How to Clean an Upholstered Recliner

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Your favorite worn-in recliner is the perfect way to kick up your feet at the end of the day and watch your favorite shows, but those cozy hours you log in the best seat in the house often lead to crumbs, spills, sweat, and other gunk that can make the upholstery smelly and stained. Regularly cleaning your living room seating keeps it looking and smelling fresh.


Know the Upholstery Type

Upholstered furniture can have one of four types of cleaning methods based on the type of fabric used. Those types are:

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  • W:​ This type of upholstery is compatible with water-based cleaning methods, including steam cleaners.

  • S:​ If your recliner has S as the cleaning code, you can only use solvent-based cleaning products.

  • WS:​ A WS upholstered piece is the most versatile because you can use either water-based cleaners or solvents on the fabric.

  • X:​ Don't attempt to use any type of cleaning products on this type of upholstery, as it requires professional dry cleaning.


You can find the cleaning code on the tag of your recliner. It's often located underneath the recliner unless the chair has removable cushions. On furniture with removable cushions, the tag is often located beneath the cushions. Familiarize yourself with your recliner's type of fabric to ensure you use the right type of cleaners.

Vacuum the Recliner

Your vacuum cleaner is an easy way to keep crumbs, dirt, pet hair, and other dry debris from accumulating on your upholstered recliner. Vacuuming is safe for any type of fabric, even dry-clean-only recliners.


Grab the crevice attachment to dig deep along the creases of the recliner. The upholstery attachment works well for the surface of the cushions. Start with the back of the recliner and work down to the bottom to vacuum all surfaces.

Spot Clean as Needed

When you notice something on your recliner, clean the spot immediately to prevent it from soaking in or becoming a permanent stain. The type of cleaner you use depends on the fabric type. If your recliner has an S on the tag, choose a solvent-based upholstery cleaner and follow the instructions to clean the spot. Avoid using water to clean the fabric, as it can discolor the upholstery or leave water marks.


If your recliner has a W or WS code on the tag, add a little dish soap to warm water to create a soapy cleaning solution. Dip a microfiber cloth in the soapy water and wring out the excess. Then, dab at the spot gently without getting the fabric too wet. Scrubbing aggressively can damage the fabric and leave marks on the recliner. When you get the stain out, blot the spot with a dry cloth to soak up the extra water.


Shampoo Your Recliner

You can also shampoo upholstered furniture if it's compatible with water-based cleaners. Using a carpet and upholstery cleaner, shampoo the fabric from top to bottom. Most units let you spray water with the cleaning solution onto the fabric and suck it up using the upholstery attachment. This can remove spills and stains from the fabric while leaving it smelling fresher.



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