Cleaning Upholsterery

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Cleaning Leather Furniture

June 2011

We have two light colored leather recliner chairs which have gotten quite dirty - I guess we recline a lot! I have bought a leather cleaner at an auto parts store which did absolutely nothing. Does anyone have any suggestions? Or is there a service that does this?

I recently cleaned and refurbished my leather sofa using some stuff I found online by googling 'leather refinish.' I just took a chance on it because I had a really ratty looking sofa and didn't want to go to much trouble to fix it. My sofa now looks absolutely fantastic and I highly recommend this stuff. The sofa was not so much dirty as just worn out from 10 years of kids and pets abusing it. It now looks brand new, really quite an amazing transformation with not that much effort. You just squirt it on and rub it in with a cloth. It's called Leather Magic I bought the 'leather care kit' but actually I only used the 'leather conditioner' which is tinted for your color of leather (and they will customize the color if you send them a sample.) It's 20 bucks for a sofa's worth and you'll have some left over. It is really a great product - highly recommended. Ginger

Where can I get auto's upholstery cleaned?

May 2011

I bought a used Toyota Corolla several months ago. It turned out to have a rather bad smell of body odor, which I hadn't noticed at the time. It's overwhelming when the car interior warms up. So now it smells like b.o. plus some awful air freshener. I would like to have the car's upholstery shampooed, in hope that a good cleaning will help. So my question is, where can I get a good, thorough auto upholstery shampoo? I am not interested in a fancy auto detailing package, just a good upholstery cleaning. Other ideas for odor elimination are welcome too. Thank You! Linda

baking soda and fresh coffee grounds are my two go-to things for odor. try dusting the inside of your car with baking soda and leave it for a few hours then vacuum thoroughly. then sprinkle fresh coffee grounds around and drive around with that for a day or two, then vacuum again. good luck. b.o.'s bad enough when it belongs to someone you know... anon

I just bought a car that I didn't realize belonged to a smoker. I looked for someone to shampoo it and couldn't really find anyone; those who did charged about $150 and still didn't guarantee it or couldn't do it without heavy perfume. I opened up the car all day with several open containers of vinegar and baking soda around the car with wet towels, closed at night, turning the towels once per day to keep them wet. That helped the most. Then I took out all the rugs and such to air. I bought a spray foam upholstery cleaner, but the top broke off and it didn't work that well. If you have access to an outlet, you could rent a rug shampoo machine with attachments. I scrubbed all the vinyl parts with a spray whose name I don't recall atm (black spray bottle) - that was the most work; cleaned all the windows and will change the cabin air filters this weekend ($22, came the next day compared to $35 at the dealer). Then I sprayed all the upholstery and rugs with Maguire's odor eliminator that I got at Kragen, which has some perfume, but doesn't stay very strong. That helped the most. If there's an unscented Febreeze, that would be fine too, but more expensive. I can still smell it faintly, but it's much better and I haven't done the filter yet. If I'd had more elbow grease to shampoo, it would be all fine now. Dana

2007 - 2009 Recommendations

Cleaning a dirty ultrasuede sofa

March 2007

Can anyone recommend a way to clean our increasingly dirty rust-colored ultrasuede sofa? It's almost four years old and while I've been able to easily spot-clean with water and Dawn, the seat cushions are getting kind of nasty and I would love to either have a service come to our place or buy some sort of cleaner myself that can take care of cleaning the entire sofa without staining it, discoloring etc. The seat covers do come off, so if it's possible to dryclean I could try that (any drycleaners who do ultrasuede reliably?). But the arms and back could really do with a clean as well. And turning the cushions over would just be deferring dealing with the grime (although it's tempting...) Thanks for any suggestions! Grimy no more

People that clean carpets do upholstered furniture too. I recommend Bob's Khem clean, they don't use all the chemicals that the big ones do. My ultrasuede couch comes out looking new. Uses them regularly

We were told to use rubbing alcohol when we bought ours. Our couches look new. We have cleaned anything and everything off of them. I suggest you grab some rags and test clean a section out of site using generous amounts of straight alcohol. See what happens? Bekki

2004 - 2006 Recommendations

Dec 2006

I just had Mark from SunClean (BPN recommendation) come and clean my couch, carpets and area rugs. I highly recommend him-- he's prompt, works hard, does a great job, and delievered on every promise. Add to that you you are using only safe, environment and kid (and adult) friendly cleaners, as well as supporting an independent family business--and what have you got to lose?! Call Mark 510.263.0321 it's easy being green

Getting ballpoint ink off beige microsuede couch

Sept 2006

On a recent visit, my 2 1/2 year-old nephew put his autograph with black ballpoint ink on my beige microsuede couch. I didn't treat the ballpoint inkmarks with my regular stain-remover (for laundry) because I was afraid it would just make it worse. What works best (prefer to hear from people that have tried the remedy themselves)? Thanks in advance Marinela

Hairspray. It even worked on an ink stain on clothes that had been washed many times. (I'd test first on a hidden spot on your couch, just in case, but think it'll be fine) Amazed by hairspray for inkstains

I recently had my beige microfiber sofa professionally cleaned and wow! Brand new again! My son wrote on the sofa with a Sharpie. I had actually forgotten about that until we had the sofa cleaned and I noticed the ink was gone. Microfiber seems to really show grease stains - grubby little hands, spilled milk - but after having it professionally steam cleaned, it looked brand new again. Good luck

My sister told me about using hair spray to dissolve pen ink in fabric. If the Hair spray leave some lacquer residue a watered down solution of Rubbing alcohol should dissolve the lacquer from the Hairspray after the hairspray has gotten rid of the ink. You should try this on small patch of the couch suede out of sight first to make sure that this will not discolor or leave residue. Try both the hair spray and the rubbing alcohol in a hidden spot first hair spray solution

Feb 2006

I just thought I'd write saying that I do not recommend Stanley Steemers for upholstery cleaning. I saw a few positive messages on BPN so I called them, but they didn't do a good cleaning job, they whipped through it in 20 minutes, and then they dumped the waste water on my plants in the front yard without asking me! I said, wait a minute, what about the chemicals? And they claimed they didn't use chemicals, even though I saw them spraying stuff all over the furniture. I decided not to have them come back to clean better because I really didn't feel like dealing with them again. Yuck

Cleaning smelly cushions on glider chair

August 2005

Someone recently gave me a very nice glider chair that's been used by two separate families. It's clean and in good condition, but the cushions smell *terrible*, sort of a combination of baby powder and the residue of body fluids! Airing them out has not helped; in fact, moisture in the air seems to make the smell more intense! Any other suggestions? (The cushions are foam covered in a polyester fabric, and the label says ''do not dry clean''.) Thanks a million!

Try putting them outside in the full, hot sun for as many days as it takes. When I lived in Mexico this is how everything was disinfected. It works with shoes, bedding, etc., pillows, so I'm pretty sure it will work for cushions. I don't know if it will fade badly enough to have to be covered again, but it's worth a try if you can't stand the smell. Good luck. anita

If a cold water wash and drying in sunlight doesn't work, (I know it says dryclean only, but what have you got to lose?) buy some foam and quilters batting at a fabric store. Use a serrated bread knife to cut the foam to size, wrap it with batting, make a muslin cover to hold it all together while the outer cover is in the wash, and that's that!

I got a couch once that smelled ''old''. I washed the polyester cushions in a set-tub I had (or bathtub), with strong non-toxic soap that I liked the smell of, then dried them outside for a couple of sunny days. This was quite an undertaking but it worked. Of course you risk the chance that despite the effort your unique smell might still be there. (I also got new upholstery for the whole thing.) Also you could buy new custom cut foam or latex, though these are more expensive options. I'm actually interested in hearing what others did too. Good Luck. anon

Want to get couches cleaned

Sept 2004

Hi - we need to get our couches cleaned and were wondering if anyone knew of a great cleaner who will come to the house. Thanks, aut

Check out Appleby Cleaning at They're located in San Leandro but work throughout the area--I've had them clean our rugs in Oakland and now in Lafayette. They've been around for years, and have long- term employees. A professional, high quality operation. I haven't had them clean any upholstery but my in laws have had their rugs and sofas done by Appleby for *years* and have always been pleased with their work. They're not the cheapest but they're great! Christina

2003 & Earlier

Need to get upholstered furniture cleaned

Nov 2002

Two years of toddler abuse has left our furniture in pretty bad shape (wish I had thought of slipcovers at the outset!). It's too far gone for spot cleaning. I'm wondering whether professional cleaning might be the solution or if I should just bite the bullet and re-cover/replace/slipcover the furniture. If anyone has experience with professional upholstery cleaners I'd appreciate some advice/recommendations. Also, I suspect that a home/rental steam cleaner wouldn't be great at this, but if anyone has tried that approach, I'd like to hear how well it worked. Thanks. Kathy

I would like to recommend Stanley Steemer in San Leandro (tel. 510 614-6833) for cleaning of upholstery and carpets. We have a toddler who trails his meals all over the house and have had them come to our house and steam clean the carpets and upholstery for two years now. They are always prompt and very professional, and we have had excellent results with the cleaning. We also had them do a protective coating on carpets and furniture that allows stains to just be cleaned with water and lasted for about a year (though only promised for 6 months) on our light colored carpet. I was about to reupholster two badly dirtied chairs as well, but they cleaned up very well, except where nap of fabric was physically worn (arm ends). It is way cheaper to clean than to reupholster, so I'd try cleaning before committing to redo upholstered furniture. The cleaners were very honest with me when they came about whether or not the damage could be cleaned, and the results exceeded my expectations. Cheryl