How to Clean an Upholstered Bar Stool

a line of bar stools at a bar
  • 1-6 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-60
What You'll Need
Baking soda
Warm water
Soft cloth/rag
Gentle soap/detergent
Soft bristle brush
Hairspray or rubbing alcohol

Cleaning your upholstered bar stools regularly will contribute to their longevity and attractiveness. To clean most types of upholstery – fabric, vinyl, synthetic or leather – the materials you’ll need are the same, though the way you’ll treat them varies slightly.

Step 1 – Identify Stains

Before you attack your bar stool, first see what you’re trying to scrub off. Is it simply dirt? If so, warm water and a soft cloth will get out dirt on all types of upholstery. With leather, you want to use less water and make sure to dry thoroughly and quickly.

Take your soft cloth, a little warm water and soap, and run over dirt and light stains. If the stain doesn’t come off, try to identify it. Ink, oil and grease are common culprits that will have to be dealt with a little differently.

Step 2 – Check for Odors

If you notice that your upholstery is emitting an unsavory odor, you can dampen the surface and sprinkle a little baking soda. Allow the baking soda to sit for a few minutes and then wipe off.

Odor still there? You may have mold or mildew in either the cushion stuffing or on the upholstery. Bleach is one of the best ways to get mold and mildew off fabric, but it can ruin fabrics. If you want to use bleach, spot test a patch of fabric to make sure it won’t discolor.

Step 3 – Scrub Out Oil or Grease

Oil and grease stains require a little more work, but you can usually get them out. For this job, you’ll need a soft bristle brush and some mild detergent or soap. Using the brush, gently scrub over the oil or grease in a circular pattern until the stain lightens.

Note that there are times when a stain is too settled into the fiber to come out. In this case, it’s best to replace the fabric, as too much scrubbing can warp some types of upholstery.

Step 4 – Rub Away Ink

If you have ink stains on your bar stool upholstery, the key to getting them out is patience. There are a few methods that will work on ink stains, but try hairspray or rubbing alcohol first.

Spray hairspray on the stain and let sit. Try to rub out with a towel. If that doesn’t work, try treating it with rubbing alcohol the same way – apply, let sit and try to rub out.

Step 5 – Treat Leather

If you have bar stools upholstered in leather, you can clean it with saddle soap and then treat it with oil. Don’t use any sort of industrial cleaner on leather unless it is specifically designed for that type of fabric. Saddle soap is the easiest and safest bet if you have tougher stains or dirt.

Step 6 – Apply Stain Guard

After you’ve cleaned your upholstery, spray on a stain guard to keep the tougher, harder to cleans stains out. Make sure you get a stain guard that will be effective on your type of fabric.

Before using any chemical cleaning solutions or bleach, make sure you test it on a small patch of fabric first. If there’s any discoloring, you know to try something else.