How to Clean Your Furniture

Cleaning sofa with vaccuum

Is figuring out how to clean your furniture always a challenge? You’ve come to the right place. We’re making it easy for you and breaking down every situation, so you don’t have to think twice the next time you see a stain.

A statement piece can change the entire look of a room. However, a statement piece of furniture covered in stains, scratches, and pet hair will also change the look of a room, but probably not in the way you were going for.

Messes on upholstery like leather, suede, velvet, and chenille can’t be simply scrubbed away using whatever cleaner you find under the sink. Luckily, it won’t take the whole kitchen sink to keep these pieces clean.

A few simple ingredients — plus a handy tool or two — will keep your used furniture looking luxurious and like-new for years to come. Read on to discover easy tips to help you keep your used furniture in top condition.

How to Clean Leather Furniture

Leather pants are a tough commitment to make. Ease yourself into something a little less restricting and recline into a great leather chair, instead. The following steps are easy to follow and will help bring a level of cool to your living room that everyone will appreciate:

  • Start by vacuuming all dust and loose debris from the piece using a brush attachment.
  • Be sure to clean between the cushions and down into the crevices of the furniture.
  • Once finished, wipe the whole thing down with a dry cotton or microfiber cloth.

Your next steps will be determined by the type of leather you’re working with: aniline (unprotected) or semi-aniline (protected):

  • Aniline leather: Regular dusting and light vacuuming of unprotected (aniline) leather will maintain the vintage flair of this type of leather. For a more thorough clean, gently wipe the surface with a damp cloth or follow the directions on a leather cleaner suitable for this type of leather. Just keep in mind that its natural texture is sensitive to scratching and staining, so clean it with extra care.
  • Semi-aniline leather: Protected (semi-aniline/pigmented) leather can stand up to heavier use and cleaning than the aniline variety. Just be sure to stay away from products containing ammonia or alkalies, like saddle soap and detergents. These abrasive materials can damage leather beyond repair.
    Consider making your own semi-aniline leather cleaner comprising equal parts of vinegar and water. Mix the two in a bowl, slightly dampen a clean towel and wipe down the soiled parts of the furniture. Rinse the cloth every so often to avoid spreading dirt around.

Table in front of leather couch with blanket in white flat interior with poster and plants. Real photo

Additional tips for leather furniture

  • Extend the life of your leather furniture: Leather furniture is especially sought after for its supple texture and soft shine. To maintain this, condition your pieces every 6-12 months. For a homemade leather conditioner, combine one part white vinegar and two parts linseed oil or flaxseed oil. With a soft, clean cloth, apply this mixture on the material’s surface in large circular motions and leave on overnight. The next day, buff with a clean towel to restore the leather’s shine.
  • Eliminate grease stains: Immediately wipe the mess away with a paper towel or clean, dry cloth in case of a grease stain. Do not add water, which could cause the grease to soak into the leather. If the grease has dried by the time you realize the mess, sprinkle baking soda onto the area to draw it out. Leave the baking soda on for a few hours, then brush it away with a rag.
  • Get rid of marker stains: If a sneaky toddler takes a ballpoint pen to your leather ottoman, then rubbing alcohol may be your savior. Try dabbing alcohol onto a cotton swab, then gently wipe the stain until the ink clears.

How to Clean Suede Furniture

Suede is the underside of the animal skin, sanded and brushed to create a soft, delicate finish. Maintaining the suede nap — what gives the textile its distinct texture — is the most important part of preserving the look of your suede furniture.

Periodically brush the material with a suede brush (toothbrush, vegetable brush, or nail brush) to remove dirt or light stains. If the nap is not cared for, it will start to look dull and lose its smooth finish.

If your piece needs a deep clean, sweep the surface with a brush, then rub it with a suede eraser. The eraser’s small particles can get under the surface of the nap, taking dirt with them when they’re lightly brushed away. A pencil eraser or slightly damp kitchen sponge would also do the trick.

Red/Orange Suede couch in a bright

Additional tips for suede furniture

If a spill or smudge occurs, wipe it up with a suede cloth, Turkish towel, or a paper towel as soon as possible so that the fabric does not soak up the liquid/ dirt and become flat.

Next, locate the manufacturer’s tag to determine how to properly clean your piece:

  • S and W labels: Grab an empty spray bottle and make your own mix depending on the label’s specifications:
    • W-labeled furniture can be cleaned with a water-based solution so you can mix warm water and a few drops of mild dish soap.
    • S-labeled pieces should be cleaned using a solvent which is why we recommend to fill the spray bottle with rubbing alcohol.

    Once you’re done with your cleaner, spray the stain itself and dampen the fabric to loosen the dirt (tip: do not soak the fabric as soaking the suede may lead to further staining). Then, rub a soft, white towel or a clean sponge in a circular motion over those sections until the stain disappears. Let dry. Once the fabric feels completely dry, fluff the fibers using a soft-bristled brush to soften the material and refresh its look.

  • X labels: An X label means that absolutely no liquid should be used on the piece. That means vacuum only. Skip the spray-on cleanser and carefully maneuver the upholstery attachment on your vacuum to remove debris from the surface.

How to Clean Velvet Furniture

There’s no better way to lounge like a king than by doing so on a velvet chaise. However, one spill from your jeweled goblet can create a royal mess. But no worries, here’s how you can take care of it.

Start by vacuuming using the brush attachment, moving in the direction of the velvet’s nap. Find the cleaning code for the piece of furniture on the manufacturer’s tag. Keep in mind that most velvet furniture has an “S” cleaning code which means that you should avoid water or water-based products and only turn to solvents.

Royal blue velvet armchair with gold frame standing in vintage living room interior with wooden cupboard and coffee table with magazines

Additional tips for velvet furniture

When a spill occurs, it’s important to act fast and help the velvet dry as quickly as possible. Use a paper towel to soak up the liquid. Then, apply the dry cleaning detergent to a clean sponge and blot the stain until it has been removed.

Let the cleanser dry on the fabric, using a hair dryer or fan to accelerate the process as needed. Restore the velvet’s smooth finish using a soft brush.

How to Clean Chenille Furniture

Chenille is like a tiny puppy: so cuddly and soft that you just want to squeeze it, but delicate enough that you know you have to be gentle. It’s not out of the question for furniture upholstery, it just takes some extra care when it comes to cleaning.

Chenille’s vertical and horizontal threads can loop and loosen from the rest of the knitting, resulting in worming. To properly care for your chenille furniture and prevent this from happening, begin by brushing the surface with a very soft upholstery brush or baby hair brush to loosen any dirt. Vacuum up the debris in the direction of the chenille’s nap using the brush attachment.

Three chenille West Elm dining chairs in mauve, grey, and navy

Additional tips for chenille furniture

Cotton and wool chenille fibers tend to release dyes easily, so check the manufacturer’s tag on your furniture before cleaning to make sure you’re following the correct steps.

    • If the upholstery tag is marked with a “W,” use dye-free liquid soap or laundry detergent for delicate fabrics. Add a few drops of soap or detergent to a bowl of cold water and mix until small bubbles form. Dip a clean sponge or white rag in the foam, and dab at stains until they fade. Don’t scrub across the nap. Rinse away the soap with a new, damp rag.
    • If the tag is marked with an “S,” then keep in mind that this type of chenille requires a solvent-based cleaner. Lightly wet a clean, white rag with dry cleaning solution and dab at the stain, making sure not to rub it.
    • For an upholstery tag marked with an “X,” steer clear of solvent- and water-based cleaners would do the trick. Stains should lift with the help of gentle vacuuming and brushing, but if not, consult a dry cleaner or upholstery specialist.

Regardless of the cleaning method, dry all chenille furniture ASAP to avoid shrinkage or other damage to the fabric. You can also try using a hairdryer set on low or point a box fan at the piece to get an extra boost.

Article by MakeSpace, a full-service storage company that picks up, stores, and delivers your stuff so you never have to visit a self-storage unit
Photos via West Elm, Architectural DigestWest ElmSarah SarnaDecorPadValue City Furniture,


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