How to Clean Upholstery

Cleaning spills

The first thing to do is to blot immediately with kitchen paper to absorb the liquid. Repeat this until you have removed as much liquid as possible. Don’t be tempted to use heat, for example a hair dryer, to speed the drying as this can cause shrinkage or permanently fix stains. After blotting, stop and consider whether to accept the remaining damage or try to remove more stain. If in doubt, limit your remedy to blotting and consult an upholstery or textiles conservator for further treatment.

In some cases it is possible to lightly dampen the surface with water, then blot away as much of the water and stain as possible. This process can be repeated, drying by thoroughly blotting between each stage. However, upholstery is composed of many layers. If water or other liquids are used, it isn’t always possible to keep the effects on the layers separate. You may find that colours in the top cover have run or that tidelines have formed as dirt is drawn up from the lower layers into the textile cover. Both of these problems can be permanent and attempts to remove the stain can simply extended the area of damage.