How To Care For Upholstery?

Upholstered sofas and armchairs are likely to be some of the most expensive items we have in the home, and on that account we expect them to last a long time. They are subject to an amazing amount of wear and tear and, from a housekeeping point of view, are difficult to keep clean because the upholstery is generally fixed: if you spill a cup of coffee on an armchair, you can’t put it in the washing machine.

Turn cushions on sofas and armchairs regularly to ensure even wear. Upholstery fabrics, though tough, are subject to fading by sunlight, as in any other fabric.

Try to avoid placing chairs and sofas in such a way that shafts of sunlight will hit one particular spot. Certain colors, such as yellow, are more vulnerable to fading than others.


Consider having loose covers made for any chairs and sofas that are subject to particularly heavy wear. In sunlight, the covers will fade instead of the furniture. It is cheaper to replace the covers than to have the sofa reupholstered. In fact, loose covers are almost compulsory if you have lots of children and animals in the house, or if you favor very pale fabrics.

The disadvantage of loose covers is that they can look cheap unless properly made by an upholsterer – in which case, they can cost as much as a new sofa – but that is made up for by the convenience of just being able to whip them off and wash them or have them cleaned.

In general, try to keep pets off chairs and sofas. If you cannot, one way to remove pet hairs on furniture is to wrap parcel tape round your hand, sticky side out, and run it over the cushions. Another way is put on a rubber glove, dip it in water and run your hand over the chairs or sofa. Do not let the furniture get too wet.


Vacuum sofas and armchairs thoroughly once a week. Remove cushions and vacuum in all the cracks and crevices, using the crevice tool. Then vacuum all surfaces, using the upholstery tool. Do not press too hard, but run the cleaner head lightly over the surface.

Because of its size and construction, cleaning upholstery is awkward, so it is better to prevent it getting dirty in the first place. When buying new upholstery fabrics, look for fabrics that have been pre-treated with dirt-repellent coatings. You will still have to mop up spills quickly, but there is less chance of permanent staining.

It is also possible to have existing upholstery treated. Doing it yourself is a tedious business and results can be patchy, so it is better to spend the money and get it done professionally.

Have upholstered furniture cleaned once a year. It is possible to hire machines for cleaning upholstery, but as with carpets, the professionals do a better job. Their machines are stronger and they have specialist cleaning materials.


Leather furniture is extremely hard-wearing and easy to care for, and should last for a lifetime. Over time, it acquires a pleasing patina of age. Position leather furniture away from direct sources of heat, such as radiators, which can cause the leather to crack, and keep it out of direct sunlight. The sun can fade leather and cause it to deteriorate. Do not allow leather to get wet.

New leather furniture should be supplied with care instructions. In general, all that is required is a good dusting once a week. With caution, you can wipe off grime with a damp cloth, wrung out until nearly dry, but do not allow the leather to get wet and do not sit on leather furniture when it is damp. Do not use furniture polish, which contains solvents that can damage leather.

Tags: home improvement, household, how to clean

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.