Cleaning upholstery with a steam cleanerSteam cleaning upholstery will not only keep furniture looking clean and fresh, it will extend the life of the upholstery itself.

Sofas and chairs can be kept looking new, even after many years of daily use and abuse.

While vacuuming upholstery can help keep it clean, the results will never be anywhere near what steam cleaning can produce. Still, in order to get these results you have to make sure you use the proper methods.

This article will present several easy to follow steps that will ensure you use the proper methods when steam cleaning your upholstery, thus guaranteeing optimum results.

Step 1: Know your fabric

The development of steam cleaning technology has helped to produce units that are far gentler than their forbears.

This means that more delicate upholsteries can now be steam cleaned than ever before. That said, not every fabric can be steam cleaned.

Older, antique upholsteries, for example, need to be handled by a professional.

Additionally, other materials may not be capable of handling the heat of steam cleaning without bleeding their colours or having other negative effects.

Reading the tags of your upholstery will tell you whether it is steam cleanable or not. If you don’t have tags, contact the seller or an upholstery expert for advice.

Step 2: Know your machine

Different machines are designed to be used in different ways. That said, it is vitally important to ALWAYS read the user manual that comes with the machine.

Be sure to know the precise directions for steam cleaning upholstery, and follow those instructions to the letter.

If you don’t have the manual, contact the manufacturer for a replacement before attempting to use the machine.

Using the machine incorrectly can result in damage to the machine, as well as damage to your furniture.

Step 3: Test any chemicals

For those steam cleaners that use chemicals or shampoos, be sure to test a spot on the upholstery to see if the chemicals are safe to use.

The last thing you want to do is find out the chemicals cause discolouration after cleaning the whole piece of furniture.

The best spot for testing is the underside of a cushion or the back of a chair—someplace inconspicuous in case the chemicals do harm.

Step 4: Clean one area at a time

When you clean a piece of furniture one area at a time, not only do you guarantee that you don’t miss any spots, but you also allow the upholstery to dry more evenly.

Going over the whole piece without a plan can result in certain areas having more exposure to the steam than others, causing those areas to be wetter and requiring additional time to dry.

Being thorough and meticulous will help ensure you get the best results from your efforts.

Step 5: Allow plenty of time to dry

Even though steam cleaners suck away most of the moisture, plenty of air drying is still required before the furniture can be put back to use.

Make sure you allow plenty of time for the upholstery to be thoroughly dry. Using fans will help to speed up the process, as will air conditioning or open windows.

When cleaning cushions, it is best to clean one side at a time, allowing the clean side to dry before cleaning the other side.


As with most projects, the key to achieving the best results is to use common sense.

The five points presented in this article will help you to know the smart, proper techniques for steam cleaning upholstery.

Now you can have your furniture looking like it just came from the showroom!