You’ll Want to Make a Batch of This Effective DIY Upholstery Cleaner

While we have lots of DIY cleaner recipes in our EC arsenal, a good, reliable upholstery cleaner was missing. And now we can check it off with this new handy, effective DIY recipe for homemade upholstery cleaner.

This DIY recipe is easy to make, super effective and (you know what’s coming … ) cheap!

How to Make Upholstery Cleaner

You’ll need:

✅  cheese grater

✅  egg beater or whisk

✅  medium mixing bowl

✅  6 tablespoons grated Fels Naptha laundry bar soap*

✅  2 tablespoons borax*

✅  2 cups boiling water

Place the Fels Naptha, borax, and boiling water in the mixing bowl. Using the egg beater to whisk, carefully mix until all ingredients are dissolved and well incorporated.

Allow to sit on the counter for about 30 minutes, or until cool enough that the mixture begins to gel.

Using an egg beater, whisk, or electric mixer, whip the mixture until it looks like whipped cream or shaving cream. It will start out bubbly but then become foam.

*available in most supermarkets in the laundry aisle, or online using the links below.

To use:

By hand: I dipped a clean white terry cloth into the foaming cleaner and applied it a stain on my white sofa, then scrubbed it into the stain working in a circular motion. (For a very stubborn stain you may need to use a brush.)

I followed with a wet clean white terry cloth to rinse, then allowed it to air dry

By machine: I used my Bissell SpotClean Machine and this DIY upholstery cleaner foam on a stained chair seat to see how this would work:

First, I filled the machine reservoir with clean water. Then I applied some of the foam to the spot on the seat. Using the machine without pulling the trigger (that would normally dispense water and cleaner from the reservoir), and using only the scrubbing action, I went to work on that spot. In only a few seconds the spot was gone.

I pulled the trigger to dispense the clean water and the machine’s suction to rinse thoroughly. It worked like a charm!

 

 

How to store

This recipe makes a big batch of DIY cleaner. It’s been 18 months since I transferred the remaining amount of foamy cleaner to a food storage bowl with a tight lid. I stored it on a cupboard in my laundry room. So far it has not separated or turned to liquid, as I assumed it might. It appears to be as useful and ready-to-clean as it was when I first made it.

If you don’t want to make up more cleaner than you need for a specific job, you can easily cut this recipe in half: 3 tbsp grated Fels Nathpa, 1 tbsp borax, 1 cup boiling water.

Before and after examples

I admit that when I first discovered this recipe and cleaning method, I was skeptical. It seemed way too easy to be effective. But it works well. Check out these before and after examples brought to you by a very amateur photographer (me):

chair seat before after cleaning

Folding chair with fabric seat before and after cleaning by machine with DIY upholstery cleaner

 

White sofa seat cushion before and after cleaning by hand with DIY upholstery cleaner

 

chair seat before after cleaning

White sofa back cushion before and after cleaning by hand with DIY upholstery cleaner

Cost analysis

My actual cost to make the full recipe of this cleaner is about $.75, which is a generous estimate. Hoover Upholstery Cleaner Aerosol Spray runs about $8. While that’s a loose comparison, for a homemade product that cleans as well as it does, it’s clear to me that making it myself is just one more way to keep more money in my pocket while getting this kind of job done well.

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Homemade Upholstery Cleaner

You could go to the store and buy a good upholstery cleaner, or keep the cash and make it yourself! This quick and easy recipe is surprisingly effective. Use it to hand clean or machine clean spots and stains on upholstered furniture.
Cook Time15 mins
Cooling down30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Housekeeping, Upholstery Cleaning
Cuisine: How-To
Servings: 8 cups (approx)

Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp grated Fels Naptha Laundry Bar Soap
  • 2 tbsp borax
  • 2 cups boiling water

Instructions

  • Place the Fels Naptha, borax, and boiling water in the mixing bowl.
  • Using the egg beater to whisk, carefully mix until all ingredients are dissolved and well incorporated.
  • Allow to sit on the counter for about 30 minutes, or until cool enough that the mixture begins to gel.
  • Using an egg beater, whisk, or electric mixer, whip the mixture until it looks like whipped cream or shaving cream. It will start out bubbly but then become foam.
  • Transferred the remaining amount of foamy cleaner to a food storage bowl with a tight lid and store in a cupboard.

Notes

If you don't want to make more cleaner than you need for a specific job, you can easily cut this recipe in half: 3 tbsp grated Fels Nathpa, 1 tbsp borax, and 1 cup boiling water.

First published: 3-30-21; Updated  republished 7-29-22

 

Everyday Cheapskate participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn from qualifying purchases at no cost to you.

 

 

 

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19 replies
Newer Comments »
  1. Anita says:

    Mary,
    Is there another product to use instead of Fels Naptha as I am allergic to that product? I love all the recipes and cleaners you have given out over the years. Thank you.

    Reply
  2. Jeannie says:

    Mary, thanks for this! So timely, as I have 2 upholstered chairs that need cleaning. Years ago, I purchased the Hoover Steam carpet cleaner that you highly recommended (and I LOVE it). Can I use the brush attachment (for the rinse part) for the arms of my chairs, as you described with your Bissell?

    Reply
  3. Fantastic says:

    5 stars
    I was just getting ready to buy new fabric for my kitchen stools, due to a stubborn stain on one of them. The fabric is beige, and one of them has been stained for years, and I had tried everything to clean it. When I saw your recipe, I figured I didn’t have anything to lose, so I mixed up a batch and brushed it on. To my complete amazement, the stain is gone! This stuff is incredible! I now have a jar of it in the refrigerator and trot it out whenever I encounter a stubborn stain. Works like a champ. Thank you so much!

    Reply
  4. Janet Hall says:

    A few weeks ago I purchased the same Bissell Spot Clean Pro for the upholstery in my car. I had tried several different over products but could not get the seats clean. I used hot water only in the canister and my seats look like new!

    Reply
  5. Jeanne Anderson says:

    fels naptha and 20 mule team are my ultimate favorite go to products which have never disappointed me….thank you very much for all you do!!

    Reply
  6. Kristen says:

    Mary, can you or one of your readers tell me if that upholstery cleaner would work on rugs as a spot cleaner? I have some area rugs that need spot treatment. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      Kristen … give it a try! It can’t hurt and depending on what that stain is (remember a fresh stain is much easier t deal with than one that’s been there for awhile and settled in!

      Reply
  7. Holly says:

    Thank you for the recipe. I am eager to try it, but first I want to double check that it is OK to use my kitchen equipment that I use for food prep for mixing this up. It seems like it, but I’d love your opinion to be on the safe side.

    Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      No problem just make sure you wash the items well. Borax and soap … items found in all kinds of cleaners including those for dishwashing!

      Reply
  8. Elle says:

    One thing I dislike about commercial cleaners is they seem to leave a residue, which acts like a dirt magnet, after the initial cleaning. Is that a problem with this DIY version?

    Reply
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