How to Clean Upholstery Without Water

ByJay Pellman, MPH Updated April 1, 2022 Our Editorial ProcessHunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.
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Before setting out to clean your upholstery, it's important to read the care tag to see what the manufacturer recommends. While some upholstered furniture can be cleaned with a mild detergent or household products, like water or vinegar, some will require dry cleaning. If you've found yourself with a piece of dry-clean-only furniture in need of cleaning, you may decide to handle the task yourself rather than calling in a professional dry cleaner. Learn how to clean your upholstery without using water or a water-based product.


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How to Clean Upholstery Without Water

Step 1: Test Your Options

Before you use any sort of cleaning product on your furniture, even if it claims to be safe for upholstery, you'll want to test it in an inconspicuous spot. Choose a small corner on the back of your couch or the underside of a flap to make sure any product you choose won't damage your fabric. If the product has an effect on either the texture or color of your upholstery, don't use it.

How to Clean Upholstery Without Water


Step 2: Use a Lint Roller

If you have pets or children, it's likely that your furniture is covered with dust, crumbs, or pet hair. To help your upholstered furniture look fresher quickly, roll the lint roller back and forth over the entire surface of your couch or chair. You'll likely need to remove several layers of sticky paper as you notice them becoming covered in picked-up debris.


Step 3: Use a Vacuum

Vacuum your upholstered furniture thoroughly, including underneath any removable cushions. Work the brush attachment of your vacuum back and forth over any obvious dirt or crumbs.


If your vacuum seems to lose suction at any point, check to see if the dirt receptacle is overfull or if the tubing has become clogged.

Step 4: Use a Foaming Upholstery Cleaner

If your upholstered furniture is stained, you'll want to use a foaming upholstery cleaner. These products can be purchased in the cleaning aisle of most stores as well as from your local automotive store since it's often used on car upholstery, carpets, and floor mats.


While each brand of foaming cleaner may have slightly different directions, you are typically instructed to spray the cleaner on the soiled area and allow it to foam for a few minutes before wiping or brushing the stain away with a soft cleaning cloth or brush. After rubbing away the stain, blot the area you've cleaned with a fresh cleaning cloth to remove cleaner residue and then vacuum your upholstery once more to whisk away any remaining dirt or grime.

Step 5: Call In a Professional

If your furniture still looks dingy or stained, it may be time to call in a professional to clean your upholstery.


If your furniture is still under warranty, choosing to clean it yourself rather than having it professionally cleaned may void the warranty.



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