Upholstery Stain Removal

Spills, Spots, & Upholstery Stains

You’ve just spilled a glass of wine on your living room sofa—what do you do now? It’s important to act promptly but not to panic. Follow these upholstery cleaning guidelines to control a spill and prevent a stain.

Act quickly before a spill spreads or dries.

  • Upholstery cleaning for liquid spills:
    Blot lightly with a dry white paper towel to start. Increase pressure and use a fresh paper towel until no more liquid is absorbed. DO NOT RUB! If residue remains, see the stain removal guide below.
  • Upholstery cleaning for solid or semi-solid spills (such as foods):
    Gently lift the substance from the upholstery with a spoon or dull knife, scraping carefully toward the center of the spill. Treat any wet residue as a liquid spill. If residue remains, see the stain removal guide below.
  • Upholstery cleaning for dry spills (such as ashes or dry cosmetics):
    Adding any liquid to a normally dry substance, such as ashes, may cause a permanent stain. Vacuum, beat the area with a ruler or similar implement, vacuum again, then use the adhesive side of masking tape to remove any residue. If residue remains, see the stain removal guide below.

Stain Removal Guide

 Check the manufacturer’s label for any cleaning instructions and/or fabric cleaning code.

The following are the standard fabric cleaning codes used by furniture manufacturers. Use these codes to determine what types of cleaning methods are appropriate for your fabric:

  • W – Use water-based cleaning agent. We recommend using 1/4 white vinegar to 3/4 water as a water-based cleaning agent. It is a natural cleaner that doesn’t leave a residue.
  • S – Use mild (water-free) cleaning solvent
  • WS – Use water-based cleaning agent, or use mild (water-free) cleaning solvent
  • X – Clean ONLY by vacuuming or light brushing

Steps for the stain removal process:

  1. Always test water or a cleaning agent by applying to the same upholstery fabric on a hidden area of the upholstered piece.
  2. Allow the test area to dry completely, then check its effect on the fabric. Apply water or a cleaning agent (as recommended in the stain removal guide) in small doses to avoid spreading the stain or causing a ring. Be patient; apply several times, blotting firmly with a dry paper towel to soak up the liquid after each application.
  3. Never rub a fabric; rubbing could result in damage to the nap, loss of color, or spreading of the stain.
  4. Restore the nap on velvet by brushing gently before it dries.
  5. To avoid water spotting, use a fan or cool blow dryer (on a cool setting) to accelerate drying. Dry from the outer edge of the affected area toward the center.
  6. If the stain persists, seek professional upholstery cleaning assistance.