How to Clean an Upholstered Bed: Step-by-Step Instructions

Upholstered bed frames can add a touch of elegance and comfort to your bedroom, but they can be difficult to take care of. Cleaning instructions vary by material, so you should check the manufacturer's instructions. Fabrics labeled W/S/X can be cleaned with water-based solvents or foam upholstery cleaner, while fabrics labeled X can only be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner and brush. Velvet and linen upholstered beds should be treated with care to remove stains, spills, and dirt as soon as possible by treating them with a mild, water-free dry-cleaning solvent and vacuuming to remove dust and dirt.

Amid the dizzying variety of bed frames to choose from today, upholstered bed frames stand out from the rest. They can add a touch of cozy elegance to your bedroom, not to mention that an upholstered headboard is much more comfortable to lean back on than a wooden one.

The downside is that these bed frames can be a bit trickier to take care of than other types of beds. However, with some forethought, it’s definitely doable and worth the effort. This guide will walk you through how to clean your upholstered bed so it remains in great condition for years to come.

Upholstered bed materials

An upholstered bed is a bed frame whose basic metal or wooden frame is covered in fabric, usually with some additional padding between the frame and the fabric, particularly in the area of the headboard.

The upholstery can be made from a variety of materials:

  • Cotton is one of the most popular materials for upholstered beds as it’s soft, inexpensive, and widely available. The downside is that cotton can get stained easily.
  • Velvet is a timeless classic that’s guaranteed to add a touch of glamour to your bedroom. For a luxury material, velvet is surprisingly durable (unlike most other fabrics, it doesn’t have loops so it doesn’t catch easily). However, velvet needs special care when it comes to cleaning.
  • Leather is another popular choice and is very easy to clean (simply wipe it down). Faux leather has many of the same properties.
  • Wool is also often found in upholstered beds. It’s durable and relatively easy to keep clean. Wool will fade after prolonged exposure to the sun, so keep your bed away from the window.
  • The main benefit of polyester (a synthetic material that’s sometimes used in upholstered beds) is that it’s durable and resistant to most stains and fading.
  • Bed frames upholstered with linen are stylish and the linen’s tight weave guarantees the bed will last you for years.

When choosing an upholstered bed, keep in mind your cleaning instructions may vary by material.

How to clean an upholstered bed

First and foremost, you should always check the manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to cleaning your upholstered bed. The bed should come with a tag that has a one-letter code on it that tells you the right way to clean it.

The codes are as follows:

  • S: Dry cleaning solvent only, no water. Use a professional dry-cleaning service if possible.
  • W: These fabrics can be cleaned with water-based solvents or foam upholstery cleaner.
  • W/S: For these fabrics, both water-based solvents and dry-cleaning solvents may be used.
  • X: You can only clean your bed with a vacuum cleaner and a brush. Don’t use any water or solvent-based cleaners as these will damage the fabric.

Fabrics labeled “W” or “S/W” are the easiest to clean. For these, you’ll want to vacuum the bed first to remove any dust and dirt. If there are any stains, you can spot-treat them as follows:

  1. Mix some lukewarm water with a small amount of dish soap (enough to see some bubbles form).
  2. Using a cloth, gently work the solution into any stains.
  3. For tougher stains, you can use a fabric cleaner spray. Simply apply it to the stain and leave it for a couple of hours. (You should test the fabric cleaner first on a small inconspicuous area of the bed frame to make sure it doesn’t cause any discoloration.)
  4. Once the area is dry (feel free to use a hairdryer to speed up this process), vacuum any residue.

Pay special attention to the headboard, which regularly comes in contact with your head and hair and so will inevitably accumulate a buildup of oil. To stop it from causing permanent damage to the headboard, do this regularly:

  1. Pour some baking soda onto the affected area and leave it for several hours, then vacuum it up. The baking soda will absorb any accumulated oils, which then get vacuumed up.
  2. Apply some dish soap and water mixture onto the fabric, using a soft cloth or a sponge, then blot the area dry with a cloth.
  3. Finally, use a clean, slightly damp sponge to gather up any soap, then follow with a dry clean cloth.

In general, try to not wait until your upholstered bed gets visibly dirty but instead stick to weekly vacuuming and spot-treating whenever necessary. In addition, you might want to add a monthly baking soda deep clean to your cleaning routine. Simply apply some to a damp cloth and work it into the upholstery, let it sit for a few hours, then vacuum up any residue.

And of course, keep in mind that some fabrics require special care when it comes to cleaning. Here’s how to clean specific materials:

How to clean velvet and linen upholstered beds

Velvet is a very resilient fabric but a very sensitive one and must be treated with care. If you have a velvet upholstered bed, remove any stains, spills, and dirt as soon as possible by treating them with a mild, water-free dry-cleaning solvent. Vacuum to remove dust and dirt. Don’t use water. Linen upholstered beds can be cleaned the same way.

How to clean leather upholstered beds

Keep the leather clean by wiping it with a dry or slightly damp microfiber cloth. Don’t use soaps or other cleaners as they may remove the natural oils that protect the leather. If you can, use distilled water. Allow the leather to air dry completely after wiping. It’s also a good idea to treat it with a quality leather conditioner about once a year to help maintain the leather’s luxurious finish.

Avoid scratching or puncturing the leather by keeping sharp or rough objects away from the bed frame, and avoid prolonged exposure to direct sunlight and direct cooling or heating elements like an AC unit or space heater. This will ensure the leather’s natural beauty and color will last for years to come.

How often should you clean an upholstered bed?

It’s a good idea to vacuum your upholstered bed every week and spot-treat it as soon as you see a stain. In addition, you might want to give it a monthly clean with baking soda. It’s also a good idea to clean your upholstered bed with the seasons. (Here’s how to clean a mattress.)


Are upholstered beds easy to clean?

An upholstered bed can be trickier to clean than wooden or metal bed frames, but it’s doable—and if you stick to a regular cleaning routine, it shouldn’t be too hard to keep it clean.

How do you clean a fabric upholstered bed?

The exact cleaning method will depend on the type of fabric. With most fabrics, you can vacuum up the dirt and spot-treat any stains with a mixture of water and dish soap or some baking soda. Some fabrics are more sensitive and can only be dry-cleaned.

Can you steam clean an upholstered bed?

Steam cleaning is generally a great way to clean upholstery as the steam helps lift stains without releasing too much moisture into the fabric. However, you should always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions before steam cleaning your upholstered bed.

Upgrade your bedroom with a Saatva upholstered bed

Santorini Bed Frame

A platform bed, with a lower profile, sleek lines, and graceful legs. Featuring plush padded edges that lend a rich look and a fully upholstered back. Available in taupe and graphite vintage velvet.

Valencia Bed Frame

A classic yet contemporary platform bed frame with deep channel tufting. Available in natural linen and taupe and graphite vintage velvet.

Amalfi Bed Frame

A tastefully grand bed frame with a timeless appeal. With a button-tufted headboard and clean side rails, this bed is versatile enough to work in a dressed-up or dressed-down space.

Get a handcrafted upholstered bed at Saatva

At Saatva, you can find a wide range of high-quality upholstered beds in a variety of styles. When you’re ready to upgrade your bedroom, you’ll be able to choose from a variety of durable, luxurious fabrics including plush velvet, natural linen, and leather.

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