Steam cleaners can remove embedded stains, dirt, grease, and will remove all allergens. If you want to sanitize your upholstery and remove bacteria, mold, bedbugs, or other pathogens, steam cleaning is the answer.
To prepare your upholstery
To begin your cleaning process you will want to vacuum your furniture first. This removes any dust, trash, pet hair and dander that may lay on the surface of furniture. These need to be removed as they can make your furniture look even dirtier if they get wet. Make sure that you vacuum into all cracks and crevices to get the dirt that has fallen down into them. If you are also going to be cleaning pillows, make sure you vacuum both sides of them. Vacuum the back of the furniture piece as well, and make sure you haven’t left behind any crumbs or trash during the vacuuming process. Before you begin any of the steam cleaning process, check the label on your furniture to make sure it can tolerate water-based cleaning methods. The tag should list how the piece can be cleaned. If you see an “X” on the tag it means water will damage it and you cannot steam clean it.
Pre-treat any stains on furniture
If you notice there are darker, dirtier or stained areas on your furniture, spray them with an upholstery cleaner designed for spot cleaning after you have finished vacuuming. The spot cleaner can break up the stain and make steam cleaning it easier. Check the label of the cleaner you use to find out how long it should sit on the stain before further cleaning. When you have given it enough time to work on the stain, blot the area to remove excess cleaner and remove the stain.
Many stains like; poop, pee, dirt or food can be cleaned with the steam cleaning process. If a stain is oil-based then it may take an additional cleaner such as Oxy Clean to get the stain completely out. Household products such as; vinegar mixed with baking soda can also be used a pre-treat process to remove stains that are ground in and oil-based.
Pre-condition the furniture piece
The main reason you are probably cleaning your furniture for is to remove the dirt that has been ground in, dust, or other grime that has made it look dirty. There are products on the market called, soil emulsifiers that will help to loosen elements from your furniture that have been there for a while and have been ground into the fabric. You simply need to spray the soil emulsifiers onto the fabric and let it sit for a few minutes. Then you can spray a light layer of upholstery shampoo on to the fabric as well. Rub these products in by brushing over the areas with your hand. These can stay on the fabric as you will be removing them when you steam clean the piece.
Choose the right steam cleaner
The market offers many different steam cleaner units. They are typically separated by the different products they can clean. When you are looking to steam clean your furniture make sure you have one that is designed for upholstery and is an upholstery cleaner. Some of the models are handheld and are easier to use. The handheld models are designed for areas that are tight or small.
You want a unit that has attachments so you can get into small areas and the cracks. You will want to stay away from the larger carpet cleaners as they are just too bulky to use on furniture and normally do not come with fabric cleaning attachments to get into those smaller areas. If this is not a job you will be performing as a routine, you may want to check into renting a unit rather than buying one.
Prepare the steam cleaner
Steam cleaners require water and depending on the model you have chosen you should follow directions on the machine. The most typical method is to remove a tank and fill it with a mixture of water and upholstery cleaner. Follow directions and do not fill past the line indicated. Overfilling causes the release of too much steam which can saturate your fabric. Don’t add too much soap either as it is easier to re-clean an area than it is to try and get the excess soap out of fabric. Follow the directions for the model and attach the upholstery attachment.
Begin to steam clean your upholstery
To begin your steam cleaning process start with the cushions. If there are removable pillows, clean them and the cushions first. Using the handheld cleaner or hose attachment, spray the surface with the steam with the button on the unit. This will wet the fabric as soon as the steam hits it. Pull the opening of the steam cleaner over the area you just wet to suck up the moisture and clean the fabric. Repeat this process over all pillows and cushion surfaces. If doing both sides, allow one side to dry before doing the second as you do not want to lay the cushion on a wet side.
Continue the cleaning process with the rest of the furniture piece. Do a small section at a time to make sure you get all the excess water out. Steaming to large of an area will allow moisture to sit on fabric too long. If you have any areas especially dirty, go over them a second time. You do not need to wait for it to dry; you can go over area right away.
Dry the furniture
Drying times will vary according to your geography. Humid areas will take longer for furniture to dry. You can speed up the process with a fan.