Keeping upholstery clean is essential for maintaining a fresh and inviting living space. The right upholstery cleaner can effectively remove dirt, grime, and stains, while also protecting your furniture from future damage. With the vast array of upholstery cleaners available, choosing the right one can be a daunting task. This comprehensive guide will provide you with the knowledge to select the best upholstery cleaner for your specific needs.

Types of Upholstery Cleaners

There are two main types of upholstery cleaners:

  • Water-based cleaners: These cleaners use water as the primary solvent. They are generally considered safe for most types of upholstery, but may not be suitable for delicate fabrics.

  • Solvent-based cleaners: These cleaners use solvents such as mineral spirits or acetone to dissolve dirt and stains. They are more effective at removing stubborn stains, but can be harsh on certain fabrics and may leave behind a lingering odor.

Choosing the Right Upholstery Cleaner

The best upholstery cleaner for you will depend on the type of fabric and the severity of the stains. Here's a breakdown of factors to consider:

  • Fabric type: Delicate fabrics like silk or velvet require a gentle cleaner, while more durable fabrics like cotton or linen can tolerate harsher cleaners.

  • Stain type: Some cleaners are specifically formulated to remove certain types of stains, such as food spills, pet urine, or ink. If you're dealing with a specific stain, choose a cleaner that is designed to target it effectively.

  • Personal preferences: Some people prefer eco-friendly cleaners, while others may prefer a stronger cleaner with a potent odor. Consider your own preferences and choose a cleaner that meets your needs.

Top Upholstery Cleaners

Best Overall: Folex Instant Carpet Spot Remover

  • Pros: Versatile cleaner suitable for most types of upholstery; removes tough stains effectively; available in a convenient spray bottle
  • Cons: May not be suitable for delicate fabrics

Best for Delicate Fabrics: Woolite Advanced Upholstery and Fabric Cleaner

  • Pros: Gentle formula safe for delicate fabrics; removes stains without damaging the fibers; leaves a fresh scent
  • Cons: May not be effective on stubborn stains

Best for Pet Stains: Nature's Miracle Advanced Stain & Odor Eliminator

  • Pros: Enzyme-based formula specifically designed to remove pet urine and feces stains; eliminates odors; safe for use around pets
  • Cons: May not be effective on older stains

Best for Food and Beverage Stains: Shout Triple-Acting Spray

  • Pros: Triple-action formula removes stains, odors, and bacteria; safe for use on upholstery, carpets, and clothing; available in a convenient spray bottle
  • Cons: May not be suitable for delicate fabrics

Best for Heavily Soiled Upholstery: Zep Professional Upholstery & Carpet Cleaner

  • Pros: Heavy-duty cleaner designed for heavily soiled upholstery; removes dirt, grime, and stains; available in a gallon concentrate
  • Cons: May leave behind a slight residue; may not be suitable for delicate fabrics

Tips for Using Upholstery Cleaners

  • Always test the cleaner on an inconspicuous area first to ensure it does not damage the fabric.
  • Follow the instructions on the cleaner label carefully. Do not over-apply or under-apply the cleaner.
  • Use a clean cloth or sponge to apply the cleaner and gently rub it into the stain.
  • Allow the cleaner to dwell for the specified time to work its magic.
  • Blot the cleaner away with a clean cloth and rinse the area with water if necessary.
  • Allow the upholstery to dry completely before using.


Choosing the right upholstery cleaner is crucial for maintaining the beauty and longevity of your furniture. By considering the factors discussed in this guide, you can select a cleaner that will effectively remove dirt, stains, and odors without damaging your upholstery. Regular cleaning and maintenance will keep your upholstery looking its best for years to come.

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