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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

DIY: Make Your Own Homemade Upholstery Cleaner

12/16/2020 (Permalink)

homemade upholstery cleaner Have stubborn stains on your furniture? Contact SERVPRO in Richardson for professional upholstery cleaning.

Fabric-covered furniture is never going out of style. Even the most modern interior design includes upholstered seating and other cloth-clad furnishings. Upholstery offers color and comfort to any living space.

When upholstery is permanently affixed to the furniture, you can’t just strip the fabric from it and put it in the washing machine. So to keep the fabric looking clean and smelling fresh, we clean textiles still attached to the furniture by using an upholstery cleaner.

Over time, the fabric will capture grime and the occasional spill. Oil and moisture make contact with the cloth surface and mix with dirt and other particles to make the fabric look dingy.

Pet owners, parents of young children, and owners of light-colored furniture are likely to seek out upholstery cleaning solutions to remove stains, smells, and dinginess. 

SERVPRO of Richardson stays up to date on the best methods of restoration. So today we share homemade upholstery cleaner tips to bring furniture back to its original beauty and hygiene.

What is the Best Way to Clean a Fabric Sofa? 

The best way to clean a fabric sofa is to use the methods appropriate for the particular material and to use products that won’t damage or discolor the fabric. The goal is for the DIY furniture cleaning process to be strong enough to resolve stubborn stains and grime, but be gentle enough to retain the original quality.

Step 1: Read the Couch Label for Washing Codes

As with clothing, fabric couches come with labels. This lets you know which upholstery cleaning method is most appropriate for the material.

On the tag or manufacturer’s directions, you may see letters that tell you what method of cleaning is appropriate.

W: Water-based cleaning is okay (and is generally compatible with a homemade upholstery cleaner)

S: Do not use water-based products. Other kinds of solvents (dry-cleaning) should be used instead.

D: Dry clean only.

WS: Water-based or solvent-based cleaning is okay, but avoid products with carbon tetrachloride or other toxic substances.

O: Material is made from organic materials, and to maintain its natural fibers, the cloth should be cleaned with eco-friendly products. A water-based natural upholstery cleaner is okay.

X: Fabric is delicate and should only be cleaned with soft brushing or vacuuming.

So before using a homemade upholstery cleaner, you’ll want to be sure that it won’t alter or ruin the fabric. These labels let you know what upholstery cleaner methods are safe to use on the material.

Step 2: Begin With a Vacuum

Before you apply any cleaners (including a homemade upholstery cleaner), it helps to remove any loose particles like dirt and hair. Hair that is the same color as the fabric may be camouflaged, and vacuuming gets hairs out of the way before you start cleaning. 

Vacuuming also loosens up some of the grime and makes it easier to remove. This will make cleaning more efficient, as loose particles mixing with wet cleaners would penetrate the fibers and adds work for you.

When you vacuum, use the upholstery attachment and gently brush over the entire surface of the sofa.

Step 3: Make Your Own Upholstery Cleaner

You don’t need to go out and buy a brand name cleaner when you already have the ingredients for a homemade upholstery cleaner on hand to make your own.

Ordinary household staples come together to be an effective solution to work out dark stains, pet stains, odors, spills, etc. The following are just a few of the many different homemade clear recipes concocted by domestic engineers. 

Method #1: Grime Remover

This homemade upholstery cleaner is ideal for grimy surfaces as it goes to work to dissolve built-up gunk.

It includes baking soda as a mildly abrasive agent that breaks down acidic soiling and odors. Cornstarch works with the baking soda in this upholstery cleaner recipe to extract moisture, oils, and smells.


  • 1/2 cup baking soda 
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • A little bit of water


  • A vacuum cleaner


Blend the baking soda and cornstarch together and add water gradually until you form a paste. Apply to the fabric and allow it to dry for about half an hour. Once the paste has dried completely, remove the paste layer with the vacuum. Repeat the process as necessary.

Method #2: Stain Remover for Natural Fabrics

This homemade upholstery cleaner is well-suited for organic and natural fabrics. It helps the piece maintain its eco-friendly character.

This solution includes additive-free (“free and clear” laundry detergent), vinegar, and baking soda. This homemade upholstery mixture forms a powerful paste that works out stubborn stains. The non-toxic ingredients retain the integrity of the organic material.


  • 2 tablespoons of free and clear laundry detergent (example: Seventh Generation)
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 2 cups warm water


  • Microfiber cloth
  • Bucket

For a supplementary extra-strength upholstery stain remover, make a separate paste of just baking soda and water for spot cleaning the tougher stains.


In a bucket or large bowl, create your DIY upholstery cleaner by mixing the water, detergent, baking soda, and white vinegar together.

Dip the microfiber cloth into the mixture and wring out the excess. Using a circular motion, gently scrub the cloth along the surface of the fabric. Avoid oversaturating the furniture.

Allow the fabric to air dry and repeat the process as needed (or use the supplementary paste for remaining stains).

Method #3: Removing Pet Odors 

This is the pet owner’s homemade upholstery cleaner. A simple mixture of vinegar and water fights pungent odors left behind by your little darlings.


  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 ½ tablespoons vinegar
  • Optional: fragrant essential oil.
  • Optional: baking soda (used separately from the mixture).


  • Microfiber cloth or spray bottle (for application).
  • Additional dry cloth (for extraction).
  • Vacuum (for baking soda treatment).

For extra deodorizing power, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the mixture. For accompanying stains, add some hydrogen peroxide to the mixture. Warning: applying undiluted hydrogen peroxide directly to the stain may cause discoloration from its bleaching effect.


Mix the water and vinegar together (add about a ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide for a stain and a few drops of essential oil for fragrance). 

You can use a spray bottle or a cloth to apply the cleaner to the fabric, but be careful not to soak the material. Oversaturation of the material would allow the urine to penetrate deeper into the underlayer and make it worse.

Use the dry cloth to dab and lift away the soiling and stains. For additional pet urine treatment, sprinkle the affected area with baking soda. The baking soda works to neutralize acidic urine residue. Let the baking soda sit for a while, then vacuum it away.

Homemade Upholstery Cleaner Tips

Before you round up the ingredients and tools to apply your homemade upholstery cleaner, we have some bonus tips to share.

  • Vacuum: Vacuuming is highly effective to lift and purge waste particles from the furniture. Start and end with vacuuming (or throughout the cleaning process when appropriate). Shop vacs are ideal if you wish to vacuum while using a wet solution.
  • Spot test: Test the cleaner on a spot that is hidden (such as the underside of the couch cushion). This will determine if the cleaner is safe to use on the rest of the sofa (especially when the mixture includes hydrogen peroxide). Better to discolor only a small part you can hide than to accidentally bleach-stain the entire sofa.
  • Moderation: Gradually apply the cleaner. Applying much homemade cleaner creates a whole new problem.
  • Tool variety: Try different kinds of cloths, brushes, or other cleaning tools to lift the stains with your homemade upholstery cleaner.
  • Let it sit: Get the most from the cleaning agents in your homemade upholstery cleaner by letting it rest on the surface (about 5-10 minutes) before you start scrubbing or dabbing at it.

Professional Cleaning Services in Richardson, TX

New furniture is expensive. It’s a bummer to see a sofa you spent a lot of money on begin to look like a curbside throw-away. With knowledge about what your furniture is made of and some common household items, you can make your own potent homemade upholstery cleaner to give your sofas and chairs new life! 

If you don’t get the dazzling results you were hoping for, SERVPRO is available to come out and do your Richardson upholstery cleaning. Sometimes upholstery needs a professional touch, especially when a mold starts to grow on it. Our expert technicians will make it like the stains never even happened.

SERVPRO is also here for Richardson commercial cleaning. If your office, lobby, or restaurant needs a refresh, we’ll come out and make the upholstery like new! Call us anytime at (972) 690-1414 for free pricing!

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