Entertainment, Health and Lifestyle

You’ll Want To Make a Batch of This Effective DIY Upholstery Cleaner

This DIY recipe for upholstery cleaner is easy to make, super effective and (you know what’s coming) cheap!


a cheese grater

an eggbeater or whisk

a medium mixing bowl

6 tablespoons grated Fels Naptha laundry bar soap*

2 tablespoons borax*

2 cups boiling water

*available in most supermarkets in the laundry aisle, or online using the links at EverydayCheapskate.com/upholsterycleaner.

Place the Fels Naptha, borax and boiling water in the mixing bowl. Using the eggbeater or whisk, carefully mix until all ingredients are dissolved and well-incorporated.

Allow to sit on the counter for about 30 minutes, or until cool enough that the mixture begins to gel.

Using an eggbeater, whisk or electric mixer, whip the mixture until it looks like whipped cream or shaving cream. It will start out bubbly but then become foam.


By hand: I dipped a clean white terry cloth into the foaming cleaner, applied it to a stain on my white sofa and then scrubbed it into the stain, working in a circular motion. (For a very stubborn stain you may need to use a brush.)

I followed with a wet, clean white terry cloth to rinse and then allowed it to air dry.

By machine: I used my Bissell SpotClean machine and this DIY upholstery cleaner foam on a stained chair seat to see how this would work.

First, I filled the machine reservoir with clean water. Then I applied some of the foam to the spot on the seat. Using the machine without pulling the trigger (that would normally dispense water and cleaner from the reservoir) and using only the scrubbing action, I went to work on that spot. In only a few seconds the spot was gone.

I pulled the trigger to dispense the clean water and the machine’s suction to rinse thoroughly. It worked like a charm!


This recipe makes a big batch of DIY cleaner. It’s been 18 months since I transferred the remaining amount of foamy cleaner to a food storage bowl with a tight lid. I stored it on a cupboard in my laundry room. So far, it has not separated or turned to liquid, as I assumed it might. It appears to be as useful and ready to clean as it was when I first made it.

If you don’t want to make up more cleaner than you need for a specific job, you can easily cut this recipe in half:

3 tablespoons grated Fels Nathpa

1 tablespoon borax

1 cup boiling water


My actual cost to make the full recipe of this cleaner is about 75 cents, which is a generous estimate. Hoover Upholstery Cleaner Aerosol Spray runs about $8. While that’s a loose comparison, for a homemade product that cleans as well as it does, it’s clear to me that making it myself is just one more way to keep more money in my pocket while keeping on top of upholstery cleanups!

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Mary Hunt

Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at tips.everydaycheapskate.com/ . This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

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