How to Clean a Fabric Ottoman

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Clean a fabric-based ottoman by vacuuming it regularly to keep it free of dust, debris, and pet fur and dander. Spot-clean as needed, following recommendations on the care tag.


Cleaning the Ottoman

Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum cleaner

  • Soft cloths

  • Baking soda

Step 1: Vacuum the Ottoman

Vacuum the ottoman thoroughly with the vacuum cleaner's brush attachment. If the ottoman has a storage compartment, vacuum the inside as well, if it is upholstered, or wipe it out with a soft cloth if the inside is made of wood or a hard material.

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Step 2: Vacuum or Wipe the Bottom

Flip the ottoman on its side to access the bottom. If the bottom is upholstered with the same fabric or is durable, vacuum it as well. If the bottom area is too delicate to vacuum, wipe it with a soft cloth. Wipe down the feet or legs on the ottoman as well, if it has any.


Step 3: Remove Odors

Freshen the ottoman by sprinkling the top with baking soda, then vacuuming the powder away after 15 to 30 minutes. This helps get rid of pet odors and other odors trapped in the fabric.


Remove pet hair in a pinch by rubbing the fabric while wearing a rubber glove. The glove gathers all the hair into an easy-to-manage roll. A sticky lint roller or piece of tape wrapped sticky-side-out around your fingers also removes hair quickly.

Deeper Cleaning

Check the care tag on the ottoman for a care code or for specific cleaning instructions, as these vary based on the type of fabric covering the piece.

  • Code W means a water-based cleaner, such as mild soap and water or an upholstery shampoo, may be used to spot-clean the fabric.
  • Code S means a solvent-based cleaner, such as a dry-cleaning solvent, must be used -- never water.
  • Code W-S means both water- and solvent-based cleaners can be used.
  • Code X -- although unlikely on a durable ottoman -- indicates that no liquids should be used to clean the upholstery. Instead, use only dry methods such as a brush or vacuum cleaner.


How to Spot Clean

  • Remove spilled substances as quickly as possible by blotting -- not rubbing -- thin liquids such as drinks.
  • Treat other spills such as food substances by scooping up as much as possible with a spoon, scooping from the outside edges of the spill toward the center to avoid spreading the problem.
  • Clean Code W or W-S fabric by applying a mild liquid soap or upholstery shampoo with a damp cloth. For a larger stain, mix the soap and water into a foamy froth; then apply it to the spot. Rub the spot from the outside edges toward the center of the affected area. A soft-bristled brush such as a toothbrush may be used to scrub the fabric. Wipe the soap away with a damp cloth afterwards; then allow the ottoman to dry before using it.
  • Spot clean Code S fabrics with a dry-cleaning solvent or by brushing the stain as much as possible instead of applying harsh chemicals.


Avoid purchasing upholstered items with Code S or Code X, so the fabric can be cleaned more easily, without toxic chemicals. Test any liquid-based cleaners in an inconspicuous area first before applying them to the top of an ottoman.



Kathy Adams is an award-winning writer. She is an avid DIYer that is equally at home repurposing random objects into new, useful creations as she is at supporting community gardening efforts and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals. She's written numerous DIY articles for paint and decor companies, as well as for Black + Decker, Hunker, SFGate, Landlordology and others.