No piece of furniture is going to remain spotless forever. So eventually you will need a way to clean the entire piece or to spot clean a small area. Then the question becomes, How do I do this safely and still be successful in my cleaning? Here are some tips that will get you through some of the things you might incur.
First, being on a good routine vacuum program will help extend the life and cleanliness of the upholstery. When vacuuming your upholstery it is good to use an attachment that does not have a brush bar. This will insure that you will not harm a delicate fabric. Vacuuming alone can remove over 70% of the dry soil in the fabric.
Next look for a tag on the furniture that has the recommended cleaning code. There is a W for fabrics that can be cleaned with a water based cleaning solution. Then there is also a S for fabrics that can be cleaned with a solvent based (no water) cleaning solution. Once you have found the code and have selected your cleaning detergent or solvent, it is important to test it in an inconspicuous place. This may be on the back side of the skirt or back of the sofa, etc. It is also good to note that if the spot that you are trying to remove is water based and the cleaning code on the upholstery only wants you to use a water free solvent, then it would be best to call a professional at this point. A professional upholstery cleaner will have many more options available to him then the average home owner. Once you have tested an area and everything looks to be fine then go ahead and clean your spot.
Also, do not remove the foam from the cushions and wash them in a washing machine. While this might be fine with some fabrics, there are many fabrics that will shrink or the colors will run. As a professional cleaner I have seen many sofas and chairs need to be recovered because of this.
Cleaning upholstered furniture can be tricky and so if you are unsuccessful and do not fill comfortable with attempting it then it is always best to call in a professional. Look for a cleaner that is certified through the IICRC in upholstery and fabric cleaning. The IICRC trains and certifies carpet cleaners, upholstery cleaners, restoration technicians, and carpet inspectors.