How to Make a Homemade Upholstery Cleaner

White vinegar, dish detergent, and baking soda are some elements to make a homemade upholstery cleaner. Learn how here!
How to Make a Homemade Upholstery Cleaner

Written by Jonatan Menguez

Last update: 21 March, 2023

Furniture, walls, floors and glass get stained. This is an unavoidable fact in the daily use of all areas of the home. General cleaning helps to keep the elements in good condition, but there are stains that require special treatment, especially when it comes to textiles. Fortunately, it’s possible to make a homemade upholstery cleaner with materials that you may already have lying around at home.

Although there are commercial options, chemical formulas may contain elements that are undesirable for the different fabrics or dangerous for human contact. In addition, it’s important to know the fiber of each upholstery, because not all are prepared for the same sanitizing methods.

Discover the easiest ways to make a homemade upholstery cleaner and remove food, ink, or pet stains.

Know the fabrics to make a homemade upholstery cleaner

The best way to clean upholstery is to know which products are suitable to apply on its surface and which ones to avoid. This information is explicitly stated on the fabric itself. In general, there’s a lettered marking on the bottom of the cushions or the upholstered piece.

In cases where you can’t find it, it’ll be necessary to search on the internet according to the model of the upholstery. On the other hand, you can do a test in an inconspicuous area to evaluate how it reacts to water or other solvents.

Choose a hem of a cushion and spray with the product. Let it dry and, if there are no marks, continue with the process.

The indications on the upholstery are marked with one or two letters:

  • W: This letter means that it can be cleaned with water-based cleaners. These are the easiest fibers to work with, since almost all formulas are suitable.
  • S: Cleaning should be done with dry solvent not formulated with water-based solvents. The fibers do not react well to this liquid.
  • WS or SO: In these cases, it’d possible to apply both water-based products and dry cleaning solvents.
  • X: This is a rare but decisive mark. It means that the product is not washable, so no formula should be applied and it’s advisable to leave cleaning to a professional.

How to make a homemade upholstery cleaner

Homemade cleaners allow you to create solutions adapted to each type of fiber or the difficulty of the stain. In addition, they avoid the use of chemical products with ingredients that are more difficult to identify and use.

According to a study by the Spanish Association of Toxicology, they can be extremely dangerous if they are mistaken for drinkable liquids. Therefore, it’s always advisable to label each container to avoid poisoning.

Materials needed to make a homemade upholstery cleaner

There are many variants to make your own upholstery cleaners at home. After all, the treatment for leather is not the same as that of microfiber.

Likewise, stains generated by pets should not be cleaned in the same way as those produced by ink or food. For all the cases, it’s a good idea to have the following materials:

  • A brush
  • A vacuum cleaner
  • Dry towels
  • Olive oil
  • Castile soap
  • Carbonated water
  • Soap flakes
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Warm or hot water
  • Sodium bicarbonate
  • Dish detergent
  • Sprayer or sprayer
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Lemon essential oil
  • Microfiber cloth for dampening

Make a general homemade upholstery cleaner

An effective formula for any textile and any stain is one based on soap suds. If you don’t have the time to evaluate a specific solution, mix five tablespoons of soap flakes with half a liter of hot water. Allow it to cool and then whisk until a lot of foam is generated.

Take a brush and apply the foam on the upholstery. It’s important to use the bubbles and the foam without the liquid. Rub the mixture over the stain and then remove the excess with a damp cloth.

Jabón en escamas para hacer un limpiador de tapicería casero.
Soap flakes can serve as an ingredient for a broad application cleaner.

Microfiber upholstery

For microfiber or synthetic leather upholstery, a foaming solution that uses less liquid is also recommended. The first step is to clean the area by vacuuming to remove as much dust and dirt as possible. This extends to any upholstered surface.

Place half a liter of warm water in a bowl and this time mix with five large tablespoons of dish soap. When whisking, it will cause the same foaming effect, so repeat the action of passing a bubble brush and rubbing over the upholstery.

Clean the brush with clean water and refill it with foam as many times as necessary. Finally, remove the excess with a damp microfiber cloth and allow to dry.

A formula for leather upholstery

In this case, you must use different products, as this is a special material. In general, leather upholstery reacts well with distilled white vinegar.

Therefore, mix six large tablespoons with half a cup of olive oil. Make the formula in a spray container.

In this way, after mixing well, spray the formula on the leather in specific sectors. Apply the product and then wipe with a dry microfiber cloth. Repeat the action on the entire upholstery.

Make a homemade upholstery cleaner for cars

People spend a lot of time inside the car. Some even transport pets or eat in it.

This can cause similar stains as on home upholstery. However, there’s a specific mixture to treat dirt on carpets and textiles on the roof, seats and the entire vehicle.

However, you should note that this is not suitable for leather upholstery. For this, the solution elaborated in the previous point is the best option.

In this case, mix five tablespoons of vinegar, two tablespoons of dish detergent and half a cup of carbonated water.

Optionally, you can add drops of essential oil with your favorite fragrance to improve the internal smell of the car. Mix and spray with a spray bottle on all upholstery.

Leave on for five minutes and then spray with water. Finish with a vacuuming session to absorb dirt and moisture.

Limpiador casero para tapicería de coche.
Car upholstery can also benefit from these homemade recipes.

Fabric and leatherette upholstery cleaner

Many pieces of furniture come with textiles made of synthetic leather, linen, cotton, vinyl, or a mixture of fibers. For these cases, it’s best to apply half a cup of distilled white vinegar, liquid Castile soap, and warm water.

Pre-clean with a vacuum cleaner and, after whipping the mixture in the sprayer, spray the upholstery from top to bottom. Finish with a slightly damp microfiber cloth and let dry.

A solution with propanol

Upholstery that comes with the letter “S” in its cleaning code has a special treatment. For this type of upholstery, use two cups of isopropyl alcohol or propanol poured into a sprayer.

Always wash your upholstery with this mixture with the precaution of not having fire or ventilation nearby, since in this case, you are working with a flammable element.

Spray a little in each sector of the upholstery and rub gently with a soft bristle brush. Clean it with water, but remove as much as possible so as not to wet the surface so much. Let it dry for a few minutes and then vacuum.

Make a homemade upholstery cleaner for stubborn stains

There are some stains that are very damaging to upholstery. For example, pet urine.

If such an event occurred, it’s important to remove it as soon as possible to prevent it from penetrating the fabric. The first thing to do is to dry as much as possible, either with dry cloths or vacuum cleaner, without pressing or expanding the stain.

Then, dilute two tablespoons of vinegar in half a cup of water and wet the area. After a few seconds, dry it again.

You can also use baking soda, since it neutralizes the acid. For ink stains, it’s advisable to spray a mixture of propanol and white vinegar, and then rub with a sponge.

If you have upholstery with the letter “X” or there are stains that are very difficult to remove, you should bring it to a professional.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Almarza E, Martínez M, , Sánchezde la Torre C.  Análisis químicos realizados en casos de intoxicaciones por detergentes y limpiadores. Revista de Toxicología [Internet]. 2002;19(2):79-84. Recuperado de:
  • Cáceres Espitia JJ, Caycedo Lozano L, Trujillo Suárez DM. Efecto bactericida del ácido acético presente en el vinagre, una alternativa a desinfectantes sintéticos o químicos. Revisión sistemática. bol.redipe [Internet]. 13 de enero de 2022 [citado 20 de enero de 2023];11(1):440-51. Disponible en:
  • Graziano MU, Graziano KU, Pinto FMG, Bruna CQM, Queiroz RQ. Lascala CA. Eficacia de la desinfección con alcohol al 70% (p/v) de superficies contaminadas sin limpieza previa. Rev. Latino-Am. Enfermagem [Internet]. mar.-abr. 2013. Disponible en:
  • José Manuel Perdigones Hita. Limpieza del mobiliario interior. IC Editorial, 2021. Extraído de:
  • López-Naranjo F, Sosa-Martínez A. B, Altagracia- Martínez M, Ochoa-Chico J. M, , Córdova-Moreno R.  Modelo educativo para el estudio toxicológico de  productos de limpieza de uso comercial. Revista Mexicana de Ciencias Farmacéuticas [Internet]. 2015;46(1):33-40. Recuperado de:

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.