Last updated on January 24, 2022

What is an Upholstery?

Upholstery material is the fabric stitched over furniture. Fabric prints and colours can significantly impact the energy and look of any space. Natural fabrics are used over residential couches and chair seats to display comfort and warmth. Contrastingly, commercial spaces often have leather sofas as it is easier to maintain and clean. In this regard, furniture evokes utility of space, whereas the upholstery material creates the vibe.

Most spaces contain at least one piece of upholstered furniture. When looking at the cross-section of an upholstered sofa, the clear distinction between the tough wood couch structure and the soft cushioning (upholstery) is observed.

Primarily, the webbing, padding, fabric, coil and foam come together to form the soft upholstery of the furniture. Soft, cushioned and designed furniture are popular for use in most spaces. As an upholstery fabric can be used for designing curtains too, they are also considered as upholstery in the international and local markets. And they help your drawing space become a luxurious living room!

It is important to know about the foam and fabric before cleaning upholstery. The reaction of every material is different with dry and water-based spotters or cleaners. Using an incorrect type of cleaner when cleaning upholstery can make the fabric lose its shine and colour.

Upholsteries are common in commercial and residential spaces. But what gives an upholstery its name?

History of Upholstery

History of Upholstery

Upholstery is derived from ‘upholder’, an English word common in the Middle Ages. An upholder in those days was a tradesman who finished or repaired goods from falling apart. These artisans or tradesmen inspired the name of the soft cushions that add comfort to modern living and commercial spaces. And they were later known as sofa upholstery.

Formerly, an upholsterer was a person skilled in the art of making or repairing furniture. This designation is still evident in the 21st century.

Earlier, upholsterers nailed animal skins over wooden furniture to add softness to the hard wooden structure of the furniture. They progressed to use any material available to create soft cushioning over hard furniture structures. However, there are different types of upholstery fabric like cotton, acetate, leather, hemp, linen, silk, polypropylene, acrylic, polyester, rayon, and nylon. But not all are used to make sofa upholstery.

Coconut husks, hay, straws, animal hair like horsehair, wadding, linen, and burlap were frequently used to fill the seats. This gave rise to the art of including padding, pillows for sleep, and cushions over wooden furniture. Furthermore, there are different types of linen fabric like damask linen, plain-woven linen, loosely-woven linen, etc. And they are a common sofa material that need care with a proper homemade sofa cleaner.

Traditionally, the upholstery was used as wall hangings and over mattresses only. During these times, cleaning upholstery was an easy task. That’s because washable fabrics were used for mattresses and wall hangings that could be easily dusted. The history of upholstery can be traced as follows:

  • By the 17th century, beds were introduced followed by chairs and sofas. As the initial prices of such products were high, only the rich in any society could afford them. This is why the furniture was covered in precious fabric like silk and velvet.
  • By the 18th century, springs were used to make sofas and different types of beds, which made the furniture durable with mattresses.
  • Fabrics were made using machines and dyes post the industrial revolution in the 19th century after a major industry shake-up. Prints on cotton started becoming popular as an upholstery fabric.
  • Dirt retardants, plywood, and synthetic fibres were introduced to create durable, luxurious, and comfortable furniture. These advancements improved in the 20th century, modernising the upholstery form into what is seen today.

Taking the amazing history of upholstered furniture forward, we at Wakefit, offer a range of upholstered dining chairs, different types of sofa sets, armchairs and lounge chairs, ottomans and so much more. They come in different types of linen fabric and Indian print fabrics.

Where Do We Use
Upholstery in Our

Today, upholstery forms an indivisible part of any seating furniture. Upholsterers use different styles and upholstery material to suit the furniture purpose while designing any of the following-

  • Sofa Sets
    • Single-seater
    • Double-seater
    • Triple-seater
    • L-shaped
  • Bed headboards
  • Couches
  • Living room chairs
  • Wing chairs
  • Armchairs
  • Ottomans or Pouffe
  • Ottoman-type centre tables
  • Dining chairs

Often, people change the upholstery of their furniture to transform the look of a space. This budget-friendly option of reupholstering takes less time than changing the interior design of a room. Also, the task of cleaning upholstery becomes manageable with new, high-quality fabric.

Upholstery fabric is generally made from knitted or woven threads. The surface is made using fibres like wool, hemp, cotton, polyester, polypropylene, or nylon for designing various varieties of fabric. To create stable and durable fabric, other textiles or latex are combined with threads.

After months of use, homeowners dread the time taken to go through their sofa cover wash. The soft cushioning of seating furniture can be ruined with one application of an incorrect cleaning product. It could change the colour or ruin the foam beneath the fabric in the long run. Better yet, consider using sofa cover design ideas to minimize staining or discolouration.

However, there are many benefits of using upholstery over a chair cover if maintained properly.

Benefits of Having
an Upholstery Over
a Plain Sofa

Choosing an upholstery over a plain sofa is beneficial to the environment. Plus, they help create a more intense design theme. For eg, linen fits beautifully in modern furniture. They help mirror your personality if you are inclined towards elegant designs.

Talking about the contribution towards the environment, an upholstery helps you easily discard an old furniture without throwing them away! They help you reupholster the same into something brand new. Hence, the environment gets less toxins to deal with.

Moreover, it’s important to maintain such an item carefully. The worse experience is finding dead mites on bed upholstery with their blood spilled and dried up. This signals immediate action with right the cleaning technique.

The credit for the popularity and increased availability of upholstered furniture in this century is for many reasons as listed below.



When compared to the hard wooden structure of furniture, the softness of including an upholstered seat is unmatched. It is uncomfortable to sit on a hard sofa without cushions for more than 10 minutes.

Similarly, a bed without an upholstered headboard forces people to create makeshift modern headboard designs using pillows. A headboard reduces back pain while sitting for long hours on the bed. Also, the task of cleaning upholstery becomes easy if comfortable fabrics like cotton are used.



Undoubtedly, upholstery with luxurious stitching patterns like the pin-tucked design increases the visual appeal of any room while adding an element of soft beauty. This visual comfort entices people of all ages to seek the comfort offered by soft cushions and warm fabrics.

Had there been hard wooden furniture without upholstery, people would have used it only when required the most.



The upholstery fabric is responsible for adding the element of luxury in simple furniture like sofas or headboards. If the foam, padding, and coils of any furniture were left exposed, it would create an unpleasant design.

Spaces with such furniture would look unattractive. This makes upholstery fabric and designs important to enhance furniture style.



Depending on the purpose of a furniture piece, the upholstery can be tailored in different shapes and sizes. By increasing the number of foams, it is possible to increase the bounciness of the couch. Now, calling it a sofa upholstery. Similarly, the design of the upholstery can be changed based on the interiors of any space.

Cleaning the Couch -
Why Is It Tougher
than You Think?

Bringing in a new furniture feels great! You get to do so many decorative things you thought you would. But one thing that everyone should consider is cleaning them. And yes, it’s not as easy as you think it is.

Stains falling on clothes are different than couches that you love. And to take them out is a whole process! Eating on the sofa, spilling coffee or oily food always hurts the couch’s longevity. And to maintain them, you need to know why it’s this way so you can prepare yourself for it with proper methods of sofa cleaning at home.

Hence, let’s look at this in depth.

get dirty

How Does the Couch Get Dirty?

The couch is the hotspot of any space. The warmth and comfort that a sofa upholstery offers, attracts everyone who enters the room. By the end of the day, the soft fibres on the surface of the furniture trap bacteria and dirt in large numbers.

Slowly and gradually, the fibres are filled with these contaminants, resulting in unclean air. This becomes a health hazard for people using couches or upholstered furniture in the long run.

The risk of infections and diseases increases if animals live in the same house. Over time, animal hair, dirt, urine, and dandruff degrade the quality of the upholstery fabrics. This decreases the attractiveness of the furniture while posing health risks for people and animals.

cleaning upholstery

How to Clean Your Sofa Correctly

Sofa cover wash must be done frequently to avoid these complications. The frequency of cleaning upholstery depends on the number of people using it and the time spent by each person on the couch.

The body oils, dust, spill, and dirt result in the accumulation of contaminants on fabric that ultimately get deposited on the foam beneath its surface. Due to this, mites start infecting the wooden furniture under the upholstery reducing the lifespan of the furniture. Mites on bed and couch can be avoided by using a vacuum cleaner for sofa and beds.

However, before using an alcohol disinfectant for cleaning upholstery, people must check the upholstery quality as explained in the following sections. Plus, it’s important that you choose a good upholstery cleaner to maintain the firmness and longevity.

cleaning upholstery

Dust Mites and Bed Bugs- How Could They Affect You?

As people have started spending a major part of their lives indoors, dust and bed bugs have become an increasing hygiene nuisance. A project named 360 Dust Analysis studied the generation and effect of indoor dust on human health. Approximately one-third of the total dust inside any house is created right inside the house.
The frequency of cleaning upholstery in houses plays a vital role in the quantity of dust retained.

People frequently complain of bedbugs in their beds and sofas. They move around the mattress or foam of the sofa throughout their lifetime. In their adult stage, bedbugs are just about the size of an apple seed, which makes them hard to notice.

They live inside unclean sofa upholstery and are harmful to humans. A female bed bug carries the potential to lay hundreds of eggs during her lifetime. These eggs are deposited in secluded places on any furniture.

Their small size makes them impossible to detect. Normally, these eggs hatch within a week after which the female attempts to reproduce again. These bed bugs have an average lifespan of approximately ten months. They sleep during the day and remain active throughout the night to feed on their hosts (humans).

cleaning upholstery

Consequences of Unclean Upholstery

Commonly, dust is generated inside the house by human and animal skin cells that are regularly shed by bodies. The dust mites feeding off animals can also stick to the couch fabric, making the occupants prone to diseases. These mites and dirt are also present on any upholstered dining chair.

For people sleeping on the couch, directly coming in contact with dust and bed bugs can result in skin diseases like hives and eczema. Bedbugs have an elongated beak through which they pierce the skin of their human hosts and withdraw blood.

As the bites are painless, people don’t realise being bitten by a bedbug. The bugs leave their hosts after feeding and go to isolated locations to complete their digestion.

On the next day of being bitten by a bedbug, many people notice an itchy red welt. This reaction can sometimes take days or weeks to show. Few people observe no reaction at all. However, the ones who do are bothered by inflammation and itching for a long time. Sofa cleaning at home is the solution to this problem.

Despite the delicate fabric, lace curtains in any room must also be cleaned frequently to avoid health complications.

Choose from couches that complement your living room.

What Are the
Challenges in Cleaning
the Upholstery?

While sofa cleaning at home may seem therapeutic which it is; the practice has come challenges as well. There are certain types of linen fabric that need proper care. And if coffee or oil falls on them, the fight maybe be tough. Worse, if there is blood due to dead mites on bed. For this, you should consider the process that also helps you find how to wash mattress protector in the next chapter below.

Plus, clean furnishings complement your living space decor. You can look at decor ideas for a small living room to make your spick and span upholstery sync with them!

Some common questions about cleaning upholstery are, how to remove ink stains from bed sheets? An alcohol disinfectant maybe great but toxic to some fabrics. And while many people use a sofa cleaning shampoo to remove tough stains, there are many common challenges faced during cleaning your upholstery as listed below.

cleaning upholstery


Cleaning upholstery helps discover hidden problems with upholstery fabric. Watermarks are one such problem. These watermarks carry the shape of a ring, and they start becoming evident when the size of the upholstery reduces over time. Usually, these watermarks are brown when the fabric is not sufficiently dried. Otherwise, they are clear in nature.



When any material, like the Indian upholstery fabric, takes longer than usual for drying, the surface appears brown or extra wet. This is called browning, and it can happen even on implementing the best way to wash linen. Browning is an indicator of high contamination, and the fabric must be washed multiple times to get the colour off. Immediately after cleaning, the water must be extracted entirely, allowing the fabric to dry.


Lingering Odours

Despite frequent cleaning, the problem of lingering odour can remain persistent. This complaint is frequently observed in houses with pets. When dirt-causing elements penetrate the foam and coils of upholstery, it becomes harder to eliminate the odour caused by them with surface cleaning agents. Deep cleaning using a strong sofa cleaning shampoo is the solution to this persistent challenge.



After washing curtains or sofas frequently, people notice the colour fade. If the new-like shine is lost after cleaning, the chemicals in the alcohol disinfectant or cleaners might not have worked well with the upholstery.

The method of cleaning also plays an important factor in this case. Milder materials and gentle procedures must be implemented for maintaining upholstery sheen. With proper care, they will stand out as some stylish modern sofa designs.

Get a sofa set that doesn’t need much cleaning. Save time and energy.

Don’ts of Upholstery
Cleaning - What You Might
Be Doing Wrong

To maintain your upholsteries, be mindful of the things you should not do. Otherwise, you may reduce their longevity, lose firmness and more without knowing. If you strictly avoid these practices, your couch or upholstery items will remain a legacy!

cleaning upholstery

Allowing dust to settle

People using a vacuum cleaner for sofa once in six months provide ample time for contaminants to settle. Irregular cleaning helps bacteria and germs to penetrate inside the upholstery deeper, damaging the foams and coils. Just like sofas and beds, washing curtains especially lace curtains regularly is vital to maintain freshness.

tough vigorously

Rubbing tough stains vigorously

While thinking of how to remove ink stains from bed sheets, people impulsively start rubbing the stains vigorously with a rough cloth. This can permanently ruin the fibres of any Indian upholstery fabric and push the stain to seep into the fabric and foam. So, make sure that you’re using a reliable and safe upholstery cleaner. Cleaning the fabric gently using a sponge in a blotting fashion can remove tough stains like that of ink, easily.

washing machine

Cleaning in the washing machine

Cleaning upholstery fabric or other linens in the washing machine is another common mistake observed while performing sofa cleaning at home. Regardless of the different types of upholstery fabric, the process is safe and effective for all. The water in the washing machines is not temperature controlled, and the fabrics might be sensitive to room temperature water. This action could result in permanent discolouration. So instead, you can use a good washing detergent and hand wash with a safe brush to get stains out.


Spills that might not come off the Indian upholstery fabric

An Indian print fabric is hard to clean. For lighter stains, a homemade sofa cleaner made with baking soda and distilled water can help. However, people must read the instructions of the upholstery fabric to check if the water-based cleaners are safe to use on the fabric.


Don’t use bleach

Bleach is a strong cleaning agent that leaves stains on the couch when used in the wrong quantities. Dark-coloured sofas will start turning whiter or colour-fade because the bleach tends to stick to the fabric of the upholstery. Many times, a bleach and water solution will leave blotchy stains on different areas of the couch.


Don’t start cleaning from the centre of your seating

Cleaning the spill from the centre is initially tempting. However, the stain is the most concentrated towards the centre. When the cleaning shampoo or solution is applied to the centre, the stain starts spreading in other directions.

hard chemical

Don’t use hard chemicals

Unknowingly, people use hard cleaners for their couch that aggravates the presence of contaminants. And most of the types of upholstery fabric don’t react well to those chemicals. In fact, they lose their longevity quickly. The label of the cleaner must be read before use to prevent skin rashes, irritation, dullness of the upholstery fabric, or breathing problems.

use heat

Don’t use heat

Different materials of upholstery fabric react differently to heat. Blends containing silk will get damaged on exposure to excessive heat. This is why using steam to disinfect certain upholsteries is not recommended.


Don’t take up upholstery cleaning if unsure

Cleaning upholstery at home can go wrong in many ways. Dust mites on the bed professionally require deep cleaning to be eradicated completely. Deep cleaning is generally done using a vacuum cleaner for sofa that makes it a lot easier.

If any of the above steps go wrong, the fabric will get discoloured forever. This is why to save the hard-earned money spent on furniture, people must sign up for professional cleaning services if they don’t have experience in cleaning.

Do-S of Upholstery Cleaning- Tips to Get It Spotless

When you want to clean uplholsteries, there is a process involved. Better yet, see them as checklists to make your cleaning effective and safe! However, these are the things you should do while washing your upholsteries:


Understand the couch fabric

The best way to wash linen or upholstery fabric is to first take some time to understand the fabric. Using the right cleaning upholstery shampoo or solution on the upholstery will leave a new-like shine.

piller layer

Read the instructions (indicators)

The content label of the furniture displays the resistance of dyes to cleaning agents. Common codes like the ones listed below are observed.

  • W: The dyes on these fabrics are unaffected by water-based cleaners and spotters.
  • WS: These dyes are unaffected by both water-based and dry solvent-based spotters and cleaners.
  • X: These dyes are unstable. People must not use any spotter or cleaner on them.
  • S: Dyes on these fabrics are unaffected by dry solvent-based spotters or cleaners.

indian sofa

Test out the cleaner on the fabric

After reading the tips on how to wash mattress protector, perform a patch test of the spotter or cleaner on the couch or mattress protector. Observe the results for 24 hours before using the cleaner on the furniture or any other fabric.

act quickly

Act quickly

A stain on an upholstered dining chair must be acted on quickly to avoid its penetration. One of the tips for sofa cleaning at home is to act quickly. If you wait, some stubborn stains might decode to not leave at all. Start by blotting the stain with a wet cloth until it disappears. Once the stain is gone, the wet surface of the fabric must be dried using a clean cloth.

vacum first

Vacuum first

To start the process of deep cleaning, use a vacuum to clean the surface debris on the couch. Start from the corners and cover the front and back sides of the couch to complete the process.

dust debris

Run a dry brush across to loosen dust or debris

Even after vacuuming, persistent smaller particles remain on the couch. These can be removed by running a clean and dry brush across the visible surface of the couch. The process will loosen the dust stuck between the fibres of the fabric, allowing it to be eliminated during the further steps.

layer 13

Deep cleaning the couch

Deep cleaning upholstery eliminates almost every contaminant damaging the furniture. If the instructions on the couch are marked W or WS, using steam can help in loosening the dust and stains for easy removal.

  • Baking soda: making it at home: Take a small bowl and start by combining equal parts of baking soda and warm water depending on the size of your sofa. This baking soda solution helps in stain removal at home.
  • Removing tough stains: Stains on a tough Indian print fabric can be effectively removed by using the right cleaner for the fabric. Fresh stains can be easily removed by the process of blotting while persistent stains might take up to four tries to fade off. It is important to let the fabric dry before every attempt to maintain the colour.
  • Shampooing the couch: There are many types of shampoos in the market for cleaning upholstery. Some come in plain bottles and others with an attachment. If used correctly as the instructions on the bottle say, the shampoo can eliminate stains, odours, and heavy soils from the surface of the furniture.
  • Homemade cleaners to try: Mix a teaspoon of washing liquid, baking soda, white vinegar, and some warm water for creating another homemade cleaner for cleaning upholstery.

Upholding the Upholstery -
Maintenance Tips

How Often to Clean?

For maintaining the new-like sheen of any upholstery, it must be cleaned regularly. This will help in preventing the accumulation of dirt particles on the surface of the fabric and beneath. Also, use a great upholstery cleaner that’s both safe and effective.

To keep the sofas spotless, they must be vacuumed every fortnight. While vacuuming, use the brush attachment in a gentle motion to swiftly loosen and attract dust. Check out how to clean a sofa at home to make your space more calm and welcoming!

When the fabric is sensitive (for instance, velvet), practice extra caution while using a sofa cleaning foam to prevent marks.

When to Get Professional Cleaning Services?

cleaning upholstery

Professional ways of cleaning upholstery with expensive formulas and machines can benefit the furniture in the following situations:

  • Before a get-together or party
  • After a party
  • On the detection of visible stains
  • On the detection of unpleasant odours
  • Every two months to maintain hygiene

What Will the Professionals Do?

Professionals use high-tech cleaning machines that inject a sofa cleaning foam solution into the upholstery. These machines suck the contaminants out of the upholstery from deeper levels as the suctioning powers of expensive machines are high.

Tips to Avoid Spilling and Stains

  • Use plastic coverings over seats
  • Buy sofa covers
  • Avoid eating or drinking while seated on the couch

Select high-quality and easy-to-maintain upholstery from the large collection of furniture on Wakefit. We offer a range of easy-to-maintain Indian upholstery fabric.

How to keep a couch live for long? Choose a great couch that’s comfortable and easy to maintain.

Frequently Asked Questions

You can clean upholstery by removing tough stains using a sponge. Then, you can use a good shampoo to wash it. Finally, vacuum the spot gently. Here are some tips to clean upholstery perfectly:

  • Remove tough stains by blotting over them using a sponge.
  • Use a sofa cleaning shampoo that suits your fabric.
  • Use the brush attachment while gently vacuuming the fabric.
  • Clean the stains immediately to avoid drying.

The combination of webbing, padding, foam, coils and fabric that come together to form the soft cushion over the hard structure of the furniture is called upholstery.

You can make a reliable homemade sofa cleaning foam using simple items found in your kitchen like baking soda, water, detergent, etc. They cost almost nothing and are far better than commercial cleaners. Plus, they are safer too! Here are the two ways on how to made homemade sofa cleaner:

  • Combine the same quantities of warm water and baking soda to make a solution to clean the sofa.
  • Mix one teaspoon of washing detergent, baking soda and white vinegar with some warm water to make your homemade sofa cleaning solution.

If the code label of your upholstery reads ‘S,’ it should be dry-cleaned only. However, the fabrics marked ‘WS’ can also be sent for dry cleaning.

Wakefit offers a wide range of colourful and printed fabrics to match any interior. You can choose your desired upholstered furniture from our premium collection at Wakefit!

It can take typically 2 weeks to a month to upholster a couch. The upholstering process also depends on the size of the couch.

Reupholstering furniture is a really great way to give your old furniture a new look. However, it may cost more than buying new furniture. Hence, it is important to decide how much of your furniture you want to upholster. For instance if you only want to redo an antique chair, upholstering it is a better option than just buying new furniture.

Both Recovering and Reupholstering are similar processes and mean replacing the fabric. However, recovering is usually done on loose furniture and reupholstering is done on heavier furniture like couches, safe sets, chairs etc.

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