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
✅ 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.
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):
White sofa back cushion before and after cleaning by hand with DIY upholstery cleaner
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.
Homemade Upholstery Cleaner
- 6 tbsp grated Fels Naptha Laundry Bar Soap
- 2 tbsp 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.
- Transferred the remaining amount of foamy cleaner to a food storage bowl with a tight lid and store in a cupboard.
First published: 3-30-21; Updated republished 7-29-22
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