Cleaning Guides

Expert Tips: How to Properly Clean Your Upholstered Headboard

People say bedroom furniture is not complete without a headboard. Having an upholstered headboard on your bed adds both a luxury and cosy feel to your bedroom. Subdued or over-the-top, modern or in a renaissance style, sooner or later, there will come a time to clean it and maintain its look in top condition.

Quick Walkthrough

So, if you:

  • Own a bed with an upholstered headboard;
  • Are looking for cleaning and maintenance tips;
  • Are wondering how to clean a specific type of fabric,

Then keep reading! This article will answer your questions.

The most common way a headboard gets dirty is through the constant touch with our skin and hair. As a consequence, skin oil, sweat, as well as make-up and hair products gradually accumulate in the fabric, making a regular cleaning routine a must. So, let’s dive in and learn how to maintain and clean fabric headboards and take care of all common stains, having in mind the specifics of each fabric.

Types of upholstered headboards

There is a wide variety of fabric headboards and there are slight differences in the approach you should take when cleaning and maintaining them. Here are the main upholstered headboard styles:

  • Freestanding. This type comes separate from the main bed frame, yet can be attached to the wall or the bed frame if you choose to do so.
  • Fixed. As the name suggests, a fixed upholstered headboard, also called wall-mounted headboard, is mounted directly to the wall and gives your bedroom that chic look. In some cases, fixed headboards have the upholstery directly placed on the wall with a wooden moulding around.
  • Wood-framed. Again the name says it all, this design always has a wooden framework that encompasses the upholstered surface.
  • Straight. This design is simple and straightforward, almost always rectangular in shape. It gives a clean look and is the best type when you want to bring out the contrast of an amazing fabric or a print.
  • Wingback. Similar to other wingback furniture, upholstered wingback headboards have ‘wings’ which now are mostly used for decorative purposes, whereas in the past, they were meant to trap air near the bed to keep it warmer, making it suitable for colder climates and mountain properties.
  • Tufted. Same as tufted couches, tufted headboards have buttoned upholstery stapled in different shapes, bringing extra elegance to the bed piece.

The supplies and tools you’ll need to clean your headboard

Depending on the type of fabric your upholstered headboard is made of, you’ll need a combination of the following cleaning supplies:

  • A vacuum cleaner, preferably with a steam cleaning feature and an upholstery brush;
  • Fabric cleaner spray;
  • Baking soda and white vinegar;
  • Distilled water;
  • A moisturising soap and a mild detergent;
  • Baby powder;
  • Dry white cloth and paper towels;
  • A bucket to mix your homemade cleaning solution;
  • Your favourite essential oil.

Ways to clean upholstered headboards, based on the type of fabric

Now that you know the types of upholstered headboard designs and the tools you’ll need, let’s go through each of the most commonly used fabrics and learn how to clean them properly:

How to clean velvet headboards

Time needed: 15 minutes.

Choosing a velvet headboard adds elegance to your furniture and shows your bold character. If in a bright colour, however, any discolouration will be much more visible. So, taking extra care of your velvet upholstered headboard is a must if you want to enjoy it for longer. Use the following steps to clean stains from velvet fabric:

  1. Remove excess moisture.

    If the stain is liquid, soak it with a paper towel or a dry white cloth.

  2. Blot with a mild detergent mix.

    Similar to cleaning linen, make a mix of mild detergent and water and use the sudsy foam to blot the stain gently.

  3. Or, try with an eco-friendly option.

    Another homemade option is to mix lemon juice with baking soda to create foamy texture. Use straight movements along with the nap and never rub.

  4. Dry out the spot.

    Blot out with a dry cloth and use a hairdryer to dry the area faster.

To prolong the life of your velvet headboard, avoid direct sunlight, especially if it’s bright-coloured.

How to clean a wool headboard

Wool is a natural fabric, preferred in colder climates, due to its warm and soft texture. It is resistant to wrinkling, fading and peeling. Oftentimes, the wool is combined with synthetic fibres to make it easier to clean. So, inspect the label of your headboard before you start cleaning it.

In most cases, the best way to clean this type of cloth headboard is by steam cleaning, as they retain water, making any type of wet cleaning an undesirable option.

How to clean a linen headboard

Linen is also a natural fabric and is known to brown, become brittle and dry slowly. To clean linen headboards, do the following:

  1. Vacuum thoroughly to remove any dust;
  2. Treat any fresh stains with a white cloth by blotting, not rubbing;
  3. Clean carefully with a mild soap, water and white cloth;
  4. Steam clean if your vacuum cleaner has that feature;
  5. Open windows and doors until the headboard are fully dry so that mould doesn’t set in.

How to clean a suede headboard

Suede is a soft fabric with open-texture, making it more susceptible to accumulate dirt, dust and stains, compared to, say, leather. Here is how to easily clean your suede headboard:

  1. Use the upholstery brush of your vacuum cleaner to remove any dust, debris and hair;
  2. Make circular motions with the soft suede brush of the vacuum cleaner;
  3. Next, mix water with a mild detergent into a bucket and agitate the water to create suds;
  4. Use a white cloth to apply only the suds to the suede headboard and blot the stain gently, repeat the process if needed;
  5. When done, use a dry white cloth to dry the area.
In most cases, you can remove dry stains from suede upholstered headboards by using a pencil eraser. When brushing a stain, use circular motions, putting extra pressure where the stain is.

It is important to know that different suede upholstery will react differently to cleaning detergents, so always spot test on a hidden area first.

How to clean a leather headboard

Before you begin, check the manufacturer’s label for any details about how it should be cleaned. Still, the common method to clean a leather upholstered headboard is:

  1. Begin by vacuuming the leather with a soft brush to remove dust and hair;
  2. To remove dirt and grime, use a moisturising soap and a little water to wash the area. Make sure the cloth is slightly damp, not drenched, so you don’t overwet the surface;
  3. Another homemade solution to do a general cleaning of your leather headboard is to mix a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and distilled water and gently scrub the surface;
  4. In the end, buff the leather with a soft dry cloth and polish as usual.
Prevent exposure to direct sunlight to protect your leather headboard from cracking and drying. Dust the leather often with a dry cloth to keep dust accumulation from damaging the surface.

If this seems like too much of a hassle or you simply don’t have the time, arrange a professional upholstery cleaning with Fantastic Services and take care of your leather, velvet, wool, linen or suede headboard.

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General cleaning and maintenance tips and tricks

Now you know how to clean your headboard and what supplies to use. What’s left is to learn how to prolong your upholstery life by maintaining it properly and treating any stains the right way.

Treat stains as soon as possible

This is the first and most important tip. Even if you’re watching TV late at night and stain the headboard with ice cream or pizza, treat it immediately to save yourself any future headache.

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Upholstery cleaning codes and what they mean

Most upholstery manufacturers have agreed upon wash care symbols created by an industry committee. By knowing what these cleaning codes mean you’ll know how the fabric can be cleaned.

Here is what the codes mean:

  • S or P – this type of fabric is recommended to be cleaned by a professional by using a solvent cleaner. S or P labelled fabrics can be damaged if cleaned with water.
  • F stands for foam cleaning. It is a type of dry cleaning, which is used for different types of delicate fabrics.
  • W – the use of water-based solvents or foam is preferred.
  • W/S and S/W– these codes mean that the upholstery can be cleaned with foam, water or solvent cleaners alike.
  • X/S or X – in this case, your only choice is to clean the fabric by using a vacuum cleaner with an upholstery brush, as the surface can’t be cleaned with any water, solvents or foam-based cleaners.

How to remove greasy stains:

  1. Treat the stain as soon as possible with some baby powder to absorb the extra oil;
  2. Leave the powder for half an hour;
  3. Brush it away gently with a suede brush;
  4. Use a mixture of mild detergent and water and use a few drops of the solution to clean the area with a white cloth.

How to clean dry stains from your headboard

Dry stains are much harder to remove as the stain has already penetrated deep into the fabric.

  1. Brush off the stain with a wet cloth or a suede eraser, depending on the fabric of your headboard;
  2. If the stain persists, try using white vinegar, but test on an invisible area, first, to see how it reacts with the fabric;
  3. In the end, wipe with a wet cloth and let it dry.

Click here to find out how to clean lily pollen stains from the carpet – one of the most stubborn types of stains out there!

Dust and steam clean on a regular basis

Dusting and steam cleaning are not only used to keep your headboard clean and fresh, but they also keep mould, bacteria and other unwanted organisms away from the fabric. It is advisable to vacuum your headboard every week or two and steam clean it every half a year.

How to easily remove pet hair

If you have pets at home, a squeegee can help you brush and clump all the hairs so you can vacuum them more easily.

Maintain the shape and form of your upholstered headboard

An upholstered headboard is much more sensitive than a wooden or metal one, so leaning straight on it might cause it to change its shape and deform over time. Try placing a pillow between you and the headboard to increase its lifespan.

Monthly ‘make-it-smell-great’ routine

You wash our pillows and sheets on a regular basis, but it is hard to do that with the headboard. To keep it fresh and clean:

  • Mix some baking soda, cornstarch and my personal favourites – cinnamon and bay leaves;
  • Use a dry cloth to gently dust the headboard with the mixture;
  • As some of the mixtures may fall onto the mattress and floor, you better protect them with a sheet;
  • You can add your favourite essential oil to the mixture to achieve the desired scent.

Add an extra layer of protection

If you want to clean your headboard less often, you can keep the dust and stains away by using a slipcover. It can be washed easily and you can remove it at any point when you want your bedroom to look classy again.

Get professional upholstered headboard cleaning for Fantastic results

Now you know that each type of upholstered fabric, just as the type of stain, requires a different approach and it might be too much of a hassle to clean it yourself.

If that’s the case, you can always entrust the job to a professional upholstery cleaning company like Fantastic Services and this way, avoid any mishaps.

With our industry-standard cleaning methods, such as hot water extraction (HWE), often called steam cleaning, dry (foam) cleaning, as well as leather upholstery cleaning, rest assured that your headboards will be treated with optimal results.

We are now offering you a completely new service – antiviral sanitisation of upholstery, mattresses and carpets. It’s performed with a certified detergent that is able to eliminate up 99% of germs within 5 minutes of application.

Professional Headboard Cleaning with Fantastic Services!

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  • Different types of upholstery require different cleaning methods.
  • For best results, treat stains as soon as possible.
  • Check your upholstery’s cleaning codes to find out what the best method is.
  • Make sure to dust and clean your headboard on a regular basis.
  • Baking soda, cornstarch and cinnamon can be used to keep your headboard smelling great.


Did you find this article useful? Do you have any tips on cleaning upholstered headboards? Share with us in the comments!

Image sources in order of appearance: Depositphotos: by generationclash85 / Depositphotos: by tommyandone / Depositphotos: by YegorP / Depositphotos: by racorn

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