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How to clean an upholstered headboard

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Regularly cleaning your headboard keeps it in good condition and extends its life. Since different materials require specific cleaning methods, always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions before cleaning.

A headboard serves several purposes, whether providing a comfortable backrest for reading, watching television, or enhancing the bedroom’s overall look. However, with regular use, your headboard collects dirt, dust, bacteria, body oils, debris, and pet dander. Keeping it clean ensures it remains in good condition and maintains a healthy, hygienic sleep environment.

Regular headboard cleaning can also help reduce the risk of bed bugs. These tiny insects often hide in dark places, so it’s vital to inspect your bedroom, particularly your bed and headboard, to help reduce the risk of a bed bug infestation. A fully encased mattress protector also helps prevent bed bugs from entering or escaping your bed.

Deep buttoned black leather headboard in modern bedroom
Deep buttoned black leather headboard

How often should you clean an upholstered headboard?

How often you clean your headboard depends on how much you use it. If you rest against it regularly, more frequent cleaning may be necessary. Generally, aim to clean your headboard at least once a month to ensure it remains in good condition.

Clean up any spillages immediately to prevent stains from setting. Don’t allow dust or dirt to accumulate on your headboard, which can dull colours and accelerate wear.

Avoid rubbing or soaking the material when cleaning a spillage, and don’t allow the stain to dry. Instead, absorb the spillage with a clean paper towel. Also, avoid using soap or detergents on the upholstery unless the manufacturer approves them.

To remember to clean your headboard, you could coordinate it with other bedroom cleaning and maintenance routines, like turning your mattress or changing your bedding.

Preparing to clean your upholstered headboard

Before cleaning, remove pillows and bedding and gently pull the mattress away from the headboard. This prevents them from getting dirty and gives you better access to the headboard for cleaning. Also, consider protecting your bed base with clean dust sheets or covers.

Always check the care labels or manufacturer’s instructions before cleaning your headboard. This ensures you find the safest and most effective cleaning method for your material. The table below shows the cleaning codes commonly found on headboards, indicating how to clean them without causing damage.

Fabric cleaning codes
WYou can spot-clean the fabric using a water-based shampoo or foam upholstery cleaner.
SThe fabric should be cleaned by a professional cleaning service using a solvent-based cleaning agent. (Dry clean only).
WSYou can spot-clean the fabric using either a water-based or solvent-based cleaning agent.
XClean the fabric by vacuuming or gently brushing. Do not use water or solvent-based cleaners.

Before using any cleaning product, test it on an inconspicuous area of the headboard to ensure it doesn’t cause discolouration or damage. If it leaves a watermark, contact a professional upholstery company.

How to clean a microfiber headboard

Microfiber has a soft, suede-like texture and is relatively easy to clean and maintain.

Gently vacuum the headboard using a soft brush attachment to remove dust and debris, taking care not to snag or damage the material. Pay particular attention to crevices and seams where dirt can accumulate. If the fibres flatten after vacuuming, you may be able to restore it to its original appearance by brushing lightly with a dry, soft-bristled brush.

Prompt action is necessary for spillages to reduce the likelihood of staining. Dab the affected area with a clean cloth or tissue without rubbing the stain. Blot up as much of the spillage as possible using a slightly damp cloth and distilled water. Work towards the middle of the spillage to prevent it from spreading. After cleaning the headboard, let it air-dry before use.

How to clean a velvet headboard

Velvet is a luxurious material with a smooth texture. It is a delicate material that requires special care to maintain its luxurious look and feel.

Remove dust and dirt from the headboard using a clean, soft brush or cloth, gently brushing the material in the direction of the nap. You can also gently vacuum the headboard using an upholstery attachment in the direction of the nap. Avoid scrubbing or pressing too hard, as this can damage the material.

You can use a steamer to remove creases or stubborn stains from a velvet headboard. Hold the steamer nozzle a few inches from the fabric and move it slowly across the crease, following the direction of the nap. Be gentle to avoid over-wetting or damaging the velvet.

Do not use soap or detergents on velvet; they can damage the fabric and alter its colour. After cleaning the headboard, let it air-dry before use.

How to clean a chenille headboard

Chenille is a woven fabric with a soft texture. Like velvet, chenille is a delicate fabric and requires special care to maintain its appearance.

Use a soft-bristled brush or cloth to gently remove dust, brushing in the direction of the nap.

Lightly vacuum with an upholstery attachment in the direction of the nap to remove any fuzz on the fabric.

Use a steamer to smooth out creases. Hold the nozzle close to the fabric and move it slowly along the crease, following the nap’s direction.

Avoid using soap or detergents on chenille; they can damage the material and change its colour. Allow the material to air-dry before use. After cleaning the headboard, let it air-dry before use.

How to clean a leather headboard

Gently wipe down your leather headboard with a clean, dry cloth or sponge to remove dust and debris, especially along seams and creases where dirt can accumulate.

Use a slightly damp cloth with mild natural soap to remove stubborn stains from protected or coated leathers. Wipe the leather gently in a circular motion, applying even pressure, working towards the middle of the spillage to prevent the stain from spreading. Avoid rubbing to prevent surface damage.

Avoid using water or cleaning products on natural leathers, as this can result in staining. For spillages from food and drink, immediately dab the stain with an absorbent cloth or clean tissue to remove it from the surface.

Avoid vacuuming leather, as it can leave marks. To prevent damage, only use cleaning products specifically designed for leather.

Do not dry the leather in direct sunlight or with a hair dryer to avoid damaging the material. Instead, allow it to air dry naturally.

Avoid polishes, detergents, solvents, white spirits, or stain removers when cleaning the headboard, as they may damage the leather. Also, do not use baby wipes to clean your headboard.

You can apply a leather protection cream or conditioner to most leathers when new and every 6 to 12 months afterwards. These products help maintain the leather’s appearance, keep it supple, and prevent it from cracking. However, they do not guarantee that the leather will not stain or become soiled.

Can you use a fabric protector on a headboard?

A fabric protector is a treatment that shields your headboard from stains. It creates an invisible barrier that prevents liquids from penetrating the material. However, not all fabrics are compatible. Applying a stain-repellent treatment may affect the fabric’s colour, feel, and performance. Always refer to the care label or check with the manufacturer before applying it.

Should you upholster a headboard?

Reupholstering your headboard can be a good option if cleaning no longer restores its original appearance. It can give your headboard a new lease on life. However, you should consider the cost of reupholstering against buying a new headboard to determine the best option.

Headboard care tips

  • Do not lean against the headboard with wet hair. Moisture can damage the fabric and provide the perfect conditions for mould, mildew, and mites.
  • Avoid leaning against the headboard with clothes that are not colourfast or heavily soiled.
  • Always use clean pillows to prevent dirt and oils from transferring to the headboard.
  • Keep the headboard out of direct sunlight where possible to reduce colour fading.
  • Ensure your headboard is kept in a well-ventilated room to prevent mould and mildew.
  • Do not allow pets to snag the upholstery.

Final thoughts

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when caring for your headboard; different materials require specific cleaning methods and techniques. If you’re unsure how to clean your headboard, consider hiring a professional upholstery cleaning company. If your headboard is past its best, see our Headboard buying guide for advice and tips on purchasing a new one.

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About the author

Tony Brown is the founder and creator of The Bed Consultant. His career in the bed industry began in 2002. After graduating from university with a degree in Business Administration, Tony joined one of the largest independent furniture retailers in the UK as a bed consultant. Tony has helped thousands of customers find the perfect mattress.

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