Most upholstery cleaning products are wet solutions that are dispensed by spraying directly onto the upholstery. These solutions usually contain soap and degreasers that loosen and lift out dirt and oils. Similar type solutions are available for use with upholstery cleaning equipment. These are usually poured into a cleaning reservoir inside the machine. Other types of upholstering cleaning products include dry cleaning solvents and foam-based cleaners, both of which are usually sprayed on, allowed to dry and then brushed off the furniture.
Upholstery cleaning equipment can be expensive to purchase, so many people opt for daily rental. These machines can usually be rented at groceries, home improvement retailers, and hardware stores. Many of the machine manufacturers sell their own upholstery cleaning products that have been designed especially for their equipment. Sometimes, rental of the equipment may require purchase of those specific cleaning products.
Upholstery cleaning machines typically work by mixing cleaning solution with steam. The heat from the steam helps loosen dirt and oil. After the entire piece of furniture has been coated with the cleaning solution, a vacuum attachment is used over the entire surface. Ideally, the vacuum will get loosened soil and excess moisture. Though the upholstery will still be slightly damp, the vacuuming process greatly increases drying time.
In many cases, the need for allover cleaning methods can be greatly reduced by simply keeping up with spills and stains as they occur. The longer a stain is allowed to remain in fabric, the more difficult it will be to remove. Sometimes very fresh stains can be removed by blotting the area with soapy water and paper towels.
Some upholstery cleaning products contain what are believed to be carcinogenic or dangerous chemical additives. One of these is a chemical called perchloroethylene, which may affect the nervous system. Another additive called naphthalene may be poisonous if inhaled. People using cleaners containing either of these chemicals should make sure the room is well ventilated, and wear a mask while dispensing the cleaners.
For those who prefer natural upholstery cleaning products, vinegar and water may be a good alternative. Vinegar can be a very effective cleanser and poses no harmful side effects. In addition to vinegar, using baking soda as a cleanser could be a safe and effective alternative to chemical-based compounds. Baking soda can be mixed with a small amount of water to form glue-like paste, which loosens stains as it dries.