How to Clean a Recliner? Easy Steps to Follow + Care Tips

by Andrew Smith| Last Updated: January 6, 2021

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Does your recliner smell or have tough stains and spills? A recliner chair is everybody’s favorite spot for comfort and luxury, hence prone to dirt, stains, spills, and even pet dander. Moreover, cleaning can be challenging due to their mechanisms and designs. Besides, the dry, wet wipes and regular vacuuming may not be enough to maintain its freshness.

Worry not! There is always a way out; hence, there is no need to call professional cleaners to do the job. In this article, we have different methods of deep cleaning your leather or microfiber recliners.

Read on.

Vacuum Your Upholstery

Regardless of the type of material, always begin by vacuuming your recliner as the first step of cleaning. Vacuuming will help lift the loose dirt and stains from the cushions to make your cleaning process more manageable. Besides, what’s the need for lovely cushions filled with filthy dust?

Please vacuum your recliner regularly to prevent grime build-up. When grime builds-up, it can be challenging to clean it off, causing discoloring or staining to the chair.

While vacuuming, make sure you clean the whole chair. The electrical or motorized recliners can be heavy to flip over; therefore, ask for assistance to avoid accidents. Vacuuming the entire chair is necessary to trap dust in the reclining mechanism, thus causing problems later.

Related: 8 Best Extra Wide Recliner Reviews

Cleaning Upholstered Recliners

The type of material on your recliner will determine the method of cleaning. After establishing the type of material, several factors come into play. For instance;

  • The type of dirt
  • Time available for cleaning
  • Tools and products available

With all the above clarified, you can choose the cleaning methods.

  • Water-safe upholstery
  • Solvent-safe upholstery
  • Vinegar
  • Steam cleaning

Water-Safe Upholstery

Some recliners only require cleaning with water for durability. If you happen to clean using solvent-based cleaners, then you risk damaging the material. Hence you will have to endure the damage for as long as it takes or buying a new recliner (Go to our recliner buying guide).

How can you tell whether the particular material is for water cleaning? Each recliner comes with a manufacturer’s instructions of care. Make sure you follow the instructions to avoid destroying your favorite chair. Steps of cleaning water-safe upholstery after vacuuming are as follows;

  1. Mix warm water and dish soap or any mild detergent in a bucket.
  2. Wring out a clean piece of cloth in between passes as you wipe the upholstery.
  3. In case of tough stains or discoloration, use a bristle brush or use force with the cloth to scrub deeply.
  4. Use another piece of cloth in plain water; wipe out any excess soap remnants from the recliner.
  5. Use a dry towel to wipe any water from the material.
  6. Allow the chair to dry completely before using it.

Solvent-Safe Upholstery

If your recliner care manual shows that it needs cleaning with solvent-based cleaners, you should buy the products the same day you buy the chair. This way, you will be ready when the task comes calling. Whatever cleaning agent you buy, make sure you follow instructions of mixing before avoiding any destruction. Before you start cleaning, as always, vacuum the recliner, then follow the steps below.

  1. Spray the recliner all-over with the solvent-based cleaner and allow it to rest for the recommended period.
  2. Use a soft brush and scrub the dirt or stain away thoroughly.
  3. Wipe any dirt or residue of the scrubbed dirt using a wet rag.
  4. Soak up excess water using a towel.
  5. Allow the recliner to dry entirely for some time.

Vinegar Cleaning

Vinegar is a proper and effective household cleaning agent. However, you must use it moderately to avoid ‘burning’ the fabric and leaving an unpleasant smell. The unpleasant smell can be challenging to get rid of as it penetrates deep into the recliner’s foam. After vacuuming your recliner, use the vinegar solution as follows;

  1. Mix white vinegar with warm water in a ratio of 1:1.
  2. Deep a clean rag in the solution and apply just enough (not too much or too little) to allow the vinegar to lift the dirt and stains.
  3. If the dirt is not loose, reapply the solution dabbing on the stains. Do not scrub.
  4. After the vinegar solution evaporates, use a wet rag and wipe excess dirt from the material.
  5. Allow the chair to dry any excess water before using it completely.


Steam cleaning is effective in removing the smell and deep tough stain from the recliner. However, because it needs a steam cleaner for the task, you must be conversant about operating it. Steam can be dangerous and burn if you do not handle it with caution. As always, remove loose dirt by vacuuming before you begin the steps below.

  1. To make sure the fabric does not react negatively to this cleaning method, test a small part of the recliner.
  2. Use the correct mixture of the cleaning solution and steam cleaner to clean with even and smooth strokes.
  3. Do not wet the fabric excessively but somewhat damp.
  4. To make sure you don’t miss any spot, clean systematically, a section after another.
  5. After steam cleaning the entire recliner, allow it to dry for over 4 hours.

Cleaning Faux Leather and Vinyl Recliners

Faux leather and vinyl recliners are affordable than real leather hence a better buy for most homes. However, they also accumulate dust and stains. They need a deep cleaning once in a while apart from the regular wiping. Remember that excess water can cause these materials to crack.

If you happen to own any of these two recliner materials, below are the two cleaning methods.

Mild Detergent Solution

  1. Mix water and mild soap in a bucket.
  2. Use a clean rag, deep it in water, wring out the excess water, and wipe the chair’s smooth surface.
  3. Make sure you wipe thoroughly, even in the folds of the entire chair.
  4. After warm soapy water passes, use fresh water to wipe the soapy residue.
  5. Use a dry fabric towel or paper towel to wipe any excess water and dry the surface.
  6. Allow the recliner a few minutes to dry completely.

CAUTION: Do not get the material too wet as it can cause damage after some time.


For some extra cost, there are unique polishes, especially for vinyl or faux leather materials. These polishes are no substitute for cleaning with soapy water, but they help protect the material and retain the luster. To apply the polish, make sure the recliner is completely dry from the warm soapy water cleaning. Then, use a clean rag and apply the polish all over the chair, gently rubbing it in. However, remember that each polish has its own manufacturer’s instructions for use. Make sure it does not remain in the folds and corners of the chair.

Cleaning Real Leather Recliners

Since it is more expensive than any other type of material, many people opt to seek professional cleaning services than risk damaging. However, it is possible to DIY cleaning if you select a leather recliner and follow the instructions below.

  • Use a balanced ratio to mix water and white vinegar in a bucket.
  • With a clean cloth dipped in the solution, wipe the entire leather recliner.
  • Dry the excess solution making sure no moisture remains in the corners to avoid damage later in time.
  • Use a special leather cream to maintain the material lustrous and healthy for an extended period every time you clean the recliner.

How to Deep Clean A Recliner

Although regular maintenance keeps your recliner looking elegant, it may not take care of the deeply embedded stains and dirt. Hence the importance of deep cleaning your recliner.

Most people seek the surfaces of a professional cleaner to deep clean their furniture. However, you can still do it yourself and save a chunk of money.

Here are two methods that you can personally deep clean a recliner.

1. Deep Cleaning Your Recliner Using Baking Soda

What you’ll need

  • 2 soft cleaning cloths
  • A stiff brush
  • A vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment
  • Baking soda

Here is a step-by-step procedure on how to deep clean a recliner with baking soda.

  1. Spot test

Although baking soda is safe on most upholstery, it’s still important to test if it reacts to your upholstery. Test it on an inconspicuous area to ensure it does not cause discoloration.

  1. Brush your recliner

Using the stiff brush, brush away the dust, crumbs, and other loose debris.

  1. Apply the baking soda

Sprinkle a considerable amount of baking soda on your recliner and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. You can also mis the baking soda with a dry carpet cleaner for even deeper cleaning.

The baking soda will miraculously absorb any moisture in your recliner and get rid of stains. It also eliminates the foul odor caused by spillages, dirt, and pet dander, leaving your recliner smelling fresh.

  1. Vacuum the surface

Vacuum the recliner with the brush attachment of the vacuum cleaner to remove the baking soda. Ensure that you get into all the nooks and crannies of the recliner.

  1. Deal with embedded stains

For stubborn stains, use a recommended solution for your type of upholstery and a clean cloth to blot out the stains.

For fabric upholstery, you can remove the stains using the following mixture.

  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • ¾ cup of warm water
  • One tablespoon dish soap

(For synthetic upholstery, use 1 cup of water, ½ tablespoon of dish soap, and ½ cup vinegar)

  1. Blot the stain out

Add the ingredients into a spray bottle and spray the affected area. Use a clean cloth to wipe the stain out.

2. Shampooing your recliner

For an even deeper clean, consider using steam or a carpet cleaner to shampoo your recliner. Steam cleaners are safe for most upholstery materials except for suede.

Follow the following steps to shampoo your recliner

  1. Vacuum the entire recliner to remove any dust and debris. Pay close attention to the crevices. You won’t believe the amount of dirt that hides In there.
  2. Fill the cleaning machine of your choice with clean water and a cleaning agent that works best for your recliner’s upholstery fabric type.
  3. Clean your recliner by pulling the back in a straight and even movement. Follow the grain of the fabric if applicable.

How To Clean A Cloth Recliner

Careless spills and soil are part of the everyday life of a recliner. To keep it in mint condition, you should wash it regularly.

Some cloth upholstery, otherwise known as fabric upholstery, are removable and machine washable. For the undetachable fabric upholstery, you can use the following steps to clean them yourself.

What you’ll need

  • A vacuum cleaner with upholstery attachments
  • A soft upholstery brush
  • A clean cloth
  • Upholstery stain remover
  • Gentle dish soap
  • Warm water
  • Rubber gloves


  1. Loose up the dirt

Put on the rubber gloves and run your hand over the upholstery to loosen up any dried-up dirt or pet hair for easier vacuuming.

  1. Vacuum the upholstery

Vacuum the surface of your recliner using the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner. Change the nozzle to the crevice nozzle, and vacuum under the cushions and in-between crevices.

  1. Deal with the stains

Remove the stains with either a solvent or water-based cleaner, depending on your upholstery fabric care instructions.

Let the cleaning solution sit in for a few minutes before blotting the stain with a clean cloth. Avoid scrubbing the affecting area as that may spread the stain. Use gentle circular motions instead.

You should know that some stains require more than one application of the stain removing agent to clear out completely. Some of these tougher stains include blood, ink, and grease stains.

  1. Time to clean the upholstery

After successfully removing the stain, it’s time to wash the upholstery.

Add a bit of water and a half-teaspoon of dish soap in a small pail and then froth the mixture until it foams. Dip the upholstery brush into the foam and run it across the recliner’s upholstery, taking care not to soak the upholstery.

Rinse the upholstery with a damp cloth to finish up the job. Ensure that the upholstery is dry before you sit on it.

Care Tips of a Recliner

  • Use a vacuum cleaner weekly to remove any dust and lose stains.
  • Depending on the level of dirt and smell on your recliner, deep cleaning should be after twice a year.
  • In case of accidental spills and stains, spot treat the dirty area immediately.
  • Avoid pets and children spending a long time on the upholstered recliners.
  • In case of polishing or conditioning, make sure you do it on the entire recliner to avoid noticeable color differences.
  • It would be better to use unique products for the specific materials while cleaning to ensure the recliner’s prolonged life.
  • Also, here is an easy way of repairing different parts of your recliner.


Despite the type of material and recliner you have, take care of it, and it will return the favor. The bottom line is, reacting promptly to the spills and stains will reduce the number of in-depth cleaning sessions yearly. Also, make a habit of regular vacuuming, even the reclining mechanism, to operate all the time smoothly.

In case you are looking for a new recliner, check out our best reviews of the different types of recliners currently in the market to fit any budget.

For years of comfort, clean, and care for your recliner!