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If your favorite furniture is facing an uncertain future because of dirt, spills, or stains, you need the help of an upholstery cleaner. Using the right cleaning solution or upholstery cleaning machine, you can undo the damage done by pet accidents, food messes, or everyday wear and tear on your soft surfaces.
Conventional carpet cleaners can often be used to clean upholstery, as well. Several more compact spot cleaners are especially popular for use on furniture, like the Bissell Spot Clean. For a natural approach to cleaning soft surfaces, you can also use the power of a steam cleaner. Or, choose a natural, bio-enzymatic formula.
Say goodbye to stains and spills with these top upholstery cleaners on the market now.
Best Overall: Bissell SpotClean Professional Portable Carpet Cleaner
Give your upholstery a deep clean with the power of the Bissell Spot Clean. This popular upholstery cleaner weighs 13 pounds and has a 96-ounce cleaning tank to take on couch cushions with spills and stains, dingy armchairs, or spot cleaning jobs on carpeting, stairs, and more. Since it’s a corded electric model, you’ll need a nearby outlet but will never have to worry about running out of battery power as you clean any soft surface in sight.
A 3-inch tough stain tool is designed to help you scrub and suction spots of all sorts on your furniture, while a 6-inch stair attachment gives you a helping hand on carpeted stairs. Use your favorite upholstery cleaner solution in the tank to give the machine real stain-fighting power. However, since the brush is not motorized, keep in mind that you’ll need to provide the elbow grease to make the tool effective against stubborn spots.
"The SpotClean’s impressive cleaning abilities are both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it will get out tough stains, making your carpet look fresh again. However, if the rest of the rug is also dirty, the clean spots will stand out, and you’ll probably end up needing a full-size carpet cleaner to get the rest of the surface to the same degree of clean." — Camryn Rabideau, Product Tester
Best for Stains: Folex Instant Carpet Spot Remover
This all-purpose upholstery cleaner is a star for scrubbing stains on just about any soft surface. Folex is easy to spritz on, agitate with your fingers or a small brush, then blot with a clean, absorbent cloth. Unlike other upholstery cleaners for stains, you don't need to wait several minutes or more to see results, and no rinsing is required. It's safe for any colorfast fabric, but if you have doubts regarding how the formula will affect your furniture, it's a good idea to test it on an inconspicuous surface.
"You’ll know it’s working because you’ll see the stain disappear as you spray and rub it. If it doesn’t work the first time, I repeat the steps until the stain starts to disappear. I often use more product than I think I’ll need, but it always works, and it’s inexpensive, so I don’t mind needing more." — Deanna McCormack, Product Tester
Best for Pets: Rocco & Roxie Supply Co Professional Strength Pet Stain & Odor Eliminator
Pet stains are a special breed of upholstery problems. In addition to unsightly stains, your pet’s mess might leave behind a lingering odor that is unpleasant to you but an incentive to repeat the crime to your pet. The solution is to use an upholstery cleaner with an enzymatic formula to break down the organic matter responsible for any stains and smells.
Rocco & Roxie Supply makes a professional strength upholstery cleaner with the power of active enzymes to take on urine, feces, vomit, and other pet accidents. This formula is safe on colorfast fabrics and can be used to save your favorite sitting spot from your pet’s latest ‘oops’ moment.
Best Steam: McCulloch Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner with 18 Accessories
A steam cleaner is a natural option for an upholstery cleaner that uses nothing more than water to lift stains and odors. The McCulloch MC1275 steam cleaner gives you up to 45 minutes of steam at an impressive 200 degrees and includes 18 attachments. With this tool, you’ll be able to reach every crevice of your furniture and make a pass across every pillow.
For a chemical-free way to clean your couch, pillows, and more, a steam cleaner is a popular option. If you have lingering odors, adding vinegar may enhance lifting power. Just be sure not to saturate your upholstery while using a steam cleaner.
"When used in a small and relatively clean place like a bathroom, this product works well. It’s easy to maneuver in small, awkward spaces—like grimy shower corners—and not having to hold the base saves you energy while cleaning. When used in larger spaces that have messier floors, like the kitchen, this product is less effective." — Kaitlyn Wylde, Product Tester
Best Handheld: Bissell 2837 Pet Stain Eraser PowerBrush
For a lightweight upholstery cleaner, consider the Bissell Pet Stain Eraser PowerBrush. This handheld option weighs just 4.4 pounds and is easy to maneuver in tight spots. Though it’s compact in size, it features a rotating brush that provides agitation—useful for tackling stains or soiled areas. Even households without pets will benefit from the powerful brush of this model.
As expected, this handheld upholstery cleaner makes a few sacrifices in terms of size. The 8-ounce solution tank is smaller than larger machines and it offers limited runtime, based on the charge capacity of the lithium ion battery. However, this handheld upholstery cleaner is a convenient option for quick clean-ups and does a respectable job, thanks to the powered brush agitation.
Best Upright: Hoover SmartWash Advanced Pet Automatic Upright Carpet Cleaner
Upright upholstery cleaners offer larger cleaning tanks and more suction power than some handheld models, since they’re typically designed for carpet cleaning. However, these machines make it convenient to also clean your couch, armchair, or other upholstered items quickly and easily with specialized attachments.
The Hoover Smartwash FH52000 is a great option for an upright upholstery cleaner, as it includes a 2-in-1 attachment designed for elevated cleaning tasks. This attachment can be used to provide a thorough general cleaning for your upholstery items or to provide focused treatment for spots and stains. With an 8-foot hose, you can reach the back of deep seat cushions easily while using the machine’s 1-gallon clean water tank to dispense cleaning solution.
Since your goal is to clean your upholstery, not make it dirtier, you’ll appreciate the fact that Hoover Smartwash includes a separate dirty water collection tank to keep your clean water fresh and ready for use.
Best for Leather: Weiman Leather Cleaner Wipes
Leather furniture needs regular cleaning to look its best but also needs to be moisturized to prevent cracking. Weiman Leather Cleaner Wipes are an easy, mess-free way to apply an upholstery cleaner to your leather sofa, chair, or car seats. The canister dispenses each wipe individually, keeping the rest moist and ready for future use.
This formula uses a blend of three natural oils to clean, moisturize, and protect leather surfaces. The minimal amount of moisture applied by each wipe dries quickly and doesn’t leave behind any residue. Note that it shouldn’t be used on suede or untreated leather.
Best for Cars: Hoover BH12010 ONEPWR Spotless GO Upholstery Cleaner
A cordless upholstery cleaner, like the Hoover ONEPWR Spotless GO, is a convenient way to keep your car seats and carpet looking great. This upholstery cleaner for cars stands out with its cordless design, which means you won’t need a nearby outlet to power up this machine. Instead, a lithium ion battery provides about 20 minutes of run time. This may sound like limited power, but it’s great for quick cleaning sessions after a spilled cup of coffee or transporting the kids home from a muddy sporting event.
At 13 x 10 x 15 inches, this is one of the most compact upholstery cleaners on the market. Keep it in your trunk for cleaning up messes on the go, or stow it away in your garage for a quick fix when you return home.
Best Solution: Hoover CleanPlus Concentrated Solution
Upholstery cleaning machines are usually paired with a cleaning solution to give the most effective lift to stains and soil. Hoover CleanPlus is a popular pick for a concentrated formula that can be used in any type of carpet or upholstery cleaning machine.
This upholstery cleaning solution is safe for upholstery fabrics marked with a ‘W’ or ‘WS’ for care instructions. It’s also a good idea to spot test in a concealed area if you’re concerned about colorfastness. Once applied, however, Hoover CleanPlus delivers a powerful clean that enhances the action of your upholstery cleaning machine.
Best Natural: Earthworm Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner
A natural upholstery cleaner gives you the upper hand against stains and dirt, without resorting to harsh chemicals. Earthworm Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner is a bio-enzymatic cleaner that naturally breaks down organic materials, making it ideal for ridding upholstery of stains from food, blood, wine, pet waste and more. This upholstery cleaner is also fragrance-free, making it a good choice if you’re sensitive to strongly scented cleaning products.
The Bissell SpotClean is small enough to be easily accessible but powerful enough to improve the appearance of your couch, chairs, car upholstery, and more. Use its 3-inch tool to get rid of stains and spills, or the 6-inch tool to give carpeted stairs a quick and easy clean. As a natural alternative to an upholstery cleaning machine, you'll find that the spray-on formula of Earthworm Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner (view on Amazon) is effective when used on soft surfaces that have been soiled by organic materials (like food, grease, blood, vomit, and more).
What to Look for in a Upholstery Cleaner
Of course, the most important thing you want in an upholstery cleaner is results. Whether you have tough stains or just want one for regular upkeep of your furniture, your needs will determine how powerful a model you should choose.
The type of upholstery you’re planning to clean, as well as its location, will determine what size cleaner may best fit your needs. If it’s for your home’s couches and chairs, a larger model may work, but if you’re planning to use it to clean your car seats or take it on the go, you may want to find a smaller, more portable option.
While some upholstery cleaners are just made for surfaces like your couch and chairs, others can tackle your rugs and carpets, too. Some models come with a variety of attachments to tackle various jobs. There are even some steam cleaners that will produce a professional-grade clean without using any chemicals. Consider the type of upholstery you want to clean, as well as your budget, when thinking about what types of functionality are important to you.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Delivering spot-on advice and the latest innovations in cleaning products and technology, Erica Puisis has been researching home products for The Spruce since 2017. During the days of housetraining a puppy or to deal with spills and stains from dinner, a bottle of Folex Instant Carpet Spot Remover is an absolute necessity in her cleaning closet!