Every home or office has furniture – couches, chairs, ottomans and the like, which are used daily in our life. If you want to keep enjoying them in the years to come and have a healthy environment, you need to regularly clean and maintain the upholstery.

1. What Is Upholstery?

Upholstery is the textile used to cover furniture to make them comfortable for seating and usage. It can also refer to curtains and drapery, as they are made from similar fabric. Upholstery comes in a variety of different materials and colours. In this sense upholstery cleaning is the act of maintaining and protecting the fabric from dirt and stains.

2. What Is Included in the Professional Upholstery Cleaning Services?

Contrary to common beliefs, you can’t professionally clean your upholstery by yourself. The reason being the majority of people lack the necessary knowledge, tools and detergents. The delicate process includes the following steps:

  • Inspection – the technicians check the fabric for stains and damage.
  • Vacuuming – using a professional machine, the dust, debris, fibres and small particles are removed.
  • Spot cleaning – if necessary particular stains are treated separately with specialised detergents compliant with the type of fabric.
  • Deep-cleaning – depending on the manufacturer’s requirements, the upholstery undergoes professional treatment.
  • Additional protection – If possible and the customer wants, the fabric is coated with a protective layer. It prevents dirt from embedding and prolongs the life of the textile.

3. What Are the Perks of Professional Cleaning Services?

Professional upholstery cleaning will provide you with several benefits that you can’t achieve if you tend to your furniture on your own.

  • professional upholstery cleaningProlongate the life of your upholstery – Due to the specialised detergents and equipment used by expert cleaners, they can clean the fabric without damaging it. No loose threads or thinning of the material, au contraire, your furniture will look well maintained and will last longer. The professional solvents will coat the fibres with a protective layer, making them stronger and able to uphold intensive usage.
  • Health benefits – Dust is one of the biggest obstacles when it comes to health issues. From asthma to allergies, it can cause various problems. It gets embedded in your upholstery, and regular vacuum cleaners usually can’t remove it. However, professional cleaning equipment is designed to extract even the smallest particles, leaving the fabric looking and smelling fresh. You can read more about the negative effects of dust here.
  • Your upholstery will receive adequate care – Different fabrics react to the same detergent differently. That is the cause for the majority of upholstery damages. Professionals have the necessary knowledge and tools to remove the stains and maintain your upholstery in pristine condition.
  • You will save money and time – This one is easy. Why waste time to scrub your couch when you can call someone to do it better than you? In addition, there is a high risk you would damage the fabric and have to buy a new piece of furniture, thus losing money. It is more budget-friendly to hire an upholstery cleaning company from time to time.

4. How to Choose the Right Upholstery Cleaning Company?

Do not rush, calling the first agency you see. Spend a couple of minutes researching and comparing. The following factors will give you a clear perspective of what kind of company, you are searching for:

  • Well-maintained website – Avoid dodgy sites with an outdated look or just one page containing all of the information. This is an indication that it is a scammer. Good upholstery cleaners have a well-organised site, with pictures and valuable information. They are not afraid to show their work, and in some images, you can see the tools or detergents they use.
  • No hidden expenses – Scan the website for any information about additional costs. Then call the company and confirm with them that there is no shady billing going on. Be specific when you require information, as sometimes misunderstandings about the number and type of furniture can happen.
  • Reasonably priced – Seek for the middle grounds. If the prices are too low, you will most likely get bad services and won’t be happy with the state of your furniture. High costs are unnecessary. Unless you want to book a high-quality cleaning for an expensive designer or vintage item, prices should be two or three times above the industry average.
  • Good reputation – This one is the easiest to determine. Just see what people are saying about the company. Read the reviews, check the website for certificates and other accreditation. Make sure the company is legit, and the technicians know what they are doing.
  • Customer service – First impressions are important, so examine your initial interaction with the company’s front desk. If the coordinator is helpful, gives you detailed information and is overall positive, you can expect good customer service throughout the whole process.

Disclaimer: Keep in mind that the way your upholstery is cleaned depends on the information you give in your initial query. Sometimes the insufficient services have nothing to do with the company but are due to a misunderstanding in the preliminary negotiations.

5. What Is the Cost of Getting Your Upholstery Professionally Cleaned?

The final costs of professionally cleaning your upholstery depend on many factors. You need to consider them when requesting a quote and booking service.

  • Fabric type – The way your furniture is washed is affected by the upholstery fabric. Different materials require different techniques. For example, leather or wool can’t be steam cleaned. The detergents used during the cleaning process also vary in accordance with the cleansing method. For designer pieces, your cleaners need to use a high-end professional solvent to protect your expensive upholstery.
  • The number of pieces – Usually, the price is determined by how many items need to be cleaned. The cost of getting your armchair washed will be different from the one for your couch. The bigger the piece, the higher the cost is.
  • Time and date – If you wish to get your upholstery cleaned during the holidays or off-work hours, be prepared to pay extra.
  • Particular services – Sometimes, a client can ask for things like applying Scotchgard on their curtains or sofa. This is an additional service and is not part of the regular cleaning process. Thus, it reflects on the final cost.
  • Extra expenses – Things like moving large pieces of furniture, for example, can be perceived as special services, and you will be billed for them.

Below you can see, what are the average prices for an upholstery cleaning in London. Keep in mind that the cost varies from company to company.

Upholstery type Cost
Two-seated sofa £25
Three-seated sofa £35
Four-seated sofa £50
Armchair £20
Dining room chair £5
Curtain cleaning – half-length £25
Curtain cleaning – full-length £40
Single mattress sanitising £20
Double mattress sanitising £25
King size mattress sanitising £30

To be billed adequately, you must provide your cleaning company with detailed information about all 5 factors:

  • what type is your upholstery;
  • how many pieces of furniture you need to be cleaned;
  • do you want particular services;
  • do you require additional work from your technicians;
  • when do you want the services to be performed.

6. What Are the Different Upholstery Cleaning Methods?

There are many ways to clean your upholstery. The different methods vary depending on the type of fabric, what you want to achieve and what tools and equipment are needed.

6.1 Steam Cleaning

Also known as hot water extraction method, this technique utilises the power of steam to clean and sanitise your upholstery. It removes stains, dust and dirt together with the excess moisture leaving your furniture almost completely dry. The process is effective both when using detergents and not, which makes it eco and budget-friendly. Steam cleaning is an ideal solution for dirty upholstery, and if you want to know more about it, you can check our detailed guide on the hot extraction method.

professional deep cleaning upholstery6.2 Carbonation Cleaning

This method also utilises heat and moisture, however, a specialised machine releases millions of carbonated bubbles. Once they reach the fibres, they explode, thus extracting the deeply embedded dirt. The process leaves a protective layer on the fabric that minimises the future accumulation of dust and grime. Small amounts of the carbonated cleaning solution can be used to wash a large number of different upholstery.

6.3 Encapsulation Cleaning

A low-moisture cleaning method, it is fast and effective. Chemically safe solutions are sprayed, by hand on your upholstery. They break the bonds between the dirt and the fibres. Then everything is vacuumed, leaving your furniture fresh and clean. Polymers are added to the surfactants, making the encapsulation cleaners superior to regular upholstery shampoos. These additional ingredients ensure good final results.

6.4 Foam Cleaning

A foaming shampoo is applied by hand on your upholstery. And afterwards, you just need to vacuum the surface. It is an easy cleaning method that doesn’t include lots of water or special equipment. That is what makes it a popular choice. However, bear in mind, it is not a deep-cleaning method, meaning it won’t remove deeply embedded grime and dust.

6.5 Dry Cleaning

Similar to foam cleaning, this method doesn’t require professional gear. You just need a vacuum cleaner. A chemical powder is sprinkled on your upholstery, and depending on the type of detergent, you will either have to rub it or leave it to work its magic for a couple of minutes. Then vacuum the small particles, and you are done, no moisture needed. Keep in mind that this is not a deep cleaning method, and you can remove only the mild staining of the fabric.

6.6 The Difference between Deep and Surface Cleaning

Deep cleaning extracts the embedded dirt, purifying the fibres and removing the grime and dust. These techniques require professional equipment and specialise detergents. Steam, carbonation and encapsulation cleaning are all deep-cleansing methods. They all rely on a different level of moisture to properly do their job.

deep cleaning methods chartDry and foam cleaning are surface cleansing techniques, meaning both can be used to treat only the outer layer of your upholstery. You can’t use these methods to extract the dirt, but they are suitable for fabrics that can be easily damaged by water.

surface cleaning methods chart

7. How to Clean Your Upholstery Depending on Its Type?

Upholstery fibres can be natural, synthetic or semi-synthetic. Within those 3 main types, there are various kinds of fabric you can choose from. Each one has its own separate cleaning needs and requirements. If you want to take a closer look at how to clean the different types of textiles check out our guide. There we examine more than 20 different fibres.

8. How to Remove Stains from Your Upholstery?

Stain removal is a science on its own and has to be explored in detail. You need to determine what type is the spot, how old it is and what detergents to use. All this while keeping in mind that different fabrics react differently to solvents. Our London cleaning professionals have created an easy-to-read, visual guide on stain removal that you can use.

9. What Are the Biggest Upholstery Cleaning Mistakes?

We all know if we want to be healthy, our homes need to be properly tidied up. London cleaning experts reveal one of the most frequently neglected parts of the house is the furniture. Your couch can easily accumulate enormous amounts of food spills, skin flakes and hair shed from humans and pets, moisture, mould and bed bugs. Now, that sounds scary, but fear not here is what you need to avoid doing if you want to protect both your health and your home.

9.1 Skipping on Checking the Labels

Unfortunately, this mindset is widespread amongst homeowners. People often neglect to read the user guidelines, when it comes to the fabric from which their upholstery is made. In combination with not familiarising yourself with the ingredients included in the cleaning products you wish to use, you can easily destroy your expensive upholstery. Different materials have particular requirements, don’t forget that.

9.2 Use Water When You Shouldn’t

There is this myth that if you soak a stain in water long enough, it will eventually dissolve. This is wrong for a couple of reasons:

  • You can damage the fabric, as some don’t react well to moisture;
  • The excessive water will slow the drying process which can lead to the development of mould and mildew;
  • Sometimes cold water seals the stains and helps them get more persistent.
  • The same goes for hot water. The heat can strengthen the molecules and seal the dirt in the fabric.

9.3 Use the Wrong Cleaning Products

Misusing cleaning products is a more common mistake than you think. For example:

  • cleaning detergentsUsing acids like lemon juice or vinegar to clean leather.
  • Ammonia or chlorine are often put in cleaning products, but our London experts warn you even small amounts can damage pretty much all types of upholstery.
  • Avoid applying strong chemicals to natural materials like cotton or silk.
  • Remember some upholstery can be dry-cleaned only.
  • If you have a manufacturer’s cleaning kit, use it and don’t try to cheapen up by working with “alternative products.”

To avoid it, purchase specialised detergents only. There are plenty of different products focused on leather or wool washing

9.4 Forgetting to Do a Patch Test

All cleaning experts know how important it is to test the products before using them. Regardless of what the label says, accidents do happen, and you must do everything in your power to avoid them. Here is what you need to do:

  • Rub a small quantity of the product on an extra patch of your upholstery’s fabric.
  • If you don’t have any extra material, choose a place to test the cleaner on your actual furniture. It must be somewhere not easily spotted. Use very little of the chemical – one-two drops.
  • Leave it for half an hour. If there is no discolouration or other damage, you can use this cleaning product.

9.5 Using the Wrong Cleaning Tools

If you want to properly tidy up your upholstery, you need to have the proper tools.

  • Use microfibre cloths;
  • Rely on soft sponges and avoid working with the abrasive ones, especially if you are cleaning delicate fabrics;
  • Have a spare toothbrush to remove stains. However, make sure you are not using it on leather or silk.
  • Avoid brushes with hard bristles.
  • Do not use cloths or towels which tend to shed or are vibrantly coloured. Sometimes dye bleeds when in contact with some detergents. It is better to use white rags only.

9.6 Having the Wrong Cleaning Technique

To have perfect house furniture, you need to use the proper cleaning technique. Professional upholstery cleaners recommend avoiding the following when you tidy your London home:

  • Excessive scrubbing – it can damage pretty much all types of fabric, including some hard materials like wood and metal.
  • Rubbing instead of blotting – the only thing you will achieve this way is to make the stain even bigger.
  • Skip on hovering – before washing the upholstery, you must vacuum it properly to remove most of the accumulated dirt and dust.

upholstery cleaning10. What Are the Best Professional Upholstery Cleaning Tips?

Below you will find a list of tips that will help you professionally maintain your upholstery as best as possible in a home setting. According to our London experts, they will help you to prolongate the life of the fabric and keep a healthy home environment.

10.1 Vacuum the Upholstery Every Week

Vacuum your upholstery every week as part of the general cleaning. It will prevent dirt from embedding in the fabric. If you have some more time, brush the upholstery once or twice a week. This will remove any dirt that settles on the upholstery in the interval. Do not forget to use a soft-bristled brush.

10.2 Clean Spills Quickly

The best thing is to avoid spilling anything on the upholstery. And the next best thing is to clean the spill as quickly as possible. London manufacturers apply repellents to their upholstery products to prevent absorption of moisture, but it may not be enough. If you spill some liquid on the upholstery, wipe it quickly with a clean cloth. Do not rub the liquid. You may have to call in a cleaning professional to clean the spill thoroughly. You can also protect your upholstery from stains and spills with covers.

10.3 Turn the Cushions

One of the best ways to extend the life of your upholstery is to flip the cover and change the position of the cushions. This will distribute the wear and tear evenly. Switch the pillows from one side of the sofa to another (also turn them over.) Do this every week to avoid the partial wearing off of your couch.

10.4 Avoid Pollutants and Sunlight

Sunlight can cause fabrics to lose their colour and become frayed. So do not let the upholstery be in the sun for extended periods. Smoke and cooking fumes can also fade the upholstery. You may not be able to prevent it, but you can ventilate the house. Better ventilation will also help with odour control because fabrics absorb smells very easily.

10.5 Get the Upholstery Professionally Cleaned

Every few months, call in professional upholstery cleaners and have your furniture cleaned. They will bring specialised detergents and tools. Depending on what type of fabric you have, the drying off time can be anywhere from 15 minutes to a couple of hours. The dirtier the upholstery, the more difficult it is to clean it. Bear in mind that old stains are very hard to remove, as the grime is already deeply embedded in the fibres.

11. What Are the Most FAQ about Upholstery Cleaning?

As professional upholstery cleaners, we get lots of questions from our customers. So we decided to answer here the most frequently asked ones.

11.1 How Can You Tell What the Fabric of Your Sofa Is?

There are a couple of fairly easy ways. First search for the label. It is sewn to the edge of one of the cushions or glued to the bottom part of the frame. If this doesn’t help try searching online for the manufacturer based on your couch’s appearance or the shop you bought it. And lastly, ask a professional. It can be your upholstery cleaners, carpenter friends or fabric experts.

11.2 What Is the Easiest Sofa Fabric to Clean?

It depends on what your understanding of “cleaning” is. Fabrics like vinyl, PVC and even leather can be wiped down with a damp cloth. Microfibre can be maintained by regular vacuuming. However, in terms of stain removal, these fabrics can be hard to clean, as microfibre, for example, is extremely absorbent and leather doesn’t react well to moisture. Each type of upholstery can be easy to clean if you know how to do it.

11.3 How Can I Clean my Fabric Couch with Non-Removable Covers?

You need to follow these simple steps:

  • Thoroughly hover your upholstery using the correct attachment to your vacuum cleaner.
  • Inspect the fabric for stains and smudges.
  • Determine the type of spot you have and use our stain removal guide to choose the correct cleaning detergent.
  • Gently threat the spot until it is all gone.

Disclaimer: Do not attempt to deep-clean your upholstery when it is non-removable. Call a professional cleaning company, as they have the necessary equipment to extract the moisture after the deep-washing. Otherwise, you risk getting mould and mildew inside your cushions.

11.4 Can You Clean Your Upholstery in the Washing Machine?

Read the label. If the manufacturer indicates it is all right, you can undoubtedly machine wash it. Just remember to follow the strict instruction about water temperature, as you don’t want the fabric to shrink.

Is there anything more you want to know? Share your questions in the comment section below, and we will update our guide periodically with our answers. If you want to get your upholstery professionally cleaned, send us a request, and our coordinators will get back to you.


Stephanie Cooper

Stephanie is a content marketing specialist for Top Cleaners for the past several years. She has extensive experience working with cleaning companies and knows her audience. Stephanie creates engaging and useful content helping the customers of Top Cleaners with their struggles and providing them with the most accurate insight.