How To Wash Upholstery Fabric: A Complete Guide

Upholstery fabric provides comfort, style, and durability to furniture pieces in homes and businesses. Over time, upholstery fabric becomes dirty and stained from regular use. Keeping it clean not only improves its appearance but also extends its lifespan.

If you’re wondering can you wash upholstery fabric, the answer is yes, but the cleaning method depends on the fabric type.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide detailed instructions on how to clean various upholstery fabrics. We’ll cover how to check fabric tags, which cleaning methods like vacuuming, spot cleaning, and full washing work best for different fabrics, what supplies you’ll need, and step-by-step instructions to wash upholstery safely and effectively.

Check the Fabric Tag

Before you start washing your upholstery fabric, it is important to check the fabric tag for specific care instructions. The fabric tag is typically found on the underside of the furniture or cushion and provides valuable information about the fabric’s composition and recommended cleaning methods.

By following the instructions on the fabric tag, you can ensure that you are properly caring for your upholstery and avoiding any potential damage.

Fiber Content

The fabric tag will often specify the fiber content of the upholstery fabric. This information is crucial as different types of fibers require different cleaning methods. For example, fabrics made of natural fibers like cotton or linen may be more delicate and require gentler cleaning techniques, while synthetic fibers like polyester or nylon may be more durable and can withstand more rigorous cleaning.

Cleaning Codes

Another important aspect to look for on the fabric tag is the cleaning codes. These codes provide guidelines on how to clean the upholstery fabric. There are typically four cleaning codes that you may encounter:

  • W: Indicates that the fabric can be cleaned with water-based solutions. This means you can use water and mild detergent to clean the upholstery.
  • S: Indicates that the fabric should be cleaned with solvent-based cleaners. Water-based solutions may damage the fabric, so it’s important to use a specialized solvent cleaner.
  • WS: Indicates that the fabric can be cleaned with either water-based or solvent-based cleaners. This gives you the flexibility to choose the cleaning method that works best for you.
  • X: Indicates that the fabric should only be vacuumed or brushed. It cannot be cleaned with any type of liquid solution.

It’s important to note that these cleaning codes are general guidelines, and it’s always a good idea to test any cleaning solution on a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric before applying it to the entire piece. This will help you avoid any potential damage or discoloration.

For more detailed information on specific cleaning methods and products that are safe to use on your upholstery fabric, you can consult reputable sources such as The Spruce or Cleanipedia.

Vacuum the Upholstery

Before you begin the process of washing your upholstery fabric, it is important to start by thoroughly vacuuming it. This step will help remove any loose dirt, dust, and debris that may be trapped in the fabric.

It is recommended to use a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment to prevent any damage to the fabric. Make sure to vacuum all the nooks and crannies, including the crevices between cushions and along the edges of the furniture.

Vacuuming not only helps in removing surface dirt, but it also helps in preparing the fabric for the washing process. By removing loose particles, you can ensure that the cleaning solution penetrates deeper into the fabric, resulting in a more effective and thorough cleaning.

It is worth noting that regular vacuuming of upholstery fabric can help prolong its lifespan and maintain its overall appearance. Dirt and dust particles can act as abrasives, causing the fabric to wear out faster.

By vacuuming regularly, you can prevent the accumulation of dirt and keep your upholstery looking great for years to come.

If you’re not sure how often you should be vacuuming your upholstery, it is generally recommended to do so at least once a week. However, if you have pets or allergies, you may need to vacuum more frequently to keep the fabric clean and free from allergens.

For more detailed information on the importance of vacuuming upholstery fabric and the best techniques to use, you can visit They provide a comprehensive guide on how to properly clean and maintain different types of upholstery fabrics.

Spot Clean Stains

Supplies Needed

Before you begin spot cleaning stains on your upholstery fabric, gather the following supplies:

  • A clean white cloth or sponge
  • Mild dish soap or upholstery cleaner
  • Water
  • A small bowl

Steps for Spot Cleaning

Follow these steps to effectively spot clean stains on your upholstery fabric:

  1. Identify the stain: Take a close look at the stain and determine its nature. This will help you choose the right cleaning solution.
  2. Blot the stain: Using a clean white cloth or sponge, gently blot the stain to remove any excess liquid or debris. Avoid rubbing the stain, as this can push it deeper into the fabric.
  3. Mix a cleaning solution: In a small bowl, combine a few drops of mild dish soap or upholstery cleaner with water. Stir the mixture gently to create suds.
  4. Test the solution: Before applying the cleaning solution to the entire stain, test it on a hidden area of the upholstery fabric to ensure it does not cause any discoloration or damage.
  5. Apply the solution: Dip the cloth or sponge into the cleaning solution and gently dab it onto the stain. Work from the outside of the stain towards the center to prevent spreading.
  6. Blot the stain: After applying the cleaning solution, continue to blot the stain gently until the stain starts to lift. Avoid scrubbing, as this can damage the fabric.
  7. Rinse the area: Using a clean cloth or sponge, rinse the area with water to remove any soap residue. Make sure to squeeze out excess water from the cloth or sponge before rinsing.
  8. Dry the fabric: Allow the upholstery fabric to air dry completely before using or sitting on it. Avoid using a hairdryer or applying heat directly to the fabric, as this can cause shrinkage or damage.

Remember, different types of upholstery fabrics may require specific cleaning methods or professional assistance. If you are unsure about how to clean a particular fabric or if the stain persists, it is always best to consult a professional upholstery cleaner.

For more information on upholstery cleaning, you can visit Cleanipedia or The Spruce.

Fully Wash Removable Upholstery Covers

When to Wash

Knowing when to wash your removable upholstery covers is important to maintain cleanliness and prolong their lifespan. It is recommended to wash them at least once every six to twelve months, depending on the level of usage and the amount of dirt or stains accumulated.

However, if you have pets or young children, it might be necessary to wash them more frequently.

Washing Machine Settings

When it comes to washing removable upholstery covers, it is essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific fabric type. Most covers can be safely washed in a washing machine on a gentle or delicate cycle. Use cold water and a mild detergent to avoid damaging the fabric.

It is also recommended to turn the covers inside out before placing them in the machine to protect the outer surface.

Pro tip: If you are unsure about the appropriate settings, always err on the side of caution and choose a gentler cycle to prevent any potential damage.

Drying and Replacement

After washing, it is crucial to dry the removable upholstery covers properly to prevent mold or mildew growth. Air drying is the safest option, as high heat from a dryer can shrink or damage the fabric.

Hang the covers outside or indoors in a well-ventilated area, and make sure they are completely dry before putting them back on your furniture.

If your upholstery covers are worn out or heavily stained beyond repair, it might be time to consider replacing them. Many furniture stores or upholstery specialists offer a wide range of replacement covers, allowing you to give your furniture a fresh look without investing in a brand new piece.

Remember, taking care of your removable upholstery covers will not only keep them looking great but also extend their lifespan. By following these washing guidelines, you can maintain the cleanliness and durability of your upholstery fabric for years to come.

Professionally Clean Upholstery Fabrics

While it is possible to clean upholstery fabrics yourself, sometimes it is best to leave the task to the professionals. Professional upholstery cleaning services offer a range of benefits that can help ensure your upholstery fabrics are cleaned effectively and safely.

Whether you have a stubborn stain or simply want to refresh the look of your furniture, professional cleaning is a great option to consider.

In-home Service

One option for professional upholstery cleaning is an in-home service. With this option, a trained technician will come to your home and clean your upholstery fabrics on-site. This is a convenient choice for those who prefer to have the cleaning done in the comfort of their own home.

The technician will bring all the necessary equipment and cleaning solutions needed to tackle even the toughest stains. They will also have the expertise to determine the best cleaning method for your specific type of fabric.

This ensures that your upholstery is cleaned thoroughly and that no damage is done during the process.

During the in-home service, the technician will carefully inspect the upholstery fabrics to identify any problem areas or stains that may require special attention. They will then pre-treat these areas to ensure the best possible results.

After pre-treatment, the technician will use professional-grade equipment to deep clean the fabric, removing dirt, allergens, and odors. This thorough cleaning process will leave your upholstery looking and smelling fresh.

Drop-off Service

Another option for professional upholstery cleaning is a drop-off service. With this option, you take your upholstery fabrics to a designated cleaning facility where they will be cleaned and returned to you at a later time.

While this may require a bit more effort on your part, it can be a cost-effective solution, especially if you have multiple pieces of furniture that need cleaning.

When you drop off your upholstery fabrics, the cleaning professionals will carefully inspect them to determine the best cleaning method. They will then use specialized equipment and cleaning solutions to effectively remove stains, dirt, and allergens.

Once the cleaning process is complete, your upholstery will be thoroughly dried and returned to you in pristine condition.

Choosing a drop-off service allows you to have greater control over the timing of the cleaning process. You can drop off your upholstery fabrics when it is convenient for you and pick them up at a later time. This flexibility can be especially beneficial for individuals with busy schedules.


With some care and effort, you can keep your upholstery looking fresh by regularly cleaning it. Always start by identifying the fabric type from the tag and use an appropriate gentle cleaning method. For heavy-duty cleaning, professional upholstery cleaning services are available.

Follow these best practices to extend the life of your upholstery while keeping it looking its best.

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