How To Clean Vinyl Upholstery

Furniture that is upholstered with vinyl has a distinctive retro appearance to it, and can lend a unique aesthetic to the room that it is installed in. However, like all materials, vinyl upholstery can become dirty and stained over time as it is exposed to different materials. Thankfully, you can clean vinyl stains yourself with some basic supplies and a little bit of elbow grease to restore the appearance of your furniture.

General Cleaning

For dirt and stains that may show up on your furniture from everyday use and haven't actually set into the vinyl, you can make use of any sort of general cleaning detergent and warm water with a clean rag to wipe the debris away. For minor stains, you will want to use a soft brush to scrub the stained area in a circular motion (avoid stiff bristled brushes and abrasive sponges, which can scratch and tear the surface of your vinyl).

You should always avoid bleach based cleaners, as these can remove the color from your upholstery and actually cause structural damage to the vinyl if allowed to sit for an extended period of time. Instead of using one of these cleaners for a particularly stubborn stain, you should let a mild cleaner sit on the stain for a few minutes to sink into the vinyl and loosen the staining material.

Removing Severe Staining

For severe stains that won't respond to most general-purpose cleaners and soaking, especially dark colored substances like wine and ink, you'll want to make use of some more specialized cleaning materials.

Mineral spirits are strong enough to dissolve most staining materials, but can also cause damage to the vinyl upholstery if exposed in too great of a quantity. For that reason, you should blot a small amount onto a clean rag, and have a secondary clean rag free of any cleaning materials ready. Blot the mineral spirits on a small area of the stain at a time, and avoid spreading or rubbing the spirits into the fabric. Don't let it sit: instead, after a few seconds have passed, wipe it away with the clean rag.

Repeat as needed as you cover the entire portion of the stain that you are trying to remove. Instead of mineral spirits, you can attempt to use hydrogen peroxide in a similar manner, but be aware that this can bleach your vinyl upholstery: it is ideal for lighter colored pieces of furniture, and only when other treatments prove to be completely ineffective.