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Stained Up Microfiber Furniture? Clean It Up With Window Cleaner

Want to make your microfiber furniture look practically brand new? Bust out the Windex and a scrub brush. No, seriously. It’s amazing.

Microfiber upholstery is durable and pretty stain resistant, but as anybody with kids, pets, or rowdy friends can tell you—stains find a way. I have small dining set in our sunroom that is a perfect spot to drink your coffee in the morning and, on account of the tile floor and inexpensive rug we have in there, the ideal place to park messy kids at meals. On top of that, the sunroom is a magnet for our cats, so the poor chairs have gotten the double whammy of sticky kid hands and spills over the years as well as hairballs and mystery pet stains. After years of it, despite regular vacuuming and even cleaning with a wet/dry upholstery tool, the poor chairs looked pretty rough and mottled with various stains.

When my wife proposed we try a cleaning trick she’d found online that involved liberally spritzing down your microfiber with Windex and brushing it with a nylon brush I will admit that I was more than a wee bit incredulous. But, since the poor chairs were already in such a state that I was contemplating reupholstering them, I figured there was no downside (besides moving up the date of my weekend upholstery project).

It turns out it worked brilliantly, and the only downside was that I, foolishly, forgot to take before pictures. (But don’t worry, if you crave some gnarly before and after shots, there are plenty of them to be found online like here.)

All you need to recreate the same cleaning magic at home is Windex or a similar ammonia-based window cleaner, a stiff nylon brush (like the kind you use to wash dishes or scrub tile with), and a little bit of elbow grease.

Armed with those things, follow these steps:

  • Dampen the Fabric: Liberally spray the surface to be cleaned. You want it damp but not soaked. It is essential to dampen the entire area. If you are cleaning something large like a couch, work cushion-by-cushion, or panel-by-panel. If you don’t dampen the whole section (be it just a single stool top or the entire couch cushion), you risk water spots forming as the solution pushes oil and stains to the edges of the wet area. Always clean the whole surface even if the entire surface isn’t stained.
  • Brush It Out: Once you’ve liberally dampened the surface, grab your nylon brush and brush the microfiber in one direction such as left-to-right or top-to-bottom. Work across the entire surface once and then reverse the pattern you’re using and do it again.
  • Let It Dry: The solution should dry pretty quickly. Opening a window or pointing a fan at the fabric will help speed things along (and get that pleasant but sometimes overpowering window cleaner smell out).
  • Vacuum It:  This step isn’t technically necessary. We found as soon as the fabric was dry everything looked great, but the brushing will leave brush marks, and until you sit on the fabric a few times, there will be little “peaks” that give it a slightly rougher looking appearance and hand feel. You can either vacuum the upholstery or give it a rub down with a bare and clean hand to help settle the fibers back into place.

That’s it. You can take a set of kitchen stools, dining room chairs, or even a whole couch and ottoman from a patchwork of stains and water spots to something showroom fresh in under an hour with Windex and a brush.

Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Editor in Chief of LifeSavvy. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at LifeSavvy, Review Geek, How-To Geek, and Lifehacker. Read Full Bio »
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