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How To Clean Fabric Chairs

You have put a lot of time and effort into selecting furniture for your home that matches your style, space, and budget. So, keeping it in pristine condition is a priority. Homes and the furniture in them are meant to be lived in, though, and accidents happen. The key to keeping calm when they do, and keeping your beloved pieces in tip-top shape, is knowing how to address the most common issues your furniture will face. For example, when it comes to fabric chairs, you’ll encounter stains from food and drink spills, sure, but you’ll also need to rid the upholstery fabric from everyday dirt and dust that can accumulate and age your prized pieces.

When you care for your pieces well, you can enjoy them for much longer. Reupholstering a fabric chair can be pricey, but it costs hardly anything to clean an upholstered chair, and it’s simple to do. In the case you want to know how to reupholster a chair, we’ve got you covered.

From getting rid of stains to removing regular dust and dirt, we’ll show you how to clean upholstered chairs so the fabric can look beautiful and feel fresh for a long time. 

How To Remove Stains 

When red wine escapes from its glass or someone bumps your coffee mug, it’s second nature to instantly reach for a clean cloth and scrub at the splash zone. And while it is best to act quickly to have the best chance at saving your fabric furniture from staining, you could actually make the stain worse if you act quickly in the wrong way.

Different fabrics will respond differently to the same cleaning method, and some can be irrevocably damaged if the wrong method or cleaning product is used. So, before you go spot cleaning your upholstered chair as you would a stain on your clothing or carpet, you need to do a little research. You can determine which of the following methods to use to clean upholstered chairs by looking at the label on the fabric. Each label will have one of the following codes: 

  • W: Cleanable with water-based cleaners
  • S: Cleanable with only dry, solvent-based cleaners
  • S/W: Cleanable by both water-based and dry, solvent-based cleaners.
  • X: Cleanable by vacuum cleaner only, or by a professional

Knowing your fabric is simple when you shop Inside Weather custom armchairs. We provide info on how to clean each of our unique upholsteries so you always know the best way to address spots. Additionally, every cushion and pillow features a concealed zipper for easy, practical removal and cleaning, whether you’re spot cleaning it or throwing it in the wash. 

Spot Cleaning with Water-Based Solution

If your upholstered chair is labeled with a W or an S/W, you can use the following method to remove stains. Start by adding mild, colorless dish soap to a large bowl or bucket and fill the bucket with warm water. Using a soft upholstery brush, dip the brush in the suds of the bucket, taking care not to dip it in the water. Then, sweep the brush across the fabric chair with small, gentle strokes. Then, lightly dampen a clean cloth and gently wipe the fabric down, and let it dry.

Even if your fabric can be cleaned with water-based cleaners, it’s best to use any water sparingly, which is why we suggest the suds method above, or a specific stain-remover spray.  

Spot Cleaning with Dry Solution

If your fabric chair is labeled with an S, you should avoid cleaning it with anything wet or damp. Instead, use a dry rug or fabric cleaner, which typically comes in a powder form to spot clean your chair fabric. Cover the stain with the powder and gently rub it in with a dry cloth or soft-bristled brush—too rough a hand, and you could work the stain further into the fabric. Let the solution set and sink in for as long as the directions say. Then, use a vacuum fitted with the upholstery attachment to vacuum up the powder. You can also use this dry solution method on fabric labeled with an S/W. Always read the directions on any fabric cleaner you use and follow them closely to experience the best results.  

Spot Cleaning Other Fabrics

Fabrics such as suede and leather and other “X” labeled upholsteries will require specific spot cleaning methods. For instance, you can spot clean suede fabric using a special suede-specific cleaner or white vinegar. Use a cloth to apply the cleaner directly on the spot in circles. For leather, dip a cotton swab in alcohol and dab it on the spot. When the solution has dried, use a leather cream to moisturize and buff the fabric. If your attempt to spot clean any of these fabrics fails, recruit the help of a professional to limit any potential damage to your chair. 

For any spot cleaning method you use, it’s a good idea to test it on a hidden area of the chair to ensure it won’t damage the fabric before you go to town on a stain. These same rules apply when cleaning a sofa

How To Remove Regular Dust and Dirt

Dust and dirt will collect, crumbs will drop, and hair will get caught in your chairs, no matter how often they’re used or what fabric they are made of. Keep your pieces looking, feeling, and smelling fresh by cleaning them regularly.

From time to time, break out the vacuum and use an upholstery attachment to gently vacuum your armchairs. The upholstery attachment will help loosen dirt from the fabric fibers, but if you don’t have an attachment, you can also use a stiff bristle brush on the fabric before vacuuming. 

If you have pets, you’ll likely have to add in one more step pre-vacuuming to help lift pet hair from the fabric of your chairs. You can use a furniture brush to brush the fabric or wipe it down with your hands while wearing rubber gloves. These quick tricks will detangle pet hair from the fibers of the fabric and make it easier to vacuum.

In addition to vacuuming your fabric chairs, you can also give them a gentle wipe-down with baby wipes. Baby wipes are safe to use and effective at cleaning many upholsteries, including leather, cotton, and polyester.  

How To Protect Fabric Chairs

In addition to spot cleaning (the right way) ASAP after a spill, and regularly vacuuming to get rid of dust, dirt, and hair, you can elongate the life of your fabric chairs by choosing durable, stain-resistant fabric. Yes, such fabric does exist, and it’s beautiful to boot. 

Choose Your Fabric Carefully

It’s not always the case that you fall for a fabric chair that suits your lifestyle, but it can be. An Inside Weather armchair is designed by you, including the fabric. With over a hundred choices to choose from, the shade you’ve always wanted is easy to find. But that’s not all. If you don’t want to worry about ruining your fresh armchair the first time you sit on it with anything but water, or when your pup decides to jump up and cuddle, we offer fabrics for that. We’re talkin’ stain-resistant Performance Upholsteries, Pet-friendly possibilities, and even Commercial Grade selections so your fabric can put up with your potential mischief. As you customize your armchair, you can filter your search for the ideal fabric by upholstery type to ensure you select a fabric that will suit the level of activity in your household.  

You can also find fabric-specific info on durability on every product page. Just look for the Wyzenbeek Test Method Rub Count Score, which is the North American standard of measuring abrasion resistance for fabric. The higher the score, the more the fabric can endure before showing signs of wear.

Explore The Upholstery Library to compare all of our fabric options and find the life-proof upholstery for you. 

Protect Your Upholstery

Did you know you can actually treat fabric with a protectant to make it stain-resistant? While you’ll still have to clean up spills and vacuum up dirt, a protected fabric is much more resistant when it comes to absorbing and showing stains and thus is more life-friendly. So when selecting a fabric chair, check if the fabric is pre-treated with a protective layer or if this is something you’ll have to do at home or hire out.

At Inside Weather, every upholstered element of each of our armchairs is enclosed in a water-resistant nylon casing for the ultimate protection. Even the back panel, the arms, and—of course—the pillows and cushions have this added layer of protection and comfort. This means, you don’t have to worry about spills absorbing into the fabric before you can tackle them. It makes cleaning easier and loving your fabric longer possible.

When you tailor every inch of your armchair from base to seam, you want it to last and look good throughout its entire life in your living room. So care for your custom pieces by learning how to clean them properly, and you’ll be able to enjoy them for longer.