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The Best Way to Clean An Upholstered Chair: At Home

Pull up a chair and check out these super-duper cleaning tips on the best way to clean an upholstered chair.

Your fabric seats are stained. Does that mean they’re ruined forever? No. You can clean them at home without the use of a professional cleaning service.

Whether you’ve got microfiber or vinyl chairs, new or old stains, we’re here to show you how to clean fabric chairs.

Keep reading for our four favorite methods that will make your seats look as good as new.

Key Takeaways

  • Clean fabric chairs using a baking soda paste to remove stains and odors.
  • Try specialized products like OxiClean or Chemical Guys Fabric Cleaner for a deep clean.
  • Always test cleaning products in an inconspicuous area to avoid damage.
  • Regular care, including vacuuming and spot cleaning, keeps chairs looking their best.

Best Products to Clean Fabric Chairs

While you can use products you may already have in the cupboard, it’s worth trying some specialized products. Some cleaners out there will work wonders at sprucing up fabric chairs and removing stains.

OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover Powder

This all-in-one stain remover can eliminate stains from clothes, rugs, tile, and of course, upholstery. If your fabric chairs need a deep clean, this is the stuff to try.

OxiClean can remove grass, blood, wine, food, grease, ink stains, and more! It will clean your chairs and also make them brighter, bringing back their natural hue.

Expert Tip

Always test in an inconspicuous area first to ensure that the OxiClean doesn’t stain or damage your fabric.

Chemical Guys Fabric Cleaner

Designed to clean fabric chairs — as well as outdoor furniture, upholstery, and carpets — this uses the power of biotechnology. There are no harsh or toxic chemicals, nor is there any elbow grease necessary! This easy-to-use cleaner will break down and eliminate even the most stubborn stains.

So whether you have food stains, drink stains, sweat stains, or more, this cleaner can renew your fabric dining chairs, office seats, and couches.

Chemical Guys Fabric Cleaner

Designed to clean fabric chairs — as well as outdoor furniture, upholstery, and carpets — this uses the power of biotechnology. There are no harsh or toxic chemicals, nor is there any elbow grease necessary! This easy-to-use cleaner will break down and eliminate even the most stubborn stains.

So whether you have food stains, drink stains, sweat stains, or more, this cleaner can renew your fabric dining chairs, office seats, and couches.

Rocco & Roxie Stain & Odor Eliminator

For stained and smelly seats, this is the product to try. It removes all kinds of stains — including pet urine, feces, and vomit — as well as lingering odors.

If you’ve got kids and pets, and your fabric seats are looking unsightly, then this cleaner can transform your upholstery.

The seller also guarantees 100 percent satisfaction, so if you’re unhappy, they’ll provide a full refund.

Woolite Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner Stain Remover

This 4x action formula will clean, eliminate odors, protect your seats and will refresh your upholstery. It has the power to lift tough stains, including pet mishaps, vomit, and more. Finishing up by neutralizing your odors, you’ll be wowed by how brand new your fabric seats look.

You can put this to the test on all your fabric furniture as well as your carpets. The bottles are easy to use and no diluting is necessary.

How to Clean Fabric Chairs

Let’s look at the basic approach for deep cleaning your fabric chairs. This method will also work on fabric couches, office chairs, and other cloth furniture. We’ll cover microfiber and vinyl seats, cleaning with or without a steam cleaner, and a few other handy methods.

Microfiber Vs. Vinyl Chairs

What’s the difference between these two materials?

Vinyl is a versatile fabric made from a kind of PVC and is designed to replicate leather. It is an easier fabric to clean since it’s less absorbent. We recommend sticking to baking soda or a specialized commercial cleaner for tackling vinyl.

Microfiber, on the other hand, is soft, super absorbent and dries fast. We recommend using diluted dish soap solution or a specialized commercial cleaner to clean microfiber.

Some of our commercial cleaner recommendations are suitable for both microfiber and vinyl. Always check the material of your fabric chairs before buying a product.

With a Steam Cleaner

If you’ve got a steam cleaner, you can put it to use on your fabric furniture.

  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  1. Check the care label to be sure the fabric allows steam cleaning.
  2. Vacuum the chair before beginning.
  3. Set up your steam cleaner and allow it to heat up.
  4. Starting at the top of the seat, pass your steam cleaner over the fabric. Pass slowly and evenly.
  5. Repeat if necessary.
  6. Let the furniture dry thoroughly before sitting on the chair as it may be wet and warm.

Something To Note

If your fabric is stained, don’t use a steam cleaner until you’ve removed the stains. The hot steam can set stains permanently.

Without a Steam Cleaner

If you don’t have a steam cleaner, you can still achieve fantastic results. For this method, you can use a vacuum cleaner, dish soap, and water.

  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  1. Vacuum the seat using your vacuum’s upholstery attachment.
  2. Mix together one liter of lukewarm water and three tablespoons of dish soap.
  3. Dampen a microfiber cloth with the solution.
  4. In circular motions, apply the solution to the fabric. Let it suds up.
  5. Let the solution soak onto the chair for 10 minutes.
  6. If there are stained parts, gently scrub the stains with a soft-bristled brush.
  7. After you’ve waited 10 minutes, wipe the seat with a dampened microfiber cloth.
  8. Blot the chair dry with a fresh towel.
  9. Let it air dry fully.

With OxiClean

If you’re going down the OxiClean route, you need to know how to use it. The instructions will come with your product, but we’ll walk you through it anyway.

  • Time: 10-20 minutes
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  1. Vacuum your chair before beginning. This will remove excess dirt and debris.
  2. Fill up to the first line using the OxiClean scoop.
  3. Add to a basin of 16 ounces of water. If you need to increase the quantities, make sure to keep the same ratio.
  4. Dampen a clean white towel into the solution.
  5. Blot the fabric, cleaning as you go. For stains, repeat until the stain is gone.
  6. Dampen a clean white towel with plain water and blot the fabric to rinse.
  7. Let the fabric fully air dry.

Expert Advice

Only use on water-washable fabric. For instance, never use OxiClean on wool, silk, or leather. If cleaning vintage seats, be sure that the material allows. If it says dry-clean only, do not use OxiClean. Always take the seats to a professional.

With Baking Soda

Baking soda can work wonders on your fabric, cloth, and linen seats if you want to be super eco-friendly.

This is the best method for cleaning vinyl seats.

  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy/Intermediate
  1. Vacuum your seat before beginning.
  2. In a bowl, mix together baking soda and water until you create a paste. This is about a 3:1 ratio of baking soda and water.
  3. Apply the paste to the fabric and scrub with a damp towel or cloth.
  4. Let it sit for 10 minutes. The baking soda will absorb stains, dirt, and odors.
  5. Rinse the seat with a clean damp towel.
  6. With another dry towel, blot the seat dry.
  7. Let it dry thoroughly.
  8. Repeat if necessary.

How to Get Stains Out of Fabric Chairs

What happens if you have a sudden stain on your seats, but you don’t necessarily need to go through with a deep clean? Let’s look at the best way to remove stains from your seats. This also works for discolored areas.

The most important tip is to clean messes as soon as they happen. This will increase your chances of getting them out completely.

  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Intermediate

What You’ll Need

  • Cloths
  • Furniture polish (for vinyl or leather)
  • Dish soap
  • Water
  • Bowl and spoon
  • Hydrogen peroxide (for stubborn stains)
  • Distilled white vinegar

1. Check the Label

Before doing anything, check the care label on the chair. If it specifies dry-clean only, take it to a professional.

If the label says “W” or “WS”, this means you can use a water-based cleaning solution.

If it says “S”, it means you have to use a water-free cleaner such as a dry cleaning solvent. We recommend hiring a professional for these seats.

“X” means it should only be cleaned professionally.

2. Blot the Stain

If you can use water on your seat, blot the stain with a damp cloth. Remove as much excess of the mess as possible.

3. Mix Cleaning Solution

Mix together ¼ cup of dish soap with one cup of warm water. Stir until the solution suds up.

4. Apply the Cleaning Solution

Dampen a cloth into the cleaning solution. Gently blot the stained area, dabbing until the stain has lifted. Make more cleaning solutions if necessary.

5. Clean With Hydrogen Peroxide (Optional)

For stubborn stains, you may have to utilize the power of hydrogen peroxide. Make sure to use three percent hydrogen peroxide. Dampen a cloth with the hydrogen peroxide and blot the stain until it has disappeared.

6. Finish With Distilled White Vinegar

To finish the cleaning process, dampen a cloth with distilled white vinegar. Blot the area. This will remove water stains and odors. Leave the vinegar to soak onto the area for 15 minutes before blotting dry.

7. Let the Chair Air Dry

Before using the chair again, let it air dry completely. If the stain persists, repeat these steps.

Bonus Tip

Before using any of these cleaning solutions — dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, or vinegar — make sure to do a spot test in a hidden area of the chair. You don’t want to create further stains. That would be a disaster!

Deep Cleaning Fabric Chairs

When you have a free Saturday afternoon, you might want to dedicate it to deep cleaning your fabric chairs. This means getting rid of pesky stains and discoloration, deep cleaning every inch of your chair, and saying goodbye to weird odors. Our methods involve cleaning without a machine, so you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars.

  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Intermediate/Expert

What You’ll Need

  • Vacuum
  • Stain remover solution
  • Cloths
  • Cleaning solution of choice
  • Optional: steamer
  • Optional: iron
  • Towel
  • Multi-purpose cleaner

1. Vacuum the Chair

Give your seat a good hoover before beginning to remove excess dirt and debris.

2. Tackle Stains

Spot treat any stains using the above method. Use dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, or a stain remover of your choice. Once you’ve removed the stains, move on to the next step.

3. Clean the Fabric

Now we’ll tackle the fabric. There are many different ways to do this. You can use a commercial cleaner, such as the ones we recommended. OxiClean is a popular choice! Or you can use dish soap or baking soda. Whatever you choose to do, leave the solution to sit on the fabric for 5-10 minutes for a deeper clean.

4. Steam Clean for a Deep Clean

Since you’re here for a deep clean, it’s a good idea to give it a good steam. If you don’t have a steamer, you can borrow one from a friend. Or you can even use an iron! Just place down a thin cloth or towel over the fabric and iron the seat like you would an article of clothing. The steam will sanitize the fabric and remove odors.

5. Clean the Rest of the Chair

Using a multi-purpose cleaner, spritz a cloth and wipe down the rest of the chair. This includes the back, sides, and legs.

6. Air Dry

Let the chair completely air dry.

Bonus Tip

The best way to deep clean a fabric chair is by hiring a professional. If you want the best clean possible, call in your local upholstery team to come out and deep clean your furniture.

Tips For Cleaning Fabric Chairs Without Damaging Them

The last thing you need is to damage your chairs further. Here are some handy tips to make sure you’re protecting your chairs from damage.

  • Always check the manufacturer’s note when using a commercial cleaner. They will state what kind of fabrics you should avoid with specific cleaners. For instance, never use OxiClean on leather, silk, or wool.
  • Always hire a professional to clean fabrics with an “S” or “X” code. Using your own cleaners can damage the fabrics.
  • Don’t leave cleaning solutions on the fabric for too long. This can cause discoloration.
  • Always vacuum before cleaning. If you start scrubbing and there is still debris on your seat, you can scratch the fabric.

How to Care For a Fabric Dining Chair

Regular care for your chair is key to keeping it looking as good as new.

Here are some tips for regular maintenance and care:

  • Vacuum your chairs weekly as you’re vacuuming the rest of the house. This will remove excess dirt and debris and prevent stains.
  • Tackle stains as soon as you notice them. If you spill food or drink at mealtime, clean it up as soon as possible.
  • Give the chair a deep clean once a month. Regular cleaning will keep the chairs looking spotless for longer!

How to Replace the Fabric On an Upholstered Chair

If the chair is beyond cleaning, you don’t need to toss it away. You can replace the fabric on a chair.

You can do this at home, but it might seem daunting. If you’re not feeling up to the challenge, you can hire someone to do this for you.

  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Intermediate/Expert

What You’ll Need

  • Upholstery fabric
  • Cambric dust cover fabric
  • Staple gun
  • C.S. Osborne combination tool
  • Scissors or rotary cutter

1. Remove the Cushion and Cover

Remove the cushion from your seat. It may be screwed on. Turn the cushion over and remove the dust cover. Use your C.S. Osborne combination tool to remove the staples or tacks that attach the fabric to the seat.

There may be more layers of fabric and staples. Remove those, too.

2. Attach New Fabric

Cut and lay your new fabric face down. Place the seat cushion face down on top of the fabric. Make sure there is about 3-4 inches to wrap around the back of the seat cushion.

Pull the fabric over the back of the seat and staple it in the middle of all four sides. Make sure the fabric is tight, so that there isn’t any excess fabric on the seated side of the chair. Add more staples to all four sides under the seat, but leave a few inches loose at all four corners.

If there are any loose sides, remove staples, tighten fabric, and staple again.

3. Secure Fabric Corners

At each corner, pull the middle bit of fabric towards the middle of the seat. Secure with a staple. Fold over one edge and staple again, forming a pleat. Fold the other side to form a second pleat. Repeat this for the other three corners. Trim excess fabric.

4. Attach the Dust Cover

It’s time to attach the cambric dust cover. This isn’t necessary, but it’s a good addition to the bottom of your seat.

Cut the cambric to the same size as the seat’s frame. Fold under the edges and staple to the bottom of your seat, attaching the dust cover to the new fabric.

5. Reattach the Cushion to the Chair

Time to reattach the cushion to your chair using the same method as when you removed it. For instance, if it was screwed on, you’ll need to reinsert it using the same screws. Voila! Your chair is reupholstered.


How Do You Clean Linen Dining Room Chairs?

The best way to clean linen dining room chairs is to vacuum them, dab off any blemishes with distilled water and white cloth, and use mild dish soap for stubborn marks. If you have removable covers, it might be an idea to get them dry-cleaned.

What is the Best Homemade Upholstery Cleaner?

One of the best homemade upholstery cleaners consists of one cup of water, mixed with 1/2 a cup of white vinegar and 1/2 a tablespoon of natural dish soap.

Can You Shampoo a Couch?

You can shampoo a couch, provided you check the care label to ensure it can tolerate moisture-based cleaning.

How Long Does It Take a Couch to Dry After Steam Cleaning?

The time it takes a couch to dry after steam cleaning depends on the fabric. You should expect it to take between two to six hours to dry.

How Do You Maintain Couch Fabric?

The best way to maintain couch fabric is to remove stains as they happen and to clean the material once or twice a month with a dedicated fabric cleaner, like this Chemical Guys Foaming Upholstery Cleaner.

Sit Back and Relax

Now that you know how to clean your fabric chairs, you can forget about those unsightly stains. There are many different ways you can clean your chair, so you should be able to get to work right away.

Whether you plan on using a steam cleaner, dish soap, OxiClean, or baking soda — you can say hello to beautifully clean chairs. This also works on armchairs, dining chairs, couches, and other upholstery.

Don’t forget to focus on maintenance tips to ensure that stains don’t get the better of your chair.

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism, and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!