If your couch or chair is looking a little dingy (or even downright dirty), you don't have to reach for the strong chemical cleansers. These DIY upholstery cleaner recipes are better for the planet and easier on your furniture too. There are a few different options to try, depending on whether you're spot cleaning, using a machine, or scrubbing by hand.
Before You Begin: Check Your Tags
Before you get started, check the tag of your upholstery for the cleaning instructions. These letters on the tag will guide your cleaning approach:
- W - Use water-based cleaners. These DIY cleaner recipes may be a good choice.
- S - Only use solvent-based cleaners like dry cleaning chemicals; skip DIY options.
- W/S - Use either water-based or solvent-based cleaners.
- X - Don't use cleaners.
DIY Upholstery Cleaner for W and W/S Materials
This simple DIY spray cleaner is environmentally friendly and easy to make. As with all upholstery cleaners (DIY or store-bought), test it first in a spot no one will see, such as the underside of a cushion. Use it sparingly, since too much liquid can cause stains, even on upholstery that is labeled W or W/S.
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 tablespoons rubbing alcohol
- Mix the vinegar, water, and alcohol in a spray bottle.
- Lightly spray the DIY cleaner on the surface of the upholstery. Avoid saturating it.
- With a clean, lint-free cloth, rub the upholstery along the grain of the fabric. Change to clean areas of the cloth as you're working, as it will pick up dirt as you work .
- Using another spray bottle of plain water, lightly spray the surface again to rinse it.
- Blot dry with another clean, lint-free cloth. Allow the fabric to air dry completely before use.
Homemade Upholstery Cleaner for Machines
If you have a portable carpet and upholstery cleaner, you know how well these machines can work. The only issues are the expense and chemical odor of some of the cleaning products they use. This DIY upholstery cleaner for machines offers an alternative that uses environmentally friendly hydrogen peroxide as the base. It is safe to use on W and W/S upholstery. As with all cleaning products, though, test it first in a spot no one will see.
- 8 cups hot water
- 1/3 cup hydrogen peroxide (3% solution)
- 1/2 tablespoon liquid Castille soap
- Mix the hydrogen peroxide, soap, and water and pour into the tank of the machine.
- Use the machine to clean the upholstery as usual.
- Set the machine to the rinse cycle and use clear water to rinse the upholstery.
- Allow the furniture to air dry.
DIY Spot Cleaner for Upholstery
Sometimes a set-in spot can be stubborn, but you can make a DIY upholstery spot cleaner to help. Removing stains from furniture can depend on the material the furniture is made of and the type of stain you're dealing with. However, this recipe can work on a lot of W and W/S materials.
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 3 tablespoons warm water
- Mix the baking soda and water to create a paste.
- Spread the paste on the stain and leave it there for 10 minutes.
- Use a clean, lint-free cloth to remove the paste and scrub away the stain. If needed, you can also use a toothbrush.
- Rinse with clean water and blot dry.
Clean Without Harsh Chemicals
Often, cleaning your upholstery doesn't require harmful chemicals. It's always worth trying the DIY, environmentally friendly approach first if the material allows. It's a simple process that will leave your furniture looking cleaner and smelling fresher in no time.