First, a request: please don't judge :)
Second, a suggestion: don't use upholstered chairs in your main eating area if you have young kids.
In a dreamy-eyed state, I purchased four upholstered chairs from West Elm for our kitchen table, the place where our family of four (including a 3 yo and 1 yo at the time) does the majority of our dining. Big mistake. One year later, here's what I've got:
I have finally conceded that these chairs just don't work for our kitchen table, so I've replaced them with plastic chairs. However, I also decided to try to give the upholstered chairs a refresh and repurpose them as extra dining room chairs. Here's what I started with:
- Hand vacuum
- Steam cleaner or iron with steam function
- Dish soap
- Clean sponge
- Vacuum up any loose crumbs before you start
- Mix some dish soap and cold water in a small bowl (check your furniture's cleaning instructions, some will advise against using water, in which case you can research cleaning products or use vinegar or vodka)
- Use a steam cleaner or steam function on your iron to loosen up set in stains
- Dip a clean sponge into your soap mixture, and use it to rub out stain
- When you finish, the furniture will have wet spots, which if done properly, should dry evenly.
*Important tip: do not use too much water or leave hard edges when you apply the sponge, or else you will end up with water stains. Use the sponge to spread the edges as you work. Or, if like me, your entire piece of furniture is covered in stains, you may find the entire piece is wet by the time you finish. That's okay too :)
Once your furniture has completely dried, you can decide if you want to go through the process a second time, or if you'll need to use a heavier duty cleaner. But hopefully, your experience is similar to mine!
Just to note, I also purchased upholstered chairs for our dining room, a place where our family does NOT do the majority of our dining. And those have fared just fine. This is not a campaign against upholstered chairs, just a strong recommendation to place them thoughtfully!