We updated this article in September 2022 to ensure all picks tested and vetted by the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab were available, in stock and correctly priced.
The upholstered furniture in your den, dining and living areas is made for, well, living. And with all that wear and tear, it’s bound to get dirty and stained, thanks to pet accidents, spills and other messes. Regular vacuuming with the upholstery tool is a must to remove dust and loose dirt from the fabric’s surface, but sometimes your fabric sofa, chairs or bed needs a deeper clean.
Here at the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab, our experts rigorously test all kinds of cleaning products and appliances, from carpet cleaners to steam mops. When testing upholstery cleaners our experts assess categories such as ease of use and overall performance including how well they remove dirt and grime. During testing for upholstery cleaning machines, we evaluated attachments, run time and how easy they are to maintain and more.
Our top picks:
Below, you will find our picks for the best upholstery cleaners available on the market and tips on how to safely clean a fabric couch. These are the best upholstery cleaners in Good Housekeeping tests for fabric and leather upholstery.
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Best Overall Upholstery Cleaner
Multi-Purpose Portable Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner
Best Upholstery Cleaner Spray for Stains
INSTAclean Stain Remover
Best Upholstery Cleaner for Pet Stains
Professional Stain & Odor Stain Remover
Best Upholstery Cleaner for Delicate Fabrics
Carpet & Rug Dry Cleaner
Best Upholstery Cleaner for Leather
Leather Care Kit
Best Upholstery Cleaner for Red Wine Stains
Red Wine Stain Remover
Best Upholstery Cleaner for Pet Hair
Large and Wide Surface Roller
How we test upholstery cleaners
When we test upholstery cleaners, we evaluate how well they remove food, dirt and oily stains we’ve applied to a variety of typical upholstery fabrics. We also check for any fabric damage the cleaners may cause, how easy the cleaners are to use and rinse away, how clear the directions are and for any safety or cautionary warnings that must be on the product’s label. For upholstery cleaning machines, we evaluate them as we do any appliance by following the owner’s manual and testing all the attachments and included cleaning formulas to assess performance, easy of use, run time, capacity and how easy they are to maintain and story.
How to safely clean a fabric couch
Upholstery is trickier to clean than carpet because it can be made from a wide variety of fibers and fabrics. Some, like synthetic microfiber or cotton chenille, can be cleaned with most products. Silk damask, on the other hand, would be damaged when cleaned with a water-based method. So before you grab just any cleaner from your cabinet and start spraying, it’s a must to know what type of cleaning process is safest for the fabric covering your chair. Check the care tag on your upholstered furniture before you clean it so you know exactly how to clean your couch. A quick cheat sheet:
- Code W: Water-based cleaning solutions are safe to use
- Code S: Only solvent-based cleaning solutions are safe to use
- Code WS: Both water- and solvent-based cleaning solutions are safe to use
- Code X: Neither water- nor solvent-based cleaning solutions are safe to use. Only vacuuming or professional cleaning
Why trust Good Housekeeping?
Carolyn Forté has tested and reviewed hundreds of vacuum cleaners, carpet cleaners, mops and other major (and minor) home appliances as executive director of the Home Care Lab. She oversees all testing done in the Cleaning Lab and recently tested all of the handheld, stick, upright and canister vacuums that were submitted for consideration in the most recent Cleaning and Organizing Awards.
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