Upholstery is the soft, padded material used to cover armchairs, loveseats, sofas, sectionals, and other furniture items. Depending on the context, upholstery can also refer to thick, padded curtains or drapes. To properly clean this material without damaging the finish or the framework under the fabric, you need to use the best upholstery cleaner.
The best upholstery cleaner for your furniture depends on the material you want to clean, the cleaning option you prefer, and several other variables. Take a look below at some of the best upholstery cleaners available for a variety of fabrics and cleaning methods.
- BEST OVERALL: Bissell 3624 SpotClean Professional Carpet Cleaner
- RUNNER UP: Bissell Multi-Purpose Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner
- BEST ORGANIC SPRAY: Earthworm Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner
- BEST FOR STAINS: Woolite INSTAclean Permanent Stain Remover 21799
- BEST LEATHER WIPES: Weiman Leather Wipes – 3 Pack
- BEST FOR DELICATE FABRICS: Weiman Upholstery & Fabric Cleaner – 12 Ounce
- BEST VACUUM CLEANER: Eureka NEU182B PowerSpeed Bagless Upright Vacuum
- BEST STEAM CLEANER: McCulloch MC1275 Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Upholstery Cleaner
Before you buy a new upholstery cleaner, consider these critical product features to ensure that you get the best upholstery cleaner for your fabric.
Upholstery cleaners come in several different types, including sprays, wipes, vacuums, and steam cleaners.
- Upholstery sprays are one of the easiest solutions you can use to keep your furniture clean. Their deep-cleaning formulas are designed to lift dirt to the fabric’s surface, where you can wipe it away with a microfiber cloth. Sprays are inexpensive and easy to use, but you won’t get the same results from sprays as you would from a steam cleaner.
- Upholstery wipes do not clean beyond the fabric’s surface, but they effectively remove built-up dust and debris, especially on leather furniture. These wipes may also condition and protect your upholstery so that it feels renewed and clean.
- Upholstery vacuums need to be separated from machines that are commonly known as carpet cleaners. A vacuum does not use water or a chemical cleaner to get the job done. Instead, this machine operates exactly like a regular vacuum, except that it has an upholstery attachment you can use to clean the dirt and debris from the surface (and the crevices) of the furniture. You should use a vacuum on your upholstery, then follow it up with a spray or a steam cleaning.
- Upholstery steam cleaners only use superheated water in the form of steam to penetrate the deepest fibers of your furniture and push the dirt and grime to the surface where the cleaner suctions it up.
- Carpet cleaners are often confused with vacuums because of their suction power. They are also confused with steam cleaners because of the water they use to clean fabrics. However, the water used in these devices is not hot enough to be considered steam clean. Instead, the best carpet cleaners are suited for moderate cleaning penetration and stain treatment.
Before you choose an upholstery cleaning solution, you need to know your upholstery’s fabric so that you do not damage or stain the fabric when you clean it. You can use just about any upholstery cleaner on tougher fabrics, such as synthetic microfiber or cotton chenille. Cleaning can easily damage fragile materials, such as silk, wool, or nylon, so you will need to be sure that a cleaner is safe for the material before you begin cleaning. The best way to narrow what cleaner to use is to refer to the tag on your upholstered furniture and look for one of the following four symbols:
- W: Only water-based cleaning solutions
- S: Only solvent-based cleaning solutions
- WS: Water-based and solvent-based cleaning solutions
- X: Only vacuuming or professional cleaning
If your furniture doesn’t have a tag or you still aren’t convinced that cleaning won’t damage the upholstery you should spot clean an area of the upholstery that goes unseen. This can include the underside of the furniture; the back or side of the furniture; or the side of a cushion that is usually hidden from view. If the cleaner works without issue, then move on to the rest of the furniture.
When you choose an upholstery cleaner, you can use a spray or a wipe explicitly formulated for cleaning your upholstery and nothing else. You can also choose a more versatile option, such as a steam cleaner or a vacuum. You can use these devices to clean many different surfaces and fabrics, including hardwood, stairs, carpet, bedding, curtain, tents, and many other materials that you have around the home.
So when you invest in a new upholstery cleaner, you can use the inexpensive spray or wipe options to cross this single chore done and off your list, or you can opt for a more expensive steam cleaner or vacuum to clean your upholstery and to clean the rest of your house.
Corded vs. Cordless
When you choose an upholstery vacuum or steam cleaner, whether it is corded or cordless, can make a big difference in how you clean your furniture.
- Corded upholstery cleaners have the benefit of long-lasting power that won’t give out unless the electricity goes out at your home. These machines are usually more powerful than their cordless counterparts, but they may also be much heavier, making them difficult to move. If you choose a corded upholstery cleaner, make sure it has a long power cord and a handheld hose to lessen the impact of its limited mobility.
- Cordless upholstery cleaners allow you to move around your home (or other locations) freely without having to worry about moving a cord or getting your feet tangled up. These units can be freestanding but are often seen as small handheld products that you can pick up and carry around the house. Cordless upholstery cleaners give you the benefit of mobility, but don’t offer high power and capacity due to their small size and limited battery.
Our Top Picks
The top-of-the-line products below were chosen for quality, efficacy, and price to help you find the best upholstery cleaner for your furniture.
When you get the Bissell SpotClean Portable Carpet Cleaner, the first benefit is that a portion of the cleaner’s cost goes to Bissell’s pet charity to help save homeless animals. After the warm fuzzy feeling fades, you can work with the superior suction power, gentle scrubbing brush, and included cleaning solution. The upholstery cleaner also comes with a stair tool and a 3-inch stain and spot remover so you can tackle a variety of jobs, including upholstery, carpets, stairs, or vehicle interiors.
While this upholstery cleaner is not cordless, it is considered portable because of its built-in carrying handle and compact, 13-pound weight. The cleaner also has a long, 20-foot power cable and an almost 6-foot hose that allows you to move around the room without having to connect and reconnect the power repeatedly.
Corded and compact, this Bissell Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner weighs just 9.6 pounds. Due to the small size, the built-in carrying handle, and the 15-foot power cord, the upholstery cleaner is considered portable. However, you will still have to watch out for the cord as you work with the 4-foot long suction hose.
The upholstery and carpet cleaner has an intense spray action to help the hot, soapy water penetrate your furniture’s fabric. The cleaner’s powerful suction draws the water, soap, and dirt out of the material and into the removable water tank. With this upholstery cleaner, you get a 3-inch spot and stain tool, and a hydro rinse tool for cleaning the hose after each use. As with other Bissell products, a portion of the cost for this upholstery cleaner helps save the lives of homeless pets.
If you prefer to use an organic solution to clean your upholstery, consider the Earthworm Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner. It uses enzymes, a naturally occurring protein in living organisms, that acts as a biological catalyst for many different processes. The enzymes significantly decrease the time it takes for organic materials, such as food, grease, and wine, to break down instead of physically trying to remove them from the fabric.
Due to naturally occurring enzymes, this upholstery cleaner is safe for pets, kids, and the rest of your family. It is designed to work on various fabrics and surfaces, including upholstery, carpets, curtains, pillows, and mattresses. The 22-ounce bottle of cleaner is fragrance-free and won’t leave chemical residue on your furniture.
This powerful stain removal formula begins to work as soon as you apply it to the fabric, and the manufacturer claims it will completely remove a stain in just 30 seconds. However, the instructions for use take this claim into account and advise re-applying if the stain is still there one minute after application.
The upholstery cleaner removes many more substances than dirt. You can use it to remove tomato sauce, wine, vomit, ketchup, mud, or even blood. The cleaner has a fresh smelling scent that quickly eliminates pet odors. The two-pack of cleaner only includes a single sprayer for both bottles to reduce plastic waste and to keep its cost low
These Weiman wipes leave leather moisturized, smooth, and fresh. The combined formula in the wipes is entirely non-toxic, containing a UVX-15 sunscreen and six natural oils to soften and restore leather, and to keep it safe from harmful UV radiation.
This product seals and protects your leather upholstery and removes dirt, soil, and oily residues that build up over time. You can apply these pre-moistened wipes to smooth, finished leather products, like leather upholstery, purses, shoes, boots, briefcases, or handbags. However, you should never use this product on unfinished leather, suede, or nubuck leather.
The Weiman Upholstery & Fabric Cleaner can bring a fresh, clean look to your fabrics without damaging delicate material. It penetrates deep into the fibers to effectively lift dust, dirt, and other allergens. The formula also helps protect the fabric from oil, dirt, and other debris, plus dissolves stains and leaves a fresh, clean scent.
The upholstery cleaner is non-toxic and safe for pets and kids. This eco-friendly product is a multipack, including two 12-ounce bottles, so you can keep a surplus of cleaner on hand for whenever you need it.
If you need a vacuum cleaner to clean the surface and crevices of your upholstered furniture properly, consider this Eureka vacuum. It weighs just 10 pounds, but with smooth gliding wheels and five height adjustment levels, you won’t have to lift it very often. The vacuum comes with an upholstery brush, a dusting brush, a 7-inch long crevice tool, and a 6-inch wide nozzle allowing you to clean various upholstered furniture, carpets, stairs, and curtains.
All of the accessories are stored on the vacuum, so you needn’t store or search for them before cleaning. The powerful motor and strong suction can easily clean your upholstery, filling the extra-large, 4.1L capacity dust and dirt collector. With this upholstery vacuum, you also get a 25-foot power cord and a 7-foot suction hose.
After you vacuum your upholstery, you should steam clean the fabric with an upholstery steam cleaner such as the McCulloch Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner. The cleaner blasts 212-degree F steam, at a pressure of 43 pounds per square inch (PSI). This pressurized steam seeps into the fabric to force the dirt and debris trapped in the deepest fibers of your furniture to rise to the surface where it can be suctioned into the steam cleaning tank.
The steam cleaner sits on three wheels and weighs only 10 pounds. It has a long 15-foot power cord and a 9-foot steam hose so you can move freely around the room. The steam from the cleaner is deadly to lice, fleas, bedbugs, and 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria, so it leaves your upholstered furniture free of biological contaminants. With this cleaner, you also get a floor mop, mop pads, a nylon brush, a brass brush, a scrub pad, and a squeegee so you can do a variety of steam cleaning jobs around the home.
FAQs About Your New Upholstery Cleaner
Continue reading below to find the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about upholstery cleaners.
Q. How do you clean leather upholstery?
When you clean leather upholstery, you can use a moisturizing leather upholstery cleaner or leather upholstery wipes. Be sure not to overwet the leather or rinse the fabric afterward. Instead, use your chosen cleaner, take a soft, microfiber cloth (or leather wipe) and gently scrub the leather. This will clean the fabric, and it should also help to condition the leather so that it looks and feels much better.
Q. How do you use a vacuum upholstery cleaner?
Cleaning upholstery with a vacuum is not difficult, but you do want to be careful so that you do not use too much force and accidentally rip or damage the upholstery. Connect the upholstery attachment to your vacuum and turn it on to begin sucking up visible dirt or hair. Go over the furniture’s surface, then remove the cushions (if possible) and vacuum underneath. The last area to vacuum is down any cracks or crevices in the furniture. This is especially important because most debris will accumulate in these difficult to access spots.
Q. How do you use an upholstery steam cleaner?
Before you steam clean furniture, you should always vacuum and surface clean the upholstery so you don’t merely move dirt around. Once the upholstery is ready for steam cleaning, take the handheld unit or the hose attachment and spray the surface of your furniture with steam. Gently, but firmly, drag the suction hose over the damp areas so that you can suck up the collected dirt and extra water from the fabric.
Repeat as necessary until you are satisfied with the result, but always ensure you give your upholstery enough time to properly dry before you apply more steam. Too much steam can result in water damage. Go slow and make sure to refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations for use.