How to Steam Clean Furniture

How to steam clean furniture

For today’s cleaning project, I will show you how to steam clean furniture. Do you notice oil, chocolate, wine, or other stains on your furniture? If you have pets and/or kids at home, these accidents tend to happen frequently. If you are worried about these stains damaging your furniture permanently, here is a piece of good news for you. These stains can be easily removed, provided you use the right type of steam vacuum cleaner for your upholstery. Listed below are some simple steps you need to follow to get your furniture thoroughly steam-cleaned and sparkling!

Preparing the furniture for steam-cleaning

Preparing your furniture for the steam-cleaning process is very important. In this prep process, you will clean your furniture first and pretreat the stains that are already there. This way, you don’t run the risk of spreading these stains all over when you steam clean them with a vacuum cleaner. Here is how you can do the prep work for your furniture before cleaning them.

What do you need?

  • Vacuum Cleaner with appropriate attachments
  • Optional supplies for stains on furniture
    • Stain Cleaner
    • Soft rags
    • White Vinegar
    • Rubbing alcohol
    • Cornstarch
    • Baking Soda


  • Use a proper vacuum cleaner with the right attachments to get rid of the dust, dirt, pet hair and other particles from your furniture.
  • You can make a paste using white vinegar and rubbing alcohol for getting rid of the light stains (if any) on the furniture. You can also use a paste made from cornstarch and baking soda to pre-treat the stains.
  • Allow the paste to remain on the stains for about 5 minutes, before you use a soft cloth to blot the same until the paste becomes dry. Keep doing this until the stains have lifted from the furniture.
  • Preconditioning agents like shampoos and emulsifiers help in loosening stubborn stains. Invest in some upholstery-specific shampoos and soil emulsifiers for this purpose. Spray these on the furniture’s fabric, and wait for a few minutes before you proceed to the steam-cleaning process.

Cleaning the furniture with a steam cleaner

What do you need?

  • Proper steam cleaner with the right attachments (specific for upholstery)
  • Water


  • Using the right steam cleaner is the most important part of this process. For steam-cleaning furniture, you should use fabric vacuum cleaners, handheld steam vacuum cleaners, or upholstery vacuum cleaners. Choose the one that suits the type and size of furniture you want to clean.
  • Follow the instructions on the package of the steam vacuum cleaner you use to add the right quantities of water and cleaner to the machine.
  • Add the proper attachments that come with the vacuum cleaner to clean furniture specifically (like a standing brush, revolving brush and more).
  • Start with small pieces of furniture like cushions and pillows. Hold the steam cleaner right above these furniture pieces, and press the button to release the steam.
  • Keep dragging the cleaner over the furniture to absorb the moisture that was accumulated when steam was released over it.
  • Repeat the process to cover the entire surface and sides of the furniture.

Drying the furniture thoroughly

What do you need?

  • Fans or blow dryers


  • Once you have steam cleaned the furniture thoroughly, you should give it enough time to dry before you start using it.
  • If you had released a lot of steam while cleaning, or if the climate on the day of your cleaning was rainy, your furniture will take a long time to clean.
  • You can install fans or blow-dryers at appropriate places to ensure that the furniture dries quicker than the usual time.
  • After the furniture has dried, if you notice some discoloration issues, you need to clean it again using the steps mentioned below.

Getting rid of stains that remain even after steam-cleaning

What do you need?

  • Dish detergent
  • Sponge
  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Commercial stain cleaners


  • The first way to get rid of residues of stains that remain on the furniture even after steam cleaning is by using a simple soap & water method. Pour a little bit of dish detergent on a damp sponge. Gently place this sponge over the stains on the furniture. Blot gently without rubbing too hard. Use another clean sponge to blot over the stains and remove the soapy residues. Keep repeating the process until the stains have lifted completely.
  • For deeper stains, you can follow the same blotting process as above, but with a sponge or rag dipped in white vinegar. Blot over the stains gently without scrubbing the marks. Keep blotting until the stains come off completely. You can also dip a sponge or rag in vodka instead of white vinegar.
  • If you have tried these methods a couple of times, and if you still notice some residues on the furniture, you can opt for store-bought furniture-specific stain cleaners. Apply some cleaner on the stains directly. Use a clean cloth to blot the stains. You will notice that the stains start to come off easily by now.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Always ensure that you use the right attachments in the steam vacuum cleaners when using them on your upholstery. More often than not, incorrect and unsuitable attachments used with steam cleaners can cause irreparable damage to your furniture.
  • Before proceeding to steam clean the furniture, check the manual of your furniture to check if its fabric can be cleaned using this method. Steam cleaning releases a lot of moisture into the fabric of your furniture. So, when you use this method on a fabric that is not compatible with water-based cleaning methods, you can damage your furniture permanently.
  • For cleaning small surface areas of furniture, you can use handheld steam cleaners, as they are easy to operate.
  • Steam cleaners, especially the ones that are suitable for cleaning upholstery, don’t come cheap. So, before investing in one, you can check with the grocery or hardware stores in your locality, if you can rent one for your use. This will save you a great deal of money.
  • You should be very careful about using the exact quantities of water and cleaner in your steam machine. Adding more cleaner than the recommended quantity may require you to clean the furniture multiple times to get rid of the soapy residues.

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