Getting Fun Foods Out of Furniture Upholstery

Summer time brings with it many fun foods, from pizza and soda to ice cream and popsicles. While fun to enjoy on a hot summer day, many of these foods can spell trouble for furniture upholstery. When sticky fingers and dripping snacks find their way onto the couch cushions, don’t despair – these simple techniques can be surprisingly effective. And don’t act too quickly before doing your research; some well-intentioned attempts to clean a spot may push the stain deeper, setting it into the fabric permanently. 

With any cleaning technique that you’ve never tried on a piece of furniture, it is important to test it on a small, unnoticeable area before attacking the stain itself, just to make sure it won’t harm the material. These tips are made with fabric upholstery in mind; for leather and other specialized materials, check the manufacturer’s website for tips on safe cleaning. 

Popsicles, Soda, and Other Colorful Stains

Colored food dyes are present in many of the foods we eat, especially frozen treats and fizzy drinks that are often spilled in the summertime. When a spill happens, leaving dye on your beautiful upholstery, don’t panic: follow these simple steps to remove the stain.

  • Blot out what you can. If the stain is still fresh and wet, use a clean white rag to soak up what you can from the upholstery.
  • Mix two cups cold water with one tablespoon dishwashing liquid or laundry detergent. If the stain you’re trying to remove contains red, orange, or purple dyes, add a tablespoon of white vinegar to the mixture.
  • Apply generously and blot. Use a sponge to dab the mixture onto the stain, and don’t be shy: get the spot as wet as you need to remove the stain. If it’s an older stain, you may want to leave the solution to set for 30 minutes or so before blotting it out. Use a clean white rag to blot the spot until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  • Repeat as needed. If the stain persists, reapply the solution and blot it dry until it fades. Many stains, especially from brightly colored foods, will need this treatment 2-3 times to be effective. 

Pizza Parties and Taco Tuesday: Oily Grease Stains

Pizza and tacos are two summertime favorites, but they also have something else in common: grease. Most stain removal techniques rely on water, but the oil in these foods are hydrophobic, meaning a different approach is necessary. To remove tough grease stains from furniture upholstery, follow these steps:

  • Remove excess dried grease. If dried grease is present, scrap it off gently with a plastic utensil before proceeding to the next step. Be careful – you don’t want to spread the stain, so work gently and don’t be determined to remove too much of the stain with this step.
  • Sprinkle generously with baking powder, talcum powder, or cornstarch. These powders are highly absorbent, and can help to pull the grease out of the furniture. Leave it to sit for about 15 minutes.
  • Vacuum. After 15 minutes is up, use a handheld vacuum to suck up the powder and with it the grease stain.
  • Dab a liquid cleaner with a clean rag. To remove any remaining stain, apply any of the following to a clean white rag: grease-cutting dishwashing soap, dry-cleaning solvent, 1:1 solution of water and ammonia, or water mixed with 3% hydrogen peroxide. Blot continuously onto the stain until it lifts. 
  • Repeat as needed. If the stain persists, go back to the second step and repeat as necessary. 

Know When to Call the Professionals

For stains that just won’t seem to budge, it is time to call a professional cleaning service. At COIT, our team is experienced in removing those hard-to-clean stains from furniture upholstery, carpets, and drapes. In addition to food stains, a professional cleaning will remove dust, pollen, and other debris from your home. Our professional team can help you have healthier indoor air by removing dust and dirt, as well resolving those stubborn stains.