How To Clean Upholstery Without A Machine?

Mechanical upholstery cleaning machines can make washing your furniture upholsteries a breeze.

Sadly, these machines are usually expensive and can become a big hassle for many people because of the complexity of using them. Knowing how to clean upholstery without a machine is important because of these reasons.

Few Upholstery Cleaning Ideas

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There are many ways to clean upholstery without a machine. As long as the ingredients you use to clean your furniture cover are safe for the fabric, there’s nothing to worry about.

There’s always some room for experimentation, so you should try different materials to see which one suits your fabrics best.

However, let’s now see some commonly used techniques for upholstery cleaning.

How to Clean Upholstery with Upholstery Shampoo?


There are shampoos designed to work with upholstery fabrics. You can get one of these from the market. Look for the name “hand shampoo” or “upholstery shampoo” on the packaging to make sure this is the right shampoo.

The shampoo we typically use for hair is different and must not be used for fabrics by any means.

To start, make a shampoo-water mixture in a bucket. There are no fixed guidelines on how much to use. See the shampoo’s packaging to know the correct amount of water and shampoo to formulate the right consistency.

Mix both of these wells and apply the mixture onto the upholstery fabric using a sponge. Just soak the fabric enough, don’t overdo it. Cover all the surface area with the mixture and its suds (foams). Once all the areas are covered with the mixture, rub the excess shampoo with a dry, clean cloth.

One thing to remember here is the fact that you’re using a lot of water and shampoo on the fabric, which actually softens it in the process. And this combination can easily damage the fabric if they’re not handled correctly. So, for this reason, only rub slowly. This way, you won’t risk damaging the thin fabric surface.

How to Clean Upholstery with a Dry Cleaner?

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Dry cleaning is the process of cleaning a fabric without washing it with water, soap, or other cleaning materials. All you need is a dry cleaning chemical that is preferably safe to use with upholstery and not harmful gases.

Dip a piece of clean cloth in the chemical and soak it up. Rub the soaked cloth on upholstery fabric until all the surface is covered with the chemical thoroughly. Repeat the soaking a few times until all the surface area is evenly soaked.

Take a clean, dry cloth and dry off the excess liquid from the surface with it. Let the upholstery dry for a few hours to become clean again.

How these liquid dry-cleaning chemicals works are interesting. When this chemical is used on a fabric, it bonds to its dirt molecules and takes them off of the fabric. So, when you soak the fabric with the liquid, the liquid’s molecules absorb the dirt in them.

When you rub off the excess liquid with a cloth, you’re actually soaking the dirt too. As the rest of the water evaporates, so does the dirt too. That’s basically the process.

Best Dry Cleaning Solvent for Upholstery

Chemical Guys CWS20316 Foaming Citrus Fabric Clean Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner

Some commercially available cleaning solvents work well with upholstery. You don’t have to go for a fixed brand here, but keep a few things in mind to make the best purchase possible.

They come in a variety of names such as fabric cleaner, upholstery cleaning agent, fabric protector, etc. Don’t choose a random commercial fabric cleaner for your upholstery. Since fabrics come in different shapes and consistencies, the cleaner should be different as well.

Try to see an “upholstery safe” sign on the packaging to ensure it is safe to use on furniture or couch covers. Also, some cleaners are harsh, while some are very soft on the fabric. You should check the product description to know which fabric types it suits best and buy accordingly.

Related: How to Clean Couch Upholstery

Cleaner for Car Interior Plastic


You can use soap or detergent mixed with water with a sponge to clean your car’s interior plastic. Fancy cleaners aren’t always necessary. But if you insist, then you can use any good quality car plastic cleaning agent.


Now let’s move on to some commonly asked questions.

How to clean upholstery with baking soda?

Baking soda and some vinegar could be a real lifesaver when you need to clean your upholstery urgently. The process is actually quite simple.

Start with brushing the upholstery fabric to remove large dust particles and soften the hard ones. Next, cover the whole surface of the upholstery by sprinkling it with some baking soda. Let it sit for a few minutes. After that, take a brush and rub off all the soda from the fabric.

Now, create a mixture of 1 cup of warm water, 1 tablespoon of baking soda, and 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Soak a piece of cloth in the mixture and wipe the fabric with the wet cloth. Wipe slowly and gently for a while. Let it dry afterward, and the job is complete.

Baking soda is actually a nice chemical for many fabric types. It’s not too soft that it won’t clean the dirt bits nor too harsh that it’ll damage the upholstery fabric.

How to deep clean upholstered chairs?

You can follow the baking soda method mentioned above in the previous question. The process is actually the same.

How to clean fabric sofas without water?

A dry cleaning chemical can be a good alternative if you don’t want to use water to clean fabric sofa covers. This chemical doesn’t put a strain on the fabric, which could sometimes be the case while using water to clean fabrics.

How do you clean couch cushions that cannot be removed?

There’s a type of cleaner known as enzyme cleaner. You can use it for non-removable couch cushions or pillow cushions.

The process of using it is similar to using dry cleaning chemicals. Rub a cloth soaked with an enzyme cleaner and wipe the fabric with it. Now, do a second wipe with a water-soaked cloth and let it dry after. The enzyme cleaner works well in removing dirt and dust particles quickly without messing with the fabric.


You now have some good ideas on how to clean upholstery without a machine. We mentioned a few methods in this guide, but you can find many cleaning techniques on the internet. Choose whatever works best for you. You can make your unique cleaner too. But you have to spend some time experimenting first.

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