How to Clean Velvet Furniture, According to an Expert
From spot cleaning to steaming, here's how to keep your velvet upholstery looking luxe over time.
For as beautiful as velvet upholstery looks, caring for it can be tricky. "Velvet has a reputation for being a fussy and high-maintenance fabric," says Zoe Garred, director of product development at Article. "However, while it looks luxe, velvet isn't much more difficult to clean and maintain than other fabrics or materials."
So, how does one ensure that their velvet furniture continues to look great over time? For starters, Garred suggests sticking with easy-to-clean types when picking out pieces. "Take the type of velvet into consideration before you purchase," she says. "While cotton and synthetic velvet are equally beautiful, we tend to recommend synthetic for customers with kids or pets since it's much easier to care for. We've found that stains on synthetic types don't soak in as deep and the color doesn't fade as much in direct sunlight, compared to cotton velvet." Now that you know what type of velvet to look for when shopping, learn how to properly clean and care for your velvet furniture once you bring it home.
Spot clean immediately after spills.
Never underestimate the impact of spot-cleaning velvet upholstery. "Always soak up spills immediately with a clean, absorbent cloth or paper towel, but be careful not to dab or rub as this will push the liquid deeper into the fibers," Garred says. "I'd suggest leaving the cloth on the spill until all the liquid has been absorbed and letting it air dry. If you catch it in time, it should look good as new."
Since velvet has a higher pile (taller strands of fabric on its surface), Garred says it has the tendency to compress—often appearing as a crease or a white stain—when under pressure for long periods of time. "Steaming velvet fabric is a great way to keep it clean and avoid velvet compression," she says. "To remove compression, simply steam the creases out with a steamer or the steam setting on your iron, and gently brush in the opposite direction of the pile to release the wrinkles. Be sure your steamer is set on low to avoid damaging the fabric."
Keep a vacuum handy.
In order to ensure your velvet upholstery stays fresh-looking between spot cleaning and steaming sessions, Garred recommends vacuuming it regularly. "Day-to-day maintenance is as simple as vacuuming the furniture with a fabric attachment to clean up any dust, crumbs, or lint left behind," she says. "Always vacuum gently to avoid wearing the fabric."
DIY a velvet-safe cleaning solution.
For heavier spills and stains, Garred says you can easily create your own cleaning solution by mixing a drop or two of dishwashing liquid with a cup of water. "Simply shake the container to create some frothy bubbles, take your cloth, and dip it in just the suds," she says. "Then, lightly blot the stain with the sudsy cloth until you've removed as much of the stain as you can."
Like it or not, Garred says certain kinds of velvet upholstery fabrics, particularly cotton velvet, are especially prone to fading when exposed to sunlight. "To avoid it, protect your furniture by selecting a space that isn't in direct sunlight," she says. "If that's not possible, you can drape a throw blanket over the exposed areas to protect it and keep your furniture looking bright."