A homemade upholstery cleaner can be the ultimate game-changer in keeping any stains off your upholstery. Your furniture and car’s upholstery take the full beating from accidental spills, food smudges, pet assault, and all the dirt it is exposed to.
You know that you need to regularly clean it so that you can give your chairs, tables, and couches a few more years. But almost all commercial upholstery cleaners are expensive. And sadly, not all are guaranteed to work. The good news is, a homemade upholstery cleaner — an effective one — is something you can whip up in the comfort of your home.
By using a few items that are readily available in your pantry, you can clean and get your upholstery back to its beautiful state. You might even discover that your homemade solution can be more reliable and cost-effective than those commercial cleaners.
You may have realized that the padding on chairs is made of a different material than that used on your car or your couch. Yes, they’re all upholsteries, but they are made of other fabrics. To be able to maintain your upholstery, you need to be familiar with the specific fiber used in your furniture.
Understand that some fabrics may be destroyed by using water-based solutions, while others will look brand new with the same cleaner.
The good news is, you can consult with your furniture’s manufacturer for cleaning recommendations. Fun fact — since 1969, all furniture sold in the US includes a care tag. This tag contains vital information that can help you get the best cleaning results.
There are different codes indicated on these tags. For reference, here are the codes and what it means for you as the primary cleaner of the furniture.
- Code S: Clean only with a dry cleaning solution or a water-free solvent.
- Code W: Water-based cleaning solutions like your homemade upholstery cleaners can be used.
- Code X: Avoid any cleaning solution. These cleaners are a no–no because the fabric used in your upholstered furniture can only be cleaned by a professional through vacuuming.
- Code W-S: Both water-based cleaners and solvent-based solutions can be used.
- No-tag is an indication that you will have to make a bit of trial-and-error on an inconspicuous portion of your upholstery’s fabric. Observe how the material reacts to the cleaning agent that you expose it to. Don’t over-saturate the fabric because too much moisture would mean not just having stains on your furniture but also annoying and hard-to-clean molds.
Regardless of the codes, you can still do a spot test for your peace of mind by applying a small amount of your cleaning solution to a spot that’s barely noticeable. Let the cleaning solution dry, and if the area looks like nothing has happened, you have the thumbs-up to make more of that homemade solution.
But if some spots or rings are now visible, then, unfortunately, you have to move on to the next cleaning solution to test.
Why Use Homemade Upholstery Cleaners?
Homemade cleaners are very handy since most of their ingredients are things you already have around the house. They also help cut down on expenses while giving you absolute control over everything that goes into your cleaning solution.
You can easily choose natural and non-toxic ingredients for your upholstery cleaner to ensure that none of the ingredients compromise the health of your household. This is an understandable priority especially when you have children and pets around.
Commercial cleaners on the other hand often have long lists of ingredients that can be intimidating and hard to understand. This can make it difficult to assess if a commercially available upholstery cleaner is safe for you and your family.
One of the reasons people hesitate in using a homemade upholstery cleaner is because of the cleaning codes and instructions that come with different types of upholstery.
It may be easier to just read the packaging on a commercially available cleaner to make sure that it is suited for the type of fabric you wish to clean. Perhaps, however, with this article as a guide, you might want to give the homemade route a try.
Best Homemade Upholstery Cleaners
After learning about all these homemade upholstery cleaners, you will finally have the satisfaction of not seeing that smudge and ink mark from when your first child was still a toddler.
Here are the different homemade upholstery cleaners that you can use depending on the fabric of your upholstery.
Homemade Soap Foam
This is one of the proven and highly recommended homemade upholstery cleaners, and you have this solution readily available.
For this, you will need a pint of boiling water and six tablespoons of your regular soap flakes.
Steps to Make Soap Foam:
- Mix the soap flakes in the boiling water.
- Allow the mixture to cool.
- Wait until the consistency becomes jelly-like or if it starts to become a gel.
- Using an immersion blender or mixer, whip the solution until it forms a head of foam.
How to Clean Using Soap Foam:
Using a soft cloth or a soft-bristled brush, apply the soap foam to the part of the upholstery to be cleaned. You can re-whip the soap gel to produce more bubbles.
After gently scrubbing the upholstery, wipe the foam using a damp cloth. Do not use a wet cloth because this can soak the fabric.
Caption: Rummage through your cupboard today and try this effective DIY upholstery cleaner:
Let’s see this video to collect more understandings:
Homemade Car Upholstery Cleaner
More than your couches or chairs, your cars’ upholstery faces the most significant stains.
There’s your body sweat, the occasional soda spills, the ketchup smears, and the dirt and dust from the roads. All of this dirt and grime permeates into your car’s fabric.
This cleaning recipe can be used for your entire car. You can use this on your carpet, car seats, and even car mats. Note that this homemade upholstery cleaner is not intended for leather. Leather furniture or surfaces have different cleaning requirements.
It will be great to kick off this cleaning activity by vacuuming your car.
Here’s what you will need to make your homemade car upholstery cleaner:
- ¼ cup vinegar
- Half a cup of club soda
- Two tablespoon dish detergent
- 3 to 5 drops of your choice of essential oils. Citrus oils like lemon and orange are best used for this solution.
Steps to Make an All-Around Car Upholstery Cleaner:
- Mix all the ingredients listed above.
- Transfer it into a spray bottle.
How to Clean Using your Car Cleaner:
Generously spray the solution on your upholstery and let your upholstery seep the solution for five minutes.
Using a cloth or a soft-bristled brush, scrub and lift the stains and dirt following a circular pattern. Clean the area by either spraying it with water or by using a wet cloth. Vacuum it dry and repeat the process if there are some leftover stains.
The vinegar may be a little strong even with the essential oils added to the solution. Just give it a couple of days to completely air out the smell.
Caption: Quick and easy way to make your car seats look good as new!
Watch this video to know more:
Homemade Pet Urine Cleaner
Your dog or your cat’s pee can ruin the upholstery of your furniture. It leaves this noticeable stain, and worst, an unpleasant smell for everyone to share unwillingly.
Remember, you must first soak up the pee before cleaning urine stains without pushing the urine further into the cushions and beddings. If you press down too much, you won’t be able to get the stains out.
You can remove the urine’s moisture by using a paper towel to blot the area. Do not rub or press on it because this will only spread the wetness. Let the stained area get completely dry before you use this anti-pet stain solution.
For this, you will need half a cup of water and 2.5 tablespoons of vinegar. Keep your conventional baking soda at hand too.
Steps to Make the Pet Urine Cleaner:
- Mix the two wet ingredients.
- If the pee smell is still strong, you can add hydrogen peroxide to the solution to get rid of the odor.
- Use it sparingly to pat at the stain only to dampen it.
How to Clean Using the Pet Urine Cleaner:
Dab small amounts of the solution to the stain using a cloth. The goal is to dampen it and not to wet the stained spot entirely. After allowing a few minutes for the fabric to seep in that minimal moisture, dry it with a cloth.
Repeat the same process until the stain is completely gone.
Once you are happy with the dabbing and drying process results, prepare your baking soda and sprinkle some into the area.
Cat urine is acidic, which can damage the fabric. The baking soda will help neutralize the pee’s acid and further deodorize the fabric, removing the cat odor as well as the lingering vinegar smell.
After using the baking soda, allow it to dry and vacuum the remaining particles. There are instances that the whole process may need to be repeated after 3-5 days if there are some faint stains left.
Caption: Keep your upholstery odor and stain-free with this detailed cleaning guide!
Watch this video to know more:
Stubborn Ink Upholstery Cleaner
If you have kids at home who are discovering the joys of writing and drawing, then any available space becomes a paper or a blackboard – couches, sofas, and chairs included.
This particular DIY solution is not for furniture with a W code cleaning tag because you will be using rubbing alcohol as one of the ingredients.
To make this cleaner, you will need half a cup of rubbing alcohol, half a cup of distilled white vinegar, and 3-4 drops of essential oil. The oil is purely optional, but it leaves a cleaner and more pleasant smell to neutralize the smell of vinegar.
Steps to Make the Ink Upholstery Cleaner:
- Mix all the ingredients.
- Transfer the solution to a spray bottle.
- Set your spray for mist.
How to Clean Using the Ink Upholstery Cleaner:
Directly spray the solution over the ink stain. Let the fabric absorb it and scrub the ink off using a microfiber towel or a sponge.
Repeat the spray and scrub method until you can remove the stain. Once the stain is removed, make sure that the spot is completely dried.
The longer ink stays on the fabric, the harder it is to remove. So once you notice that your upholstery has a new ink design, try to get the stain out immediately using this homemade solution.
Caption: Just dab those ink stains off of your upholstery with this easy DIY method!
Watch this video to know more:
Homemade Suede Upholstery Cleaner
Most sofas are made of suede, and all sofas, let’s admit it, get turned into the dinner table and bed eventually.
It is one of the dirtiest of all upholstered furniture because it becomes the storage of body sweat, body fluids, body odor, food and drink stains, dirt and crumbs, pet stains, and many other surprises.
Before cleaning your suede upholstery with this homemade upholstery cleaner, it is best to do a thorough vacuum of your couch to get rid of the loose dirt, food, hair, and other dirt.
Once done, you can start preparing your rubbing alcohol and water. Yes, those are the only ingredients you will need for this cleaner.
Steps to Make the Suede Upholstery Cleaner:
- Put your isopropyl alcohol in a spray bottle.
- Water and sponge on standby.
How to Clean Using the Suede Upholstery Cleaner:
You will use a spritz and scrub cleaning technique. Just lightly spritz alcohol on to the upholstery, and while the fabric is still damp, gently scrub at the stain using a sponge.
Make sure you keep rinsing the sponge out with water and wring the sponge well so you don’t risk saturating your furniture. Once you are satisfied with your spritz-and-scrub work outcome, allow your furniture to completely dry. Air drying works best.
Caption: This simple hack will keep your suede upholstery shiny and stain-free!
Watch this video to know more:
Tips For Using Homemade Upholstery Cleaners
These recommended homemade upholstery cleaning solutions are all worth a try. These solutions use common ingredients such as baking soda and vinegar – agents with proven cleaning capabilities.
To further enhance its effectiveness and have better results, here are a few tips for your DIY solutions.
Less Is More
Try to use as little solution as possible even if you know that it is safe for the people in your household. Remember that it is easier to add or spray more of your homemade upholstery cleaner than removing the excess solution you used.
Too much cleaning solution can do more damage to your fabrics. Always start with a small amount and gradually add more only when needed.
Focus On The Upholstered Area
Sure, you are cleaning your chair seat, but that doesn’t mean that the other materials used around it, like wood, also need cleaning. Make your life less complicated by just focusing on the task at hand. You can clean the areas that are not upholstered with paper or a towel.
Prepare A Variety Of Cleaning Tools
You never know what the best buddy for your homemade upholstery cleaner is. So be ready with a cotton rag, soft-bristled brush, sponge, and a microfiber towel. It will come in very handy when you need the most effective upholstery cleaners for cleaning.
Any of these can boost your solution’s cleaning power, so give every cleaning tool a chance. Note that regardless of which cleaning tool you use, scrubbing too hard will create more problems.
Social media and advertisements can be deceiving where a single spray makes stains disappear in less than one minute. Homemade cleaning solutions are not magic.
You need to give some time for its cleaning powers to come into effect. Let it sit on your upholstery for 3 minutes or more. Don’t be discouraged if you need to repeat the entire process several times.
Vacuuming Is Imperative
Removing all the dirt, dust, and other solid things on your upholstery can contribute to your homemade upholstery cleaner’s success. Before using your cleaning solution, the first thing you do is to vacuum. And after our cleaning process, once your upholstery is dry, complete your cleaning routine by vacuuming again.
Are Homemade Upholstery Cleaners Effective?
There is no guarantee that your DIY cleaning solution can 100% take out the stains on your upholstery with just a single application.
Yes, these homemade solutions can be effective but remember that different factors will influence their efficiency.
You can’t expect an easy cleaning process if that stain you’re eyeing out has been there on your couch for the last three months. Let alone for an entire year.
Expectation Vs. Reality
Although these homemade upholstery cleaners are generally effective and cost-efficient, you have to understand that based on the intensity of the stain and the length of time for which it has made its mark, getting the spots out might still be difficult.
Once you see a stain that needs to be cleaned, do it promptly. The quicker you take action, the easier the cleaning gets. This would mean that your cleaning solution would have a higher probability of taking out those spots.
So the next time that you have any stain on your upholstery, try to make any of this homemade upholstery cleaner and share this clever hack if it gives you a positive result!