How to Clean Your Home Furnishings

Cleaning Upholstery

The vast majority of furniture is upholstered in fabric, leather, or vinyl. Chances are, then, that you have some of this type of furniture in your home. Here's what to do with it:


Most furniture upholstered in fabric can be shampooed safely at home; the exception to this is fabric marked "Dry-clean only." Spot-clean this kind of fabric with a solvent, or try the following recipe: Mix 1/4 cup of dishwashing liquid with 1 cup of warm water, and whip the solution with an eggbeater. Apply the foam to the upholstery, a small section at a time, with a clean, soft-bristled brush. Shake off any excess water. Rinse the upholstery by gently rubbing the fabric with a moist, clean cloth; rinse the cloth as necessary.


Leather must be cleaned with pure soap products (no detergents) and benefits from applying conditioner occasionally to restore moisture and bring up the sheen. A sudsy solution of dishwashing liquid and warm water is one of the best ways to clean leather upholstery. Apply the suds only, scrubbing gently with a soft-bristled brush; wipe clean with a damp sponge.


Vinyl upholstery can be cleaned in the same way as leather or with a commercial cleaner developed especially for cleaning vinyl. The best way to clean vinyl upholstery is with baking soda on a cloth, followed by a light washing with dishwashing liquid. Never use oil; it will harden the upholstery.

If you follow the directions we outlined in this article, each furnishing in your home should look as new as the day you bought it. Stay on top of cleaning your furnishings, and you'll have a home ready to showcase every day.