How to Clean Velvet Furniture

Living room with velvet couch
Bulgac / Getty Images
Project Overview
  • Working Time: 15 mins - 1 hr, 30 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins - 8 hrs
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

Once reserved for royalty and the very wealthy, velvet furniture is now available to everyone to add a spot of elegance to your decor, and its popularity is spiking lately. Velvet furniture is plush, usually richly colored, and is relatively easy to care for.

Before you purchase a velvet couch, chair, or bed headboard, take time to find out the fiber content of the velvet and review the cleaning care tag. Velvets are woven from both cotton and synthetic fibers. If the piece will be used daily, especially by children and pets, choose a velvet made from synthetic fibers. They help repel stains easier than cotton velvet. Synthetic fibers also hold their color better if exposed to bright sunlight.

Cleaning velvet doesn't require special products or equipment, but it does take some patience and time. Here's how to keep your velvet furniture looking beautiful.

How Often to Clean Velvet Furniture

As with all upholstered furniture, velvet should be vacuumed weekly to remove dust that can weaken fibers and leave a stale odor in the upholstery. Depending on how frequently the piece is used, a clothes steamer can help lift the pile so that you don't have crushed velvet. This can be incorporated into your weekly vacuuming routine.

Attend to spills right away by blotting them with paper towels. Be sure to lift away any solid spills with a dull knife—never rub!

When the furniture begins to look dull or show signs of grit or grime, especially on the arms, it's time for deeper cleaning.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Vacuum with upholstery attachment
  • Clothes steamer
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Whisk
  • Medium bowl
  • Dull-edged knife or spatula

Materials

  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Paper towels

Instructions

  1. Vacuum Weekly

    The best attachments for vacuuming velvet upholstery are the dusting or upholstery brush and the crevice tool. Using the upholstery brush, start at the top of the chair or sofa and work in a grid to cover every area. The brush will loosen the dust and soil so it can be suctioned away.

    Use the crevice tool to clean between and under cushions and between the cushions and arms. Don't forget to vacuum the outside of the furniture and underneath.

  2. Use Steam to Remove Creases

    Just as the nap on a velvet dress or pants can become crushed or creased after sitting, so can velvet upholstery. If the creases are not removed, they can become almost permanent and leave the backing of the velvet fabric exposed.

    A handheld clothes steamer or one with a wand works great to lift the nap or pile of the velvet. Use a low heat setting to avoid damaging (melting) the fibers. Hold the steam head several inches from the fabric and move in a grid over the problem areas. Always keep the steam moving. Use your hand to gently brush the nap in the opposite direction to help release the wrinkles.

    Tip

    If you don't have a clothes steamer, you can use a steam iron. Fill the iron with water and use the steam setting. Be sure to keep the iron face at least six inches away from the velvet. NEVER allow the iron to touch the fabric, or it will leave a lasting impression.

  3. Spot Treat Stains

    As soon as spills happen, blot them away with paper towels. Keep changing to a new towel until no more moisture is absorbed.

    Lift away any solids with the edge of a dull knife and then blot any moisture. Never rub a stain, because it will push the problem deeper into the fibers.

    To spot treat any type of stain, mix a few drops of dishwashing liquid into two cups of warm water. Use a whisk to create suds. Dip a microfiber cloth into fresh water and wring until damp. Dip the damp cloth into just the suds and gently blot the stained area. Keep moving to a clean area of the cloth as the stain is transferred.

    Allow the area to air-dry. Use your hand or a steamer to lift any matted fibers.

  4. Schedule an Overall Cleaning

    There will come a point that the entire sofa or chair needs to be cleaned. An overall cleaning will leave the upholstery more even in color than continued spot cleaning.

Tips for Keeping Your Velvet Furniture Looking Good

  • Treat spills and stains as soon as they happen.
  • Vacuum the upholstery weekly to remove dust and crumbs.
  • Use steam to lift any matted pile and remove creases.
  • Test any cleaning products in a hidden area to make sure there are no color changes to the velvet.
  • Keep velvet furniture away from direct sunlight. If there are no other options, cover exposed areas with throws to help block the sun.