How to Clean Stains on Upholstered Headboard

The hardest part about owning upholstered furniture is keeping it looking fresh and stain-free. No matter how careful you are, spills, dirt, and grime can accumulate over time, leaving behind stubborn stains that seem impossible to remove.

How to Clean Stains on Upholstered Headboard

As the owner of an attractive upholstered headboard that has seen better days, I know the frustration of living with an eyesore in your bedroom. That’s why I’m sharing my secrets for how to clean stains from upholstery so your headboard (or sofa or chairs) can look as good as new.

In this post, I’ll show you the tools and techniques I’ve developed through trial and error to safely and effectively lift out those mystery stains you thought you’d need to replace the entire headboard.

Read on to find out how to clean stains on upholstered headboard.

What Will You Need?

Before we dive into the specific cleaning techniques, let’s go over what you’ll need to get started. Having the right tools and materials will make the process smoother and more effective. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment
  • A soft-bristled brush or cloth
  • An upholstery cleaning solution (store-bought or homemade)
  • Distilled water
  • White vinegar
  • A clean cloth or sponge

Now that you need everything, let’s start tackling those stubborn stains. Follow these steps, and your headboard will look like new in no time.

10 Easy Steps on How to Clean Stains on Upholstered Headboard

1. Test on a Small Area

Before applying any cleaner to the entire headboard, test it on a small, inconspicuous area first. This will ensure that the cleaner does not cause any damage or discoloration to your upholstered headboard. If there are no adverse effects, proceed with cleaning the entire headboard.

2. Spot Clean

If dealing with a specific stain, such as food or drink spills, start by spot-cleaning the affected area. Mix a small amount of mild detergent or upholstery cleaner with warm water and apply it to the stain using a clean cloth. Gently blot the stain until it lifts off the fabric.

Using a Clean Cloth

3. Deep Clean

For overall cleaning of your upholstered headboard, use the upholstery attachment on your vacuum to remove any loose dirt or debris from the surface. Then mix equal parts mild detergent and warm water in a bucket and use a clean cloth to scrub the entire headboard gently. Be sure to rinse with clean water afterward and allow it to air dry completely before using it again.

4. Prevent Future Stains

Consider using a fabric protector spray after cleaning to prevent future stains on your upholstered headboard. This will help repel liquids and make it easier to remove any spills or stains that may occur in the future. Avoid eating or drinking in bed to minimize the risk of spills.

5. Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance is vital in keeping your upholstered headboard in top condition. Dust it regularly using a soft cloth or the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner. Alternatively, lightly brush the fabric with a soft-bristled brush to keep it dust-free. Maintaining a regular cleaning schedule will significantly reduce the chances of stubborn stains and keep your headboard looking fresh and clean.

6. Dealing with Tough Stains

Tough stains like ink or wine may require a more targeted approach. A well-known remedy for ink stains is using rubbing alcohol. Apply a small amount of alcohol on a clean cloth and gently dab the stain. Do not rub, as this can cause the ink to spread. Rinse thoroughly with a cloth dampened in clean water. A mixture of distilled water and white vinegar can be used for wine or other tannin stains. Apply the solution to the color and blot with a clean cloth until the stain lifts. Rinse thoroughly with a cloth dampened in clean water. Always test these methods on an inconspicuous area first to ensure they will protect your headboard’s fabric.

Using Rubbing Alcohol

7. Dry Cleaning Method

For stubborn or old stains that do not respond to previous treatments, consider using a dry cleaning solvent. These are available at most supermarkets or online. Apply a small amount of the solvent to a clean cloth and gently blot the stain. It is crucial to handle these solvents with care as they can be potent. Always use it in a well-ventilated area and keep it out of reach from children. Rinse thoroughly with a cloth dampened in clean water after use. Remember to test on an inconspicuous area first to ensure it won’t damage your headboard’s fabric.

8. Steam Cleaning Method

A steam cleaner can be an excellent tool for cleaning upholstered headboards, particularly for deep-set or stubborn stains. Ensure you use an upholstery-friendly attachment and follow the instructions provided with your steam cleaner. Start with a small, hidden area to ensure the steam won’t damage your fabric.

With the steam cleaner, you can penetrate deep into the fabric fibers, loosening dirt and stains and making them easier to remove. Once done, allow the headboard to dry thoroughly before using it again. Do not use a steam cleaner on fabrics that are not heat-friendly or delicate fabrics like silk.

9. Air Dry

After your upholstery cleaning efforts, letting your headboard air dry completely is essential. Do not use a hair dryer or heater to expedite the process, as it can cause shrinkage or damage to the fabric. Instead, open windows or use a fan to circulate air around the room and speed up drying.

If weather permits, consider moving the headboard outside to dry in the sun. Once the headboard is completely dry, fluff up the upholstery fabric with your hands to restore its original texture.

10. Regular Inspection

Lastly, make it a habit to routinely inspect your upholstered headboard for any signs of stains, spots, or dirt accumulation. Catching stains early on can make cleaning significantly easier and prevent them from setting deep into the fabric.

If any colors show up during your inspection, carry out the relevant cleaning steps as soon as possible. This proactive measure will help to maintain your headboard in pristine condition, extending its longevity and preserving its aesthetic appeal.

By following these simple steps, you can effectively clean stains on your upholstered headboard and keep it looking brand new.

Inspect Your Upholstered Headboard

5 Additional Tips and Tricks

  1. Use a Stain Remover: If your upholstered headboard has a stubborn stain that won’t come off, consider using a stain remover specifically designed for upholstery. Always test on a hidden area first to ensure it doesn’t discolor the fabric.
  2. Keep it Dry: Moisture can easily damage your upholstered headboard, so it’s important to keep it dry. If you’ve spilled any liquid on the headboard, gently blot the area with a clean cloth and avoid rubbing.
  3. Regular Vacuuming: Regularly vacuum your upholstered headboard to prevent accumulation of dust and dirt, which can lead to staining.
  4. Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Avoid using harsh chemicals that might damage the fabric. Instead, use mild cleaning agents or natural solutions like baking soda or vinegar.
  5. Professional Cleaning: When in doubt, turn to professionals. If you’re unsure how to clean stains on your upholstered headboard, professional cleaning services can be a safe and effective option.

With these additional tips and tricks, you can keep your upholstered headboard looking clean and fresh for years.

5 Things You Should Avoid

Scrubbing Can Worsen the Stain
  1. Scrubbing the Fabric: When a stain occurs, you might be tempted to scrub it off. However, scrubbing can worsen the stain and damage the fabric. Always blot instead.
  2. Ignoring the Stain: The longer a stain sits, the harder it is to remove. Always act immediately when a spill or stain happens.
  3. Excessive Water Use: While water can be a cleaning aid, too much of it can lead to water stains and damage the fabric. Use sparingly and dry thoroughly.
  4. Using Uncertified Cleaning Products: Always ensure any cleaning product you use is certified as safe for upholstery. Uncertified products may contain harsh chemicals that can damage the fabric.
  5. Skipping Maintenance: Regular vacuuming and occasional professional cleaning can prolong the lifespan of your upholstered headboard. Ignoring these steps can lead to wear and tear over time.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can effectively clean stains on your upholstered headboard and maintain its appearance for years.


After diving into how to clean stains on upholstered headboard, we have explored various methods and techniques to tackle stubborn stains effectively. From using simple household products like vinegar and baking soda to investing in specialized upholstery cleaners, we have discovered many solutions to fit budget and time constraints.

As we conclude this post, it is essential to remember the key takeaways – always spot test before applying any product on your headboard, be patient and persistent with stains, and don’t be afraid to seek professional help. Remember, a clean and well-maintained headboard can greatly enhance the overall aesthetic of your bedroom.

So, take the time and effort to keep it looking pristine. And for those who are still skeptical about cleaning their headboard or just need more time for it, consider hiring a professional cleaning service. Trust me, it will be worth every penny. Happy cleaning!

Photo of author

Adrian Green

Adrian is a woodworking hobbyist and has loved Woodworking since he was 10 years old. Back then in childhood, his father used to have a furniture shop. He used to help his dad and learned a lot from him about how to fix woodworking furniture, basic carpentry knowledge and also about how to work hard and take care of business. He enjoys woodworking as a hobby. He loves the feeling of creating something with his own hands, and the satisfaction that comes from seeing his finished products used by others.

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