How To Remove Stains From Upholstered Furniture

All it takes is one messy kid, one clumsy dinner guest or one rebellious pet, and you can kiss your upholstered furniture’s stain-free state goodbye. Thankfully, we can all learn how to turn that “goodbye” into “see you later” with some smart tips and tricks!

Today’s foolproof method is coming to us from Howcast. They’re showing us the best ways to save your upholstery from grease, spaghetti, peanut butter, berry, beverage and just about every kind of food stain you can imagine.

Even better, their method mainly uses common household materials you probably already have. Read on for our step-by-step breakdown of the stain-removing method, then check out the video for a demonstration and even more tips.

Basic Food Stain Removal for Upholstered Furniture


  • Clean white cloths
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • White vinegar
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Baking soda or cornstarch
  • A vacuum with a hose attachment
  • Dry-cleaning solvent

Note: Dry-cleaning solvent is probably the most uncommon material on this list, but don’t worry! It’s available online if you can’t find it in your local store.


  1. As immediately as possible, blot the stain with one of your clean white cloths. You probably already know, but it bears repeating— the more time goes by, the harder a stain becomes to remove.
  2. Double-check any instructions tags on your upholstered furniture, just to make sure this method will work for your particular piece.
  3. Test an inconspicuous part of the furniture with your chosen cleaning materials, just to make sure the material can handle it.
  4. Select your correct cleaning mixture for the stain:
    • For most food and beverage stains: Swish 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid into 2 cups of cooled water
    • For berry stains: Mix 1 tablespoon of white vinegar with ⅔ cup rubbing alcohol
    • For stains from gravy, margarine, mayonnaise, cooking oil, or butter: Use baking soda or cornstarch, then dry-cleaning solvent and skip to step 7.
  5. Dab the suds from your chosen mixture onto the stain with another clean white cloth, and blot until the liquid is absorbed.
  6. Repeat step 5 until the stain has disappeared, then dab with cold water and blot dry.
  7. For grease stains, simply sprinkle the stain with the baking soda or cornstarch, then let it sit to soak up the stain. Vacuum it up, then apply the dry-cleaning solvent and blot.

Need even more tips for those toughest, most-set-in of stains? Be sure to click on and watch Howcast’s video below to learn how to translate the code on upholstered furniture instruction tags, the correct way to clean slipcovers, the staining exceptions to the method outlined above, and even a fun fact about Victorian upholstery!

What do you think of Howcast’s method? Is it similar to the one you’ve relied on in the past? What other kinds of stains do you want to know how to clean? Are there any miracle products or other tips you’d like to pass on? Share with us and your fellow readers!