Ask an Expert: How to Clean Upholstery

We often get asked how to clean things. Here’s our best tips on how to clean upholstery like the pros do.


Your couch is one of the most used pieces of furniture in your household. We go to it to sit back, relax, spend time reading, watching television, or even taking a nap. All of that activity might leave residue, dirt, stains, and bacteria that no one wants to share the couch with! Take a hard look at your couch, it’s probably time to give it a good cleaning. Here are our best tips on how to clean upholstery like the experts.

Before you dive into this guide on how to clean upholstery, first learn what you’re dealing with by checking the label on the bottom of the piece or under a cushion to see what type of cleaner is recommended. The label should have a code:

  • W = Water Based: These fabrics can be cleaned with water-based cleaning solvents.
  • S = Solvent Based: Use only a dry cleaning or water-free solvent to remove stains or oils. The use of these chemicals requires a well-ventilated room and no open flames like fireplaces or candles.
  • WS = Water or Solvent: These upholstery fabrics can be cleaned with either water-based or solvent-based products.
  • X = Professional cleaning required as any type of home cleaning product can cause staining and shrinking.

After determining the type of fabric, apply these cleaning tips below to ensure a deep, effective clean of your upholstery.

1. Vacuuming

Use a hand vacuum or the brush attachment on your vacuum to clean debris and dirt from the sofa surface. Be sure to clean the crevices where pet hair, food crumbs and dirt accumulate. If the cushions are not attached, remove them and vacuum both sides. Using the upholstery attachment, vacuum left to right in short, overlapping strokes, starting at the top of the piece, and working toward the bottom. (For delicate fabrics, like silk and linen, set the suction to low.) This left-to-right technique is especially important for nappy materials that hold on to dirt, like chenille, suede, velvet, and corduroy.

2. Removing Stains

The quicker you attend to a spill (of wine, sauce, greasy food), the less likely it will stain, so as soon as your able, blot—don’t rub!—immediately with a clean, white cloth.

To treat whatever mark remains, or go after spills that have set into stains, try a spot cleaner or dry-cleaning solvent approved for your type of upholstery. If your fabric is water-safe, wet and wring out a clean cloth or sponge and dip it into a mixture of water and a little liquid dish soap. Then gently blot the stain. Follow-up by blotting with a clean cloth or sponge that has been dipped in clean water and wrung out. Repeat as necessary, and then blot the spot dry with a clean cloth or white paper towels.

Here’s how to clean a sofa, by fabric type:

  • For fabric upholstery: Mix 1/4 cup vinegar, 3/4 warm water and 1 tablespoon of dish soap. Put in a spray bottle. Mist the soiled area. Scrub with a soft cloth until the stain lifts. Use a second cloth moistened with clean water to remove the soap. Dry with a towel.
  • For leather upholstery. Mix 1/2 cup olive oil with 1/4 cup vinegar and put into a spray bottle. Spray the cleaner on the surface of the couch and buff with a soft cloth.
  • For synthetic upholstery: Mix 1/2 cup of vinegar, 1 cup of warm water and 1/2 tablespoon of liquid dish soap or Castile soap in a spray bottle. Mist the soiled area and scrub with a soft cloth until the stain is gone.

If the spot does not come out after two or three applications, it’s time to call a professional.

3.General Tips for Upholstery Cleaning

  • With any of these techniques, be sure to test an inconspicuous area first (like under a cushion, or on the back side of the skirt) to make sure colors won’t bleed or fade.
  • Be sure to avoid getting water or cleaning agents on the wood or metal portions of your furniture, as this could rust, corrode, or cause discoloration.
  • These techniques should be used on natural or synthetic woven fabrics.

If your fabric has an X code, call a professional to clean your upholstery. Grandmother’s Touch helps keep your furniture and fabric looking like new. We offer a wide variety of convenient commercial cleaning, maintenance, and restoration services to ensure that your belongings are always sparkling clean. Whether you need a one-time emergency service or weekly routine commercial office cleaning in Toronto, our team is committed to providing our clients friendly, detail-oriented service. Contact us for a quote today.

Spring clean your home, so why not spring clean your office? If everyone shares the responsibility, together with the right supplies and some elbow grease, you’ll have a fresh, clean, and de-cluttered office in no time!

We recommend that everyone starts with their desk. Once cleaning and de-cluttering individual workspaces are complete, split off into smaller teams and tackle other common areas like lunchrooms, storage areas and conference rooms.

Here are the main things you’ll want to focus when tackling your ultimate office spring cleaning checklist:

  • De-clutter and clean desks

  • Remove everything from your desk and dispose or store unused items
  • Wipe surfaces down with a clean, microfiber rag
  • Wipe computer or laptop screen, keyboard, and mouse with electronic cleaning wipes
  • Clean your keyboard with canned air to remove dirt and crumbs stuck beneath the keys
  • Disinfect mobile or desk phone
  • Recycle any unused cables or chargers

  • Lobby, hallways, storage, and meeting rooms

  • Use a ladder or stepping stool to dust tops of cabinets and storage shelves
  • Dust ceiling fans and light fixtures with an extendable duster
  • Clean windowsills and window tracks
  • Vacuum curtains and blinds
  • Disinfect light switches, cabinet handles and doorknobs
  • Wipe down conference tables and chairs
  • Replace burnt out light bulbs
  • Dust cobwebs and vacuum baseboards

  • Double check safety equipment

  • Check the expiry date on all fire extinguishers
  • Test batteries in all your smoke detectors

  • Clean the break room

  • Clean out refrigerator and cabinets, throwing away any expired food
  • Once the fridge is empty, wipe down shelves, defrost the freezer and vacuum the rear coils
  • Wipe down small appliances like coffee machines and toasters
  • Run a cleaning cycle on the dishwasher and empty drain trap
  • Clear out clutter and old utensils from kitchen drawers
  • Empty the crumb tray from the toaster and toaster oven

  • Call in the pros when needed

  • Windows
  • Steam clean carpets
  • Deep clean floors and bathrooms
  • Exterminators if insects or rodent droppings were found

Do your best, but you may want to call in the pros for some jobs that require specialized cleaning equipment or require access to out-of-reach areas of the building. A clean, well-organized office is a healthy and productive one. If you’re looking for commercial cleaning in Toronto, Grandmother’s Touch can fulfill a wide variety of needs, regardless of the type or size of the project. Contact us today to find out how we can help fulfill your needs through our comprehensive cleaning services.

Have a happy office spring clean!