The 7 Best Upholstery Cleaners of 2021

Banish even the toughest stains and odors with these simple solutions

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The upholstery in your home, car and office will inevitably need regular cleaning due to normal use, spills, or pet and kid stains. Sadly, too many people will throw out and replace a soiled couch or chair instead of dealing with the dirt. A good cleaning can extend the lifetime of fabrics, and we're here to help you do it in a way that’s free from harmful chemicals.

But even the toughest dried and set-in stains and odors can be eliminated with the right tools. Because upholstery can be made of a variety of fabrics, it's always best to check the manufacturer’s tags for temperature limits and test any cleaner or machine in an inconspicuous area first. When simple, at-home ingredients don’t seem to do the trick, consider a professional cleaning solution or upholstery cleaning machine.

Here are the best upholstery cleaners for a natural and non-toxic cleaning job:

The Rundown
When you want just one safe and green spray that does it all, try this plant-based formula from ECOS.
This large-capacity steam cleaner is a heavy-hitter with a long cord and many accessories.
TriNova's pet cleaner uses enzymes and essential oil to get rid of stains and completely neutralize odors.
Easy to carry and powerful, this steam cleaner can treat wine and ink stains on light-colored fabrics.
The PurStream cleaner is lightweight and versatile, making it easier to tackle many cleaning jobs without chemicals.
Capacity, reach and portability make the NEAT Steam Cleaner great for cleaning vehicles.
Built-in scrubbing brushes makes this machine easy to use, even for folks with mobility challenges.

Best Overall Solution: ECOS PRO Stain and Odor Remover

ECOS PRO Stain and Odor Remover

When you want just one safe product that can do it all, try ECOS Lemon Stain and Odor Remover. It's made from simple, plant-based ingredients: just water, enzymes, alcohol (derived from corn), biodegradable surfactant (derived from coconut), and lemon oil. The spray has a USEPA Safer Choice certification, with powerful plant-based enzymes that cut through grease and even the most stubborn stains and odors on all types of upholstery fabrics. It wins the top spot on our list because it also works well on laundry, garbage cans, and carpets while also being safe enough to use in the fridge and kitchen.

Color-safe and residue-free, this biodegradable spray can be left in place to air dry or it can be blotted or extracted. Unlike many other upholstery cleaners, this one has a fresh lemon scent that leaves you with a satisfying clean.

ECOS offers a range of products that are all are cruelty-free (never tested on animals), and vegan. ECOS' manufacturing facilities are powered by renewable energy, and are certified carbon-neutral, meaning any carbon emissions they produce are balanced out by funding an equivalent amount of carbon sequestration.

Good To Know

Treated areas will look best once they’ve dried, so don’t judge any one approach too soon. Let your upholstery air dry after treatment to determine if further effort is needed. Sometimes more than one approach is needed to defeat more tenacious stains.

Best Overall Machine: McCulloch Heavy Duty Steam Cleaner

McCulloch Heavy Duty Steam Cleaner

This versatile steam cleaner is a bigger investment than a bottle of spray, but the McCulloch Heavy Duty Steam Cleaner is worth it for its versatility. It uses hot, pressurized steam to cut through a range of stains including grease and mold. The 15-foot cord and 9-foot steam hose makes it easy to reach the stain without having the machine underfoot.

Equipped with 18 accessories, including a squeegee, nylon and brass brushes, and microfiber pads, no stain will survive. Customers especially appreciate the large capacity water tank (48 oz.) that heats up in less than eight minutes and lasts up to 45 minutes of use. You can tackle a tough job without repeated refilling. The rolling canister design makes it easy to use anywhere in the house, chemical-free.

This cleaner earns top ratings from customers because it gets good and hot–over 200 degrees F. That also means that the machine can cause burns if be used improperly, so be sure to read that instruction booklet before you begin. Many users also report that this steam cleaner was among the few that successfully beat pesky bed bugs without harmful chemicals.

Best for Pet Stains: TriNova Natural Pet Stain and Odor Remover Spray

TriNova spray

The best products for pet stains and odors work as enzymatic cleaners, meaning they contain a mixture (often proprietary) of natural bacteria and enzymes that break down the ammonia and other organic chemicals in urine, feces, saliva, and vomit—the true source of pet stains and odors.

TriNova contains only natural bacteria, digestive enzymes, water, bamboo extract and mint essential oil. That means you don’t have to worry about the health of people or pets in your house after using this product. It can treat any surface that can handle contact with water. Users also report that the minty scent is not overpowering like many other pet stain and odor removers.

Using this cleaner is simple–just spray it on and wait about two to five minutes, then blot with a towel. Not only does this pet carpet cleaner get rid of stains, but it completely neutralizes odors too.

Best Portable: Bissell SpotClean Professional Portable Carpet Cleaner

Bissell SpotClean Professional Portable Carpet Cleaner

Although Bissell’s cleaning solutions are not generally environmentally-friendly (they contain potent surfactants), they company's upholstery cleaning machines are great at what they do. The Bissell SpotClean Pro 3624 tested at the top of the heap among portable upholstery cleaners. When tested on a cream-colored rug, it successfully removed dried-on bacon grease, red wine, egg batter, and black ink.

Both easy to use and easy to clean, this machine uses hot tap water in an easy-to-fill 0.75-gallon tank. Compared to its competition, you won’t have to refill this portable cleaner as frequently. It weights 13 pounds and has a generous 22-foot cord.

The SpotClean's powerful motor makes it is a little louder than some other units. It's best suited for spot and stain removal, rather than larger cleaning jobs like wall-to-wall carpeting.

Best Handheld: PurStream Chemical-Free Pressurized Steam Cleaner

PurSteam Handheld Pressurized Steam Cleaner

The affordable PurSteam Handheld Pressurized Steam Cleaner weighs just 2.2 pounds, has a low profile, and comes with a nine-piece accessory set to help you get into even the smallest nooks and crannies. It takes only three to four minutes to heat up, so you can respond quickly and easily to unexpected spills before they have chance to take hold.

Instead of using a chemical cleaner with a big environmental impact, consider applying the power of steam to knock out tough stains and odors. Steam cleaning trades heat for chemicals without sacrificing strength. The PurSteam Handheld also sanitizes, destroying bacteria that causes stains and odors, as well as killing viruses, mold, dust mites, and organic proteins, using only water and heat.

In addition to working well on cotton and wool carpets, furniture, mattresses, and dog beds, this steam cleaner can also be used all over the house. It cleans a range of surfaces including ceramic tile, granite, waterproof wood flooring, laminate tiles, and washable wallpaper. Don’t let the size of this top-rated unit fool you, its powerful cleaning capability fits in the palm of your hand.

Best for Cars: Dupray NEAT Steam Cleaner


Like some of the other steam cleaners here, the Dupray NEAT Steam Cleaner works without chemicals thanks to steam. This cleaner heats tap water up to 275 degrees in just seven minutes. Its 54-ounce tank makes it perfect for cars, because that large capacity will give you up to 50 minutes of cleaning time without having to run inside for a refill. The 16-foot cord, 6-foot hose, and lightweight versatility allows you to reach into the tightest spots of your vehicle.

The NEAT Steam Cleaner works well on both leather and fabric seats, as well as harder surfaces like door jams, windows, consoles or engines. Its smooth rolling wheels make for easy movement while you work, while the “low moisture ratio” doesn’t leave surfaces overly wet. Its powerful heat can clean and disinfect many other household surfaces, killing 99.9 percent of bacteria, viruses, mold, and bedbugs.

Best Innovation: Bissell SpotBot Pet Spot and Stain Portable Deep Cleaner

Bissell SpotBot Pet Spot and Stain Portable Deep Clean

My friends have recommended the Bissell SpotBot Pet. It has one feature that virtually none of the other upholstery cleaners offer: Built-in scrubbing brushes. This works well for anyone with mobility or strength issues, and for tired pet owners and parents. You simply lay or press it flat over the desired area and the combination of cleaning solution, scrubbing action, and effective extraction do the work for you.

As with other Bissell products, skip their soap-heavy solutions and use your own homemade solution or one of the other solutions on this list instead. To tackle stains, simply fill it up, set it in place, choose one of two preset cleaning cycles, and push the button. In just three to six minutes those tough stains are wiped out.

The unit also has a hose attachment for other surfaces, and also works hands-free on horizontal surfaces. The SpotBot Pet's "Deep Reach" technology sprays ample liquid directly from the brush to get to the root of the stain. It's also easy to carry and store, thanks to compact profile.

Final Verdict

If you’re just looking for an easy non-toxic spray, pick up a bottle of the ECOS Pro Stain Remover. If you’re ready to invest in an upholstery-cleaning machine, Treehugger’s pick is the McCulloch Heavy Duty Steam Cleaner

Natural & Cheap Tips to Clean Upholstery

For most stains, your first stop should be a natural tried-and-true homemade remedies that include ingredients like lemon juice, vinegar, baking soda, and dish soap. In general, stains and odors are removed most easily when cleaned right away, before they’ve had a chance to dry. If the spill is still wet, use a clean, dry cloth to blot or dab the fabric (don’t wipe as that could spread the offending liquid). Your goal is to absorb and remove as much of the spill and any organic matter as possible before applying a stain and odor remover.

Why Trust Treehugger?

Lorraine Wilde, M.S. holds a Master’s degree in environmental science and is a firm believer that consumers can make informed choices that protect the planet. Lorraine also has years of experience cleaning upholstery in her home and car as a mom of teen twins and a long-time pet owner.