How to Disinfect Furniture

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Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum

  • Rubbing alcohol

  • Unscented household bleach

  • Olive oil

  • Vinegar

  • Steam cleaner


Follow label directions for using over-the-counter disinfectant sprays to ensure germ, bacteria or fungi kill.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevent says to avoid mixing rubbing alcohol in a 50 percent solution to water, as it loses its germ-killing effectiveness.

Good old soap and hot water can effectively clean and sanitize furniture and other areas in the home. But avoid products with a label that states it's "antibacterial," as these are known to harbor offensive chemicals such as triclosan.

Household bleach can also sanitize and kill mold and mildew, by it also changes the color of items bleached. When you clean with bleach, verify you're cleaning a bleach-safe item first.


Always check the care tags on upholstered furniture before using a cleaning method for it.

Some cleaning agents may require ventilation, especially when using products with chemicals.

Test your chosen method of disinfection on a hidden piece of the furniture to find out how it works on the item.

Steam cleaner sanitizing a throw pillow.
Image Credit: snyferok/iStock/Getty Images

If you had a microscopic view of your home and the creatures that inhabit the furniture, you'd never stop cleaning. Some of these creatures look as if they jumped right off the pages of a science-fiction novel into your home. Whether you need to disinfect your latest thrift store find, or you just need to ensure the cleanliness of your existing furniture, you can choose from a variety of products based on the item you plan to sanitize.


Step 1

Vacuum upholstered surfaces first. To disinfect them, use a spray-on, homemade disinfectant comprising a 2-to-1 ratio of 60 to 90 percent rubbing -- isopropyl -- alcohol to water. Hold the bottle 6 to 8 inches from the furniture, spraying the piece until it is covered with a light mist. When someone is sick in your home, this type of disinfectant can keep others from getting sick because it kills a variety of germs and bacteria.

Step 2

Wipe down tabletops, end tables, wooden arms and other hard surfaces of your furniture with a rag and your own homemade disinfect -- a weakened solution of household bleach -- to sanitize them. Mix 1 teaspoon of bleach to a quart of water. The surface must stay wet at least 1 minute to completely disinfect the piece.


Step 3

Set a smelly thrift store find outdoors -- in good weather only -- for at least a day if you can to air it out and kill resident bacteria. Sunshine and clean air work wonders, and the ultraviolet rays kill a lot of germs. Make your own cleaning and oiling solution by mixing olive oil and vinegar in a 1-to-1 ratio and apply it to the furniture, after first testing its reaction on the wood in a hidden place.

Step 4

Apply a good dose of steam to a variety of furniture pieces if you prefer to avoid chemical cleaners. Besides its cleaning properties, it can kill a variety of creatures and microscopic bugs on furniture, tabletops, mattresses and more in just a few seconds. It effectively sanitizes and disinfects most anything it cleans because of the high temperatures in the steam vapor. But it may not be the best choice for items with specialty upholstery fabric such as velvet or other types of fabric that can shrink.


references & resources

Laurie Brenner

Laurie Brenner

As a native Californian, artist, journalist and published author, Laurie Brenner began writing professionally in 1975. She has written for newspapers, magazines, online publications and sites. Brenner graduated from San Diego's Coleman College.