How to Clean a Recliner Chair (Beginners Guide)

Are you thinking of getting your recliner chair cleaned but not sure how to clean a recliner chair without professional assistance?

Don’t sweat it! We have put up a detailed discussion on what recliner chairs are and how to clean them based on their material and type.

What is a Recliner Chair?

Recliner chairs are big armchairs with the ability to recline. These chairs are motion seats that allow you to sit or lay comfortably. Some recliners are manual, while others have electrical features like a power button.

These chairs have a spacious headrest, 2 armrests, and a flexible footrest that you can adjust according to your convenience. Physicians also recommend them for individuals with back and leg issues.

Types of Recliner Chairs

Many types of recliner chairs with various features are available in the market. Obviously, not all are great, and you have to select the one suitable for your need.

These chairs’ types are divided on the materials used to manufacture them and their features. Below are some of the most purchased and recommended recliner chair types.

Lay-Flat Recliner Chairs

These recliner chairs can lay completely flat, providing you with a comfortable sleeping area. They are best for open spaces like a sunroom, but you can also set them in any corner of your house with a clearing of at least 14 inches.

Rocker Recliner Chairs

These recliner chairs move back and forth in an arched motion like their name. Mostly, people with insomnia prefer these to other types of recliners.

Power Recliner Chairs

Power recliners are operated electrically. Electric power buttons and level adjusters automatically set your desired sitting position level.

Classic Recliner Chairs

These recliner chairs do not come with any lever or power button. It performs fully on the pressure of your back and adjusts its level flexibly.

Recliner with Lift Feature

Individuals with knee, leg issues, or certain physical disadvantages opt for these types of recliners. Recliners with these features allow a person to get out of the chair without trouble. The entire chair shifts into a leaning angle, providing enough lift for a person to get off it.

Chaise Lounger

Among the different upholstery recliners, this is one of the most popular types. These are long recliner chairs that you can use as your living room sofa. Some of these even include electric features and storage space.

Types of Recliner Chair Material

Along with the variety of features, recliners come in different types of cover materials as well. Leather, Fabric, Suede, Faux leather, etc., are some of the most common recliner chairs among buyers. The reason these are mostly considered by the consumers depends on the desired comfort level and for where they plan to get a recliner. Other than that, their washability is also one of the primary reasons.

There are also materials like solvent-safe and water-safe that guide the cleaning process of a recliner. The manufacturer’s tag indicates either material is solvent-safe, water-safe, both, or none. S indicates solvent-safe, W indicates water-safe, SW indicates both, and X indicates none in the tag.

Why Clean Them?

You may have both a recliner and a large sofa set in your living room, but the first place you would prefer is to sit on the recliner chair. The reason is simple. Recliners provide a cozy and warm feeling compared to traditional or modern sofa sets. While allowing your body to relax, these chairs make working from home, crocheting, or nursing easier.

Over time, these chairs get dirty. The oils in hair contribute to making the headrest dirty. The armrest becomes dirty due to coming in regular touch with arms. The armrest and headrest in a recliner get dirtiest over the time they are used. Food chunks, dirty clothes, spilled drinks, or water make the overall chair dirty anyway. The longer you take to clean the chair, the bigger the germ clan becomes, risking the health of your family. It is essential to clean a recliner after a certain while as it is used daily.

Mostly Needed Tools for Cleaning a Recliner

What you use for cleaning your recliner depends on what material the recliner is made of. As discussed earlier, the solvent is not applicable to all types of recliners. Natural fiber recliner chairs are solvent-safe, while artificial fiber recliners are not. Make sure you check the cleaning instructions by the manufacturer before starting the cleaning process.

Vacuum: Vacuum is used to pull out the dirt, food chunks, etc., before spraying solution/solvent for cleaning. Vacuum the nooks and crannies of the recliner as it will allow the solvent/solution to work effectively.

Vacuum ejector: A vacuum ejector, also known as a filter pump, pulls out water from fabric, carpets, or rugs. It is used to pull out the excess water after cleaning and allows them to dry quickly. Not all recliners require a vacuum ejector. You can skip this equipment if your recliner tends to dry quickly after cleaning.

Here’s a vacuum ejector recommendation from us: Hoover Spotless Portable Carpet & Upholstery Spot Cleaner

Soap/Solution: A soap with a mild pH balance is recommended. If you are a DIY person, you can make a solution yourself by mixing an equal amount of vinegar and water. 

Solvent: There are a variety of solvents available for cleaning recliners but not all come with quality. Choose a solvent carefully as it can also discolor or damage your recliner.

Here’s one recommendation from us: ForceField Fabric Cleaner

Spray bottle: If you are not using a solvent and making your own DIY solution, you will need a spray bottle. A spray bottle will allow you to apply the solution evenly over the recliner. You can use a regular spray bottle for this purpose.

Vinegar: Vinegar is used to eliminate odor. Years of use definitely leaves a bad odor behind on the recliners. Vinegar gently removes the smell without damaging the fabric.

You will also need water, a soft bristle non-metal brush, and ½ piece of soft cloth to clean your recliner, regardless of its type. 

The Cleaning Process

Cleaning Fabric Recliners

Fabric recliners are solvent-safe, but you can also use soap. Vacuum the recliner well and evenly spray water and solvent/soap/solution. Spray on one part each time to avoid the solution drying on the recliner. After that, take a brush and scrub the fabric gently.

As you feel the recliner is well-scrubbed and enough dirt and stains are out, turn the vacuum ejector on to pull out the dirty water from your recliner. The last step is to wipe the chair with a soft clean cloth. After that, you can put it under sunlight to dry up completely.

Cleaning Leather Recliners

Both faux and soft leather recliners are not solvent-free. You can use mild pH soap or detergent on them. DIY solution is also applicable here. First, dust off the leather with a cloth. Second, spray the solution/soap/detergent on leather, wipe it with a soft cloth, and wait for it to dry. Rinsing is not required for cleaning leather recliners.

Cleaning Suede Recliners

Suede recliners are most fragile to solvents. Even imbalanced DIY solutions can leave marks or discolor the suede fabric. To clean it, vacuum the suede fabric thoroughly first. Then use a suede brush or eraser to remove dirt or stains without applying the solution.

You can remove the suede cover from many recliners and machine wash. Some suede covers can be washed in the machine, while others require hand wash. See the cleaning instruction provided by the manufacturer to avoid damaging the fabric. 

Tips to Keep the Recliners Clean

Keeping your recliner clean is not a hard task. While regular cleaning your home, just dust off the recliner with a cloth or vacuum clean it. You can lay a big piece of cloth-like an extra cover to avoid cleaning the recliner fabric often.

A vinegar and water solution can help eliminate odor. Mix an equal portion of vinegar and water and keep it in a spray bottle. Spray a small amount of this solution every 2-3 days and let it dry. On leather recliners, spray the solution and wipe it with a small cloth.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which part of a recliner is the dirtiest?

The headrest and armrests are the dirtiest parts of a recliner. These areas come in direct touch with skin, absorbing skin and hair oil.

2. Can I use shampoo to clean my recliner chair?

You can use mild shampoo for cleaning recliners. Add an equal amount of water and mild shampoo together for cleaning.

3. How do you clean a recliner at home?

To clean a recliner at home, the basic things you will need are a vacuum/upholstery duster, a soft cloth, a brush, soap/solution/solvent, and water.

4. How to clean a recliner that was peed on?

A solution of dishwashing soap, water, and vinegar in equal amount works wonder cleaning pee stains and smell. Dip a microfiber cloth into the mixture and gently rub the stained area till the stain is gone.

5. What type of recliner chairs are best for nursing?

Rocker recliners are best for nursing as they move in a back-and-forth motion which helps moms put their children to sleep quickly.


Recliners are vulnerable to dirt and stains as they are used daily in almost every home. Keeping them clean is essential for keeping your family’s health safe. We hope our guide helped you figure out how recliner chairs are cleaned.

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