How to clean an armchair

How to clean an armchair

The arm of a leather armchair being carefully cleaned.

When it comes to any soft furnishing that cannot simply be thrown in the washing machine, removing stains or simply cleaning dirty areas of fabric can prove challenging. Upholstered armchairs are no different. With a number of factors to consider, including fabric type and the area of the chair you want to clean, doing your research before you get to work is a good idea.

To help you clean your upholstered armchair quickly, effectively and without causing any costly damage, this handy guide will tell you everything you need to know.

How to clean a fabric armchair

Although the methods needed to clean your armchair will vary slightly depending on the fabric it is made from, as a rule there are five main steps to effectively and safely cleaning any upholstered armchair. These are:

  • Step1: Vacuum

Before you do anything else, removing any loose dust, dirt and debris from your chair is essential. While this can be done with a soft-bristled brush and dustpan, the easiest and most effective way is to use a vacuum cleaner. Using a small vacuum attachment that allows you to get into all the nook and crannies of your upholstered chair, start with the larger areas such as the seat, back and arms before moving into any corners and folds where dust and dirt tend to collect. Remember to also vacuum the underside of the chair - it is important to cover every inch of the item of furniture, especially if you are cleaning it with the aim of removing any nasty smells.

  • Step 2: Spot clean

Once you have finished vacuuming, your attention should switch to removing any visible stains on your armchair. To do this, you’ll need to identify the type of stain you’re dealing with. For the most part, stains can be removed with white vinegar. To try this, simply blot the stain with a clean microfibre cloth dipped in a solution made up for equal parts vinegar and tepid water. To remove any lingering vinegar smell, follow this up by dabbing the area with a mixture of lightly scented mild detergent and water. Finally leave the area to air-dry naturally.

For more stubborn stains, stronger, shop-bought spot cleaning products may be required. However, always make sure you check your armchairs label, if possible, before using these products. Patch testing the product on a small area of the chair’s fabric that is generally out of sight is also a good idea.

  • Step 3: Wipe down the fabric

For deeper cleans and to refresh fabric armchairs, you may need to scrub it. To do this, mix a solution made up of one tablespoon of liquid laundry detergent and one litre of warm water. Next, completely soak a new microfibre cloth in the solution and then wring it out until it is no longer dripping. This damp cloth can now be used to gently wipe down the entire surface of your chair. If the chair is particularly dirty, you may need to replace your cloth as you progress.

  • Step 4: Rinse

Once the chair has been scrubbed and the solution has been allowed to settle into the fabric for several minutes, it’s time to rinse it off. To do this, take a new microfiber cloth and repeat Step Three, this time only soaking your cloth in regular water with no detergent. This process will need to be repeated until no soapy residue can be seen or felt on the surface of your chair.

  • Step 5: Dry

Finally, before you can sit in your freshly cleaned armchair, you must ensure it is completely dry. There are three ways to do this. You can either:

  • Open nearby windows and allow it to naturally air-dry where it is. This is best in warmer climates.
  • Take the chair outside and allow it to air-dry in a shady area. While this can leave your chair smelling fresh, beware of the wind - dust and debris can undo all of your hard work.
  • Use small flannels or paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible by hand, before leaving it overnight to air-dry in a heated room. This is best in colder climates.

How to clean a leather armchair

Leather armchairs can be cleaned in much the same way as fabric chairs. However, be warned that when cleaning a leather item of furniture, excess liquid - be that water, vinegar cleaning solution or soap water - can leave marks if left to sit or not properly dried. For this reason, all liquids should be applied very carefully when dealing with leather.

Additionally, in order to keep your leather armchair in the best condition possible, it can be a good idea to use an approved leather cream/conditioner after a clean. These products are designed to restore lost moisture and suppleness following a clean, and can help protect the colour and texture of the leather.

How to clean armchair arms

The arms of any armchair tend to be the area of the item that receives the most wear and tear, meaning that they often need cleaning the most. Fortunately, most arms can be cleaned in exactly the same way as the rest of the chair. This process, which involves vacuuming, spot cleaning, scrubbing, rinsing and drying, may need to be repeated several times in order to fully clean especially dirty arms, however, ultimately this method should work safely and effectively.

If you have noticed that the arms of your favourite armchair are becoming dirtier than the rest of the chair, there are ways to protect these areas. Armchair covers , also known as antimacassars, are typically designed from lace, polyester or cotton and can be placed on the arms of a chair, as well as the headrest, to prevent these areas becoming dirty. These simple inventions, which can also be decorative, can cut down how regularly a full armchair clean is required.