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DIY Upholstery Cleaner

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My DIY Upholstery Cleaner uses simple ingredients for effective stain removal on couches, car upholstery and more.

Pink bottle of homemade upholstery cleaner, white towel and sponge on car passenger seat.

This DIY cleaner will help you deal with stubborn stains on your upholstery without needing to turn to the toxic chemicals often found in commercial upholstery cleaners.

I originally started using this DIY recipe on a microfiber couch and I was so impressed with how well it removed stains that I gave it a try in the car and found it to be just as effective there.

If you’ve been searching for a homemade upholstery cleaner recipe that actually works, this DIY solution does a really great job as a stain remover. And the good news is that it’s incredibly easy to make too.

Supplies and Tools

  • ½ cup of rubbing alcohol
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 5 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 5 drops of rosemary essential oil
  • 8 ounce glass spray bottle
  • Funnel
  • Sponge and/or microfiber towel

By the Numbers: How to Make Upholstery Cleaner

Follow these simple steps to make a multi-purpose fabric, couch and car upholstery cleaner.

Step 1: Mix Alcohol and Vinegar.

Add ½ cup of rubbing alcohol and ½ cup of white vinegar to an 8-ounce spray bottle with a fine mist option. If you have a different size bottle, use equal parts rubbing alcohol and white vinegar.

Pouring rubbing alcohol into spray bottle.

Step 2: Scent with Essential Oils.

If you’d like your cleaner to smell good, add 5 drops of lavender oil and 5 drops of rosemary oil to the bottle (or 10 drops of any essential oils you like).

Essential oils being added to spray bottle with rubbing alcohol and white vinegar.

Step 3: Put Lid on Spray Bottle.

Place the lid on your bottle of DIY Upholstery Cleaner, then you’re ready to use it.

Pink spray bottle of homemade upholstery cleaner on car seat with sponge and towel.

How to Use Upholstery Cleaner

Step 1: Vacuum and Dust.

Before using your homemade upholstery cleaner, you’ll want to use an indoor vacuum or shop vacuum to suck up general dirt, food crumbs, dust and pet hair.

I also like to use a lint roller to pick up any bits of dust that were missed by the dry vacuum.

Step 2: Spot Test Cleaner.

As with any new cleaner, it is always a good idea to try this in a small, inconspicuous area to test the surface you want to clean for discoloration before using on a larger area.

Step 3: Spray Fabric.

Spray the stained fabric surface generously with your homemade upholstery cleaner mixture and allow it to sit for 1-2 minutes (do not let it dry).

Spraying dirty car upholstery with homemade cleaner.

Step 4: Scrub Upholstery.

Scrub vigorously in a circular motion with a dry sponge or clean towel, then allow the fabric to dry (the alcohol helps it dry rather quickly).

Dirty car upholstery that needs to be cleaned.

Step 5: Scrub More, If Needed.

Repeat if needed to remove stubborn stains. You can even grab a scrub brush to use on tougher fabrics.

Step 6: Let It Air Dry.

Make sure the area is dry before sitting on it by pressing a dry paper towel over the area and making sure there isn’t any moisture to absorb. Since half of the recipe is rubbing alcohol, it dries pretty quickly.

Car seat after being cleaned with homemade upholstery cleaning solution.

Tips for Making & Using Your Cleaning Solution

Answers to all of your questions about this easy cleaning solution for upholstery.

1. What can I clean with this solution?

There are many types of fabric you can use this homemade cleaner on, such as:

  • Spills in kids’ car seats.
  • Regular cleaning of upholstered furniture and car interiors.
  • Stains left on car upholstery by previous owners.
  • Food stains on dining room chairs.
  • Stained areas of your microfiber couch.
  • Pet urine stains from unhappy accidents.
  • Use as a general stain remover before using a steam cleaner.

Please note: Do not use on leather upholstery.

2. Does this cleaner smell strong?

You will want to use this mixture in an open space as some people find it to have an unpleasant odor. If you’re using it indoors, open up those windows!

While it does have an overpowering smell when wet, it dries with no odor other than the essential oil scents you choose.

3. What essential oils work best?

I personally prefer Rocky Mountain Oils. They are all really good quality oils and they provide the testing reports so you can verify that.

A variety of oils from Rocky Mountain Essential Oils.

My favorite combo for a fresh clean scent is lavender and rosemary oil. Some of my other favorite combos are:

Important Note: If using citrus oils, you will want to store your cleaner in a glass spray bottle so they do not eat away at the plastic.

4. More Essential Oil Cleaning Products.

If you’re curious what other cleaning products you can make with your essential oils, try some of these tutorials:

Pink spray bottle of homemade upholstery cleaner

Simple DIY Upholstery Cleaner

Learn how to make your own upholstery cleaner to remove stains and help sterilize the area. This simple solution can replace most chemical cleaners.
4.25 from 92 votes
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Makes: 1 Bottle

Supplies

Tools

  • 8 ounce glass spray bottle
  • Funnel
  • Sponge / microfiber cloth

Instructions

How to Make

  • Combine alcohol and vinegar in a spray bottle with a fine mist option. If you have a different size bottle, use equal parts rubbing alcohol and white vinegar.
    Pouring rubbing alcohol into spray bottle.
  • Add the lavender and rosemary essential oils to the bottle with the alcohol and vinegar mixture.
    Essential oils being added to spray bottle with rubbing alcohol and white vinegar.
  • Place the cap on the spray bottle and you're ready to use your homemade solution to clean upholstery!
    Pink spray bottle of homemade upholstery cleaner on car seat with sponge and towel.

How to Use

  • Generously spray it onto the dirty upholstery and let it sit for a couple minutes, but don’t let it dry.
    Spraying dirty car upholstery with homemade cleaner.
  • Scrub in a circular motion with a dry, clean cloth and allow it to dry. Do not use water.
    Car seat after being cleaned with homemade upholstery cleaning solution.

More Cleaning Recipes and Tips

5 thoughts on “DIY Upholstery Cleaner”

  1. Wow! A simple and easy DIY recipe that works! The stains came right out! This recipe makes for great upholstery cleaner. I used some citrus oils and love the fresh citrus scent that helps keep my furniture cleaner and smelling great, but not too overbearing! Great recipe!

  2. I have a very important question requiring a urgent answer if possible. Does this solution lighten or bleach out colored fabric

    1. Hi Starr, I haven’t had a problem. However, every fabric is different, so it’s always recommended to spot test any fabric or upholstery cleaner in an inconspicuous place to make sure it’s color fast.

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