How to Clean Fabric Chairs

Monica Patrick

Fabric chairs are comfortable home accessories, and keeping them clean will extend the life of the furniture. Since fabric chairs come in a variety of types and styles, there is no one-size-fits-all cleaning procedure.

Whether caring for a family heirloom or a new recliner, regular cleaning will prevent some serious stains. Learn more about reading furniture codes and how to interpret them for the best chair cleaning.


Do not wash cushion covers in the washing machine. They may shrink. Avoid getting zippers and buttons wet; this may cause rust.

Chairs with Codes

  1. Locate the upholstery label on newer fabric chairs. You can usually find this under the cushion of your fabric chair.

  2. Clean a chair with the code "W" by vacuuming the chair using a soft brush attachment. Use water-based foam cleaners to spot clean your chair. With a soft brush, rub the foam upholstery shampoo into the stain in a circular motion. Vacuum again when the fabric has dried.

  3. Tidy a chair with the code "S" by vacuuming it often to keep dust at a minimum. Clean small stains with dry cleaning upholstery products only. This solvent contains carbon tetrachloride, which should never be handled by children or without protective gloves. If your chair has many stains in the fabric, hire a professional to clean the chair. Cleanse a chair with the combination code of "W-S" in the same manner.

  4. Clean chairs that have a code "X"; label by vacuuming only. Liquid or foam cleansers may shrink or discolor your fabric. Avoid using any liquids on a code "X" chair.

Chairs With No Codes

  1. Care for chairs that have no labels cautiously. It is safe to vacuum most any chair. Remove the cushions and use the nozzle attachment on your vacuum cleaner to suck out debris from inside the chair.

  2. Replace the nozzle attachment with the brush tip. Brush the entire chair gently, including the cushions.

  3. Test your chair's ability to withstand cleansers by scrubbing a small, inconspicuous spot inside the chair. If the fabric is damaged or discolored during the test, do not use this method to clean the chair.

  4. Use a water-based upholstery cleaner to treat spots. Spray the cleaner on the stain, then dab at the spot with a soft cloth. Follow the directions on the specific product you choose.