Steam cleaners can be used to clean nearly every area of your home, both hard and soft surfaces, like upholstery. In addition to removing dirt and stains, they also tackle grease, remove allergens, and eliminate viruses, mold, bacteria, bedbugs, and dust mites.
In this article, we will discuss how to use a steam cleaner to clean your upholstery. Please keep in mind that there are certain upholstery types that cannot tolerate steam cleaning. Be sure to read the tag on your furniture before proceeding. If it has an X on it, you may not steam clean it.
It is also important to purchase the right steam cleaner for the job. There are steam cleaners made specifically for upholstery and fabrics. There are also handheld steam cleaners that can get into tight spaces. If you do not purchase a handheld, be sure to select a steam cleaner that comes with detachable hoses or wands. If you don’t want to purchase a steam cleaner, you can rent one from many hardware, department, and even grocery stores. If you are new to steam cleaning, you may want to rent a few times to get a better idea of the right steam cleaner for your needs before purchasing one.
Before using the steam cleaner, however, you must first prepare the upholstery. This begins with vacuuming. Loose dirt, crumbs, dust, pet hair, human hair, pet dander can actually make your furniture dirtier if exposed to water, so you need to make sure you have gotten rid of that before steam cleaning. Be sure to vacuum both sides of any pillows, and don’t forget to vacuum the back of your furniture as well. Use the upholstery cleaning attachment and the crevice tool to get into all the cracks.
Next, pre-treat any stains with spot upholstery cleaner. Let the cleaner set for three to five minutes. Then pull out the stain and dry out the cleaner by blotting with a soft, clean cloth. In place of a commercial spot cleaner, you can also use mixtures of cornstarch, baking soda, and water or vinegar and rubbing alcohol. If you have an oil-based stain, however, you will need to use a commercial cleaner like Oxy Clean to remove it.
After stain removal, it is time to loosen any ground-in dirt. There are two steps to this process. First, spray a soil emulsifier on all of the upholstery and pillows. Wait a few minutes and then spray a light coating of upholstery shampoo on it, as well. Then rub the shampoo into the fabric with a soft brush. This mixture will come out of the fabric when you steam clean it.
Now you are ready to begin using the steam cleaner. You will need to add both cleaner and water to the machine based on the manufacturer’s instructions. Usually, there is a removable container to fill. Be careful not to make it too full, because if too much steam is released, it can over saturate your furniture. Also, use the cleaner sparingly or it will be difficult to get all of the soap residue out of your furniture.
Select the upholstery cleaning attachment. This is usually some type of brush, although depending on what model you are using, it could also be a cloth. Now you are ready to begin, and there should be a steam release button that you press to apply the steam to your furniture. Begin cleaning any pillows first. Clean one side at a time, allowing that side to dry before turning it over to clean the other side. If you notice any excess water, simply drag the attachment back over the area without holding the release button.
Then move to the upholstery itself. Clean one small area at a time and remove the water as described above. You don’t want to apply steam to a large area at one time, because the water will sit on the upholstery too long, and your furniture will absorb more of the excess water. If there are any remaining stubborn stains, you can go back over it without waiting for it to dry.
After you finish steam cleaning all of the furniture, you will need to give it time to dry. Certain factors, such as how humid the steam was or the weather will determine how much time it needs. To speed up the process, open the windows and use a fan. You can even use a blow dryer.
If you see any remaining stains after the upholstery has dried, there are a few things you can try to remove them. The first method is just plain old soap and water. Dampen a sponge, put some dish detergent on it, and rub that detergent into the sponge. Wring it out and blot the stain with it. Then rinse by cleaning the soap out of the sponge, dipping it in clean water, and blot to remove both the stain and the soap.
You can also use vinegar to remove the stain. Soak a clean cloth in it and blot the stain with the wet cloth to saturate the stain with vinegar. Rub the area gently with the cloth in a circular motion. Vodka can be substituted for the vinegar. The smell of both will disappear when the area dries.
If neither of these methods are effective, you may need to purchase a heavy duty cleaner like Resolve. Be sure to test a small, inconspicuous spot on your furniture to make sure it won’t damage the fabric. Then spray the cleaner directly on the upholstery and blot it with a clean cloth. Gently rub the spot in a circular motion if any trace of the stain remains. For wine or coffee stains, you should use a product that is made specifically for dark, liquid stains, like Wine Away.
By following the steps above once or twice per year, your furniture will be clean, sanitized, and will also last longer.