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Removing stain from furniture

Your Furniture Stain Removal Guide

February 25, 2021

Noticed a dirty mark on your favorite piece of furniture? Never fear. This furniture stain removal guide will help you take the correct course of action when you spot a stain, no matter what type of fabric you have in your home. Let’s get started!

What to Do Before Removing Stains from Furniture

When you see a stain on your furniture, it’s easy to panic and attack the area with every stain removal product you can find. Avoid scrubbing stains at all costs, as this can cause stubborn spills, such as red wine and ink, to spread. You should also hold off from using any stain removal products until you’ve checked the fabric tags or manufacturer’s cleaning instructions.

These are the cleaning codes and what they mean:

  • X: Vacuum or light brushing only. Must be professionally cleaned.
  • S: Dry cleaner detergent only. Do not saturate. Do not overwet.
  • WS: Use mild detergent with a steam vacuum or a dry-cleaning detergent. Do not saturate with liquid.
  • W: Clean only with water-based shampoo or foam upholstery cleaner. Do not overwet.

Woman checking stain removal product

Stain Removal Guide for Each Type of Upholstery

Once you know what you can and cannot use to remove the stains from your furniture, try the following tips to help you clean the specific fabric of your furniture.

Microfiber

Microfiber is known for being durable. Of course, that doesn’t mean you won’t end up with some stains on your favorite pieces over the years. This type of upholstery is relatively easy to clean but microfiber blends vary, so double-check the fabric tag to ensure the correct cleaning approach. Generally speaking, the most effective way to remove stains from your microfiber furniture is with a few items you probably have around your home.

Stain Removal Products You’ll Need:

  • Clean cloth
  • Spray bottle
  • Light-colored sponge
  • Distilled water
  • Dry brush

Stain Removal Techniques:

  1. Use a clean cloth to blot the area and lift out any loose dirt.
  2. Spray the stain with distilled water and scrub with a light-colored sponge until dry.
  3. Brush the area in a circular motion with a dry brush to re-fluff the microfibers in that spot.

Using vacuum cleaner to clean couch

Synthetic Fiber

Synthetic upholstery includes polyester, olefin, acetate, acrylic, and nylon. These materials are often used to imitate the qualities of natural fibers for a more cost-effective piece of furniture. Given the variety of synthetic fibers, you should always check the fabric tag and care labels on your furniture. Your cleaning method should be safe and simple.

Stain Removal Products You’ll Need:

  • Vacuum cleaner upholstery attachment
  • Dry brush
  • Clean cloth
  • Warm water
  • Mild detergent

Stain Removal Techniques:

  1. Use a vacuum cleaner upholstery attachment to remove debris from the area.
  2. Brush the stain with a dry brush to remove more stubborn debris.
  3. Add mild detergent to warm water and spot test the solution on an unseen part of the furniture.
  4. If the detergent does not damage the material, use it to wet a clean cloth and dab the stain.

Cotton and Linen

Cotton and linen are both natural fabrics that you may be able to treat in the same way. Check the cleaning instructions, especially for linen furniture covers, as they may require professional cleaning or even be machine-washable. If there are no specific instructions, try this suggestion for removing stains from your cotton or linen furniture.

Stain Removal Products You’ll Need:

  • Vacuum cleaner upholstery attachment
  • Mild detergent
  • Soft cloth

Stain Removal Techniques:

  1. Use a vacuum cleaner upholstery attachment to remove dust and debris.
  2. Add a small amount of mild detergent to warm water and spot test on your furniture.
  3. If the solution doesn’t damage the fabric, wet a soft cloth and dab the stain.

Stain removal technique for leather couch

Leather and Vinyl

The fact that leather and vinyl are stylish and easy to clean makes these upholsteries even more popular. Whether your furniture is genuine leather or a fabulous faux, the key to removing stains from this kind of furniture is to keep it natural. Harsh chemical products that aren’t specially designed for these fabrics can leave the material stiff, dry, and less comfortable. 

Stain Removal Products You’ll Need:

  • Warm water
  • Non-detergent soap
  • 3 clean cloths

Stain Removal Techniques:

  1. Add 2 tablespoons of non-detergent soap per 1 gallon of warm water.
  2. Wet a cloth with this solution and wipe the stained area.
  3. Wet a second cloth with water only and re-wipe the area.
  4. Use a dry, clean cloth to remove any residue from the furniture.

Wool

Wool is waterproof and long-lasting, but that doesn’t make it stain-resistant. You may be able to remove stains from your furniture by taking off the covers, turning them inside out, and throwing them in the washing machine—but only if this is specified in the cleaning instructions. If this isn’t an option, try these tips.

Stain Removal Products You’ll Need:

  • Vacuum cleaner upholstery attachment
  • Water-based detergent for wool
  • 2 clean cloths

Stain Removal Techniques:

  1. Use the vacuum cleaner upholstery attachment to remove debris from within the fabric.
  2. Add the detergent to warm water and wet a cloth with the solution.
  3. Dab the stain with the damp cloth. Avoid scrubbing.
  4. Wet the second cloth with water only and dab the area to remove the cleaning residue.

Family relaxing on couch

How to Keep Your Furniture Stain-Free

Do you have young children, pets, or a love of entertaining

If you answered yes to any or all parts of the question, then your upholstery may be at a greater risk of stains. While we’ve offered plenty of tips on how to remove stains from furniture, you can also take measures to stop paint, muddy feet, or food spills from wreaking havoc on your furnishings. Of course you should always check with your retailer for more warranty and cleaning details before using any stain-resistant solutions.

For complete peace of mind, you need furniture fabrics that have been designed to resist stains, right from the start. Southern Motion’s Smart Solutions fabrics provide long-lasting protection without sacrificing style or comfort. These strong and stain-resistant fabrics are available for all motion groups and recliners, so you can relax in your living room for many years to come. Take a look at the Southern Motion collections to find the right furniture for your lifestyle.

Find a Retailer

Independent retailers display differing selections of Southern Motion furniture. Southern Motion is represented by many independent retailers throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico.

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Southern Motion / Fusion Furniture is committed to the health and safety of our employees. We are taking all CDC-recommended steps to ensure a safe working environment. We continue to practice social distancing, wear masks, and use other “best practices” to help protect our team members. We are continuing to produce and ship orders to customers around the country as quickly as we can, however, please expect some production and shipping delays. Due to several factors - including extreme furniture demand, delays in our raw material supply chain, and shipping delays, we are experiencing extended lead times.

Thank you for your patience and understanding in this unprecedented time.