How Do I Get a Water Stain out of an Upholstered Chair?

Mel Frank

Removing stains from upholstered chairs can be difficult, as it is not as simple as throwing the item in the washing machine. Instead, you must work the damaged area by hand to absorb and remove the stain.

While retail stain removal products are available, these can be expensive and many times contain harsh ingredients harmful to ourselves and our families. Instead, consider using inexpensive, natural ingredients that are most likely already in the home.

Absorb the Stain

It is important to act quickly when liquid comes into contact with upholstered furniture. Absorb as much of the liquid as possible by blotting the area with a clean cloth or paper towel. This will bring up the majority of the liquid that has not yet set in. Blot, do not rub, as rubbing can spread the stain to areas that would otherwise be unaffected by the stain. For water and clear liquids, blotting will many times prevent a stain from occurring.

Baking Soda

Baking soda also works quickly to absorb stains, and also works as a mild cleaning agent that will not damage upholstery fabric. Sprinkle a few spoonfuls of baking soda onto the stain, and work in with a cloth or soft bristled brush. Let sit for a few minutes, then vacuum the area to collect any liquid or baking soda residue.


A solution of white vinegar and water also works effectively to remove stains, while also deodorizing the area and disinfecting. This works especially well when liquid has set into an upholstered chair and caused a mildew scent. Mix equal parts of water and white vinegar in a spray bottle, then spray directly onto the stain. Work in with a cloth or soft bristled brush, then let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Finally, use a damp cloth to wipe away any excess vinegar solution, and the stain should now be removed from the fabric. Alternately, work the stain with the baking soda solution mentioned above, then follow up with the vinegar solution for a stain removal that's twice as effective.