on fabrics that should not be cleaned with solvents. Rather, these fabrics should be cleaned, but not over wet, with water-based shampoos or foam upholstery cleaners.

S: Fabrics labeled with this cleaning code are to be treated with dry-cleaning solvents. The most important thing to remember with this code is to not use water. You do not want to saturate or get these fabrics wet.

SW: This cleaning code is more lenient. Fabrics marked “SW” can be treated with shampoo or dry-cleaning solvents as you desire.

X: Certain fabrics should not be cleaned with water, solvents, or any other cleaners. Rather, it’s only recommended that these fabrics are vacuumed and brushed lightly.

All of our Choice Fabrics and Finishes, for instance, are cleaning code “S.” This collection features some of our most popular imported designs, now available with over 17 fabrics and 5 unique wood finishes to choose from for customized transitional-style seating. Homeowners and designers love using this collection to turn visions into fabulous designs with fabrics that enhance interiors and express personal style

There are a couple of other additional tips we always offer our customers. First, we recommend keeping all covers on cushions. They may have zippers, but we urge you never remove cushion covers to be separately laundered or dry-cleaned. We also carefully instruct customers to refrain from using bleach or any tumble method cleaning service. This may damage, shrink, or destroy the backing of upholstery fabrics. Finally, most of our pile fabrics – no matter the cleaning code – can be brushed to restore their original appearance.

Care & Cleaning

Spot cleaning

Treat spills and stains as soon as possible. Test on hidden area to ensure fabric and colour are not removed. Gently scrape any soil or mop any liquid from the surface of the fabric. Use of soap or detergent with water should be approached with caution since overzealous rinsing to remove soap residue may result in over-wetting, water marking and possible wetting of substructure (this may create other stains or damage products).

For non-oil-based stains use warm water and non-toilet soaps which do not contain optical brighteners (consider Velvet soap, Lux Flakes, Softly). Mix a small amount of soap and warm water solution and apply to the stain, rubbing gently. Blot dry with a clean towel. Apply cool water (preferably filtered or distilled water) and blot dry again. Then with a hair dryer, working out from the centre of the stain, dry quickly to prevent rings forming. It is generally preferable to clean whole panels of fabric in this way rather than trying to spot clean specific areas.

For oil-based stains following the same basic guidelines as above, apply a proprietary brand solvent based cleaner and try to clean generally in panels rather than spot cleaning specific areas. A helpful industry ‘secret’ for spot removal of oil based biro marks is by the application of conventional hair spray or Glen 20.

A First Aid Kit for Fabrics

To further enhance spot cleaning results, have introduced the Halo Fabric Care Kit which includes Halo spot cleaner for most household stains, Halo fabric deodoriser to help neutralise pet and general odours and Halo fabric protector to restore liquid repellency on fabric sections that have been spot cleaned

Professional fabric servicing

Fabrics recommend that water-based ‘Fluro chemical’ type fabric protectors be applied by licensed applicators only. Check your care label first to see if a mill-applied protection was incorporated during fabric manufacture. Fabric protectors do not eliminate the need for vacuuming, routine cleaning or proper care. They will, however, make spot cleaning and vacuuming quicker, easier and more efficient between professional cleans and keep your fabric looking cleaner longer, as well as extending its life. Professionals applying fabric protectors must always pre-test to qualify fabric suitability.


Extreme caution should be taken if considering treatment of velvets and pocket weaves with stain repellent products. Some high pile velvet and pocket weave jacquards may change in surface character if stain repellent treatments are incorrectly applied. Extra care should be taken to pre-test for these fabrics.

Upholstery Cleaning for All Furniture Types

Try as you may to protect your furniture, whether you have a house full of kids and animals or it’s just you alone, spills and stains are inevitable. And even if you are careful and manage to avoid big disasters and small spills, cleaning furniture thoroughly is an important task that many people forget about. In fact, you may not even realize how much bacteria and allergens have built up in your upholstery — and which could even be contributing negatively toward your health.

Because of all this, it’s crucial that you make sure to clean your couches and other furniture thoroughly and regularly. Professional upholstery cleanings are the best way to eradicate bacteria and allergens, but proper maintenance in between cleanings is also essential. Here is a guide to everything you need to know about furniture and upholstery cleaning for each type of furniture.

What is the Best Way to Clean a Fabric Sofa?

There are a few different ways to tackle a fabric sofa, some are things that you should do regularly, and some at larger intervals or when a spill occurs:

Dry brush

Sometimes removing dirt and crumbs can be as simple as using a dry brush to loosen and sweep it off. Be sure to lay down something to catch the debris, or vacuum after.


A vacuum also works wonders on a fabric couch. Without having to get into water and water-based solutions, you can utilize a hand-held vacuum to clean and get into the nooks and crannies.

Wash covers

The benefit of some fabric furniture is that it has covers that you can simply unzip and wash in a regular machine. If yours has these covers, be sure to check for the specific washing instructions for that material.

Use baking soda

Sprinkling baking soda over a fabric couch can be a great way to remove odors and loosen stains, before vacuuming it up. You can also create a solution for a deeper clean or spot clean, with equal parts baking soda and water. Take care using baking soda on some upholstered surfaces like microfiber and leather.

How to Maintain Leather Furniture

Many people love the durability of leather furniture, as well as the perception that it is easy to clean. However, a great deal of attention is required when you have leather furniture, as many of the most common upholstery cleaning products will break down leather finishes and could cause permanent damage.

Here are some tips for maintaining leather furniture:

Wipe up spills as quickly as possible

Be sure to use towels or cloths that are soft and absorbent to lessen the potential for scratching the leather.

Keep it away from sunlight and ventilation

Placement of your leather furniture is more important than you think. Things such as sunlight or being placed directly next to an air-conditioning vent can age the leather much quicker.