How to Clean Antique Upholstery

If you've ever seen "Antiques Roadshow" on T.V. then you know that often cleaning an antique destroys its value. That can be true with upholstered items. Also, if an upholstered item is truly an antique, the fabric may be very delicate. For these reasons it is not recommended that you use any wet method of cleaning your antique upholstery. There is a more modern method of upholstery cleaning known as dry foam extraction which often causes less damage to old and delicate fabrics and which does not cause streaking, a common problem with other methods of upholstery cleaning.

Gently and carefully dry vacuum your upholstery to remove as much surface dirt as possible. In many cases dry vacuuming will remove as much as 70 percent of the dirt and grime from your furniture.

Apply the foam to a foam sponge and gently rub into a hidden spot on your fabric so you can make sure the product is not going to harm the fabric.

Follow the instructions on the bottle of dry foam extraction. This can be found where you purchase upholstery cleaning supplies or at larger fabric stores.

Rub the product into the fabric gently. Dab at the fabric to remove as much dirt and grime as possible.

Press towels firmly against your upholstery to draw out as much of the remaining foam and dirt as possible. Be careful not to stretch or break delicate fabric.

Vacuum your fabric once again while it is still damp.

Blow fans on your upholstery to dry it. Be patient. Drying time after using the dry foam extraction method can be several hours. Do not use your furniture until completely dry.

Things You Will Need

  • Bottle of dry foam extraction
  • Foam sponges
  • Towels
  • Fans


  • Be gentle! Antique fabrics can be delicate. Use no more pressure than absolutely necessary when applying or removing foam to avoid stretching or breaking your upholstery.

About the Author

Larry Parr has been a full-time professional freelance writer for more than 30 years. For 25 years he wrote cartoons for television, everything from "Smurfs" to "Spider-Man." Today Parr train dogs and write articles on a variety of topics for websites worldwide.