How to Clean a Fabric Headboard [6 Steps]

An upholstered headboard is a gorgeous addition to any bedroom. Fabric covering adds a touch of class, comfort, and warmth. Owning a fabric headboard does come with its own set of challenges, such as cleaning. With a traditional wooden headboard, all you have to worry about is dusting and occasionally wiping it down with some wood cleaner. But how exactly do you clean a fabric headboard? We've done some sleuthing for you and have the answers!

To clean a fabric headboard, there are a handful of steps to follow:

  1. Apply fabric protector before stains happen.
  2. Use a vacuum. 
  3. Mix some warm water and laundry detergent, and work the mixture into light stains on the headboard.
  4. Use carpet spot cleaner for tougher stains.
  5. If available, use a wet/dry vacuum to suction any saturated areas.
  6. If no wet/dry vacuum is available, allow the headboard to dry, then follow up with vacuuming.

Although these are the basic steps to follow when tackling cleaning an upholstered headboard, continue reading as we elaborate on each step and answer all your questions. We were hoping you can maintain that fabric headboard's beauty, and the care details can make all the difference!

Cozy modern bedroom with carpet floor, lamp on bedside table and picture frame on the wall, How to Clean a Fabric Headboard [6 Steps]

We may include affiliate links and curated AI content to highlight top design styles.

What You Will Need

The first step to completing any job is ensuring you have the proper tools. To do a thorough cleaning of your fabric headboard, you will need:

  • Fabric protector spray
  • A vacuum with an upholstery attachment, preferably a wet/dry vac
  • Laundry detergent
  • A bucket
  • A clean piece of cloth or rag
  • Carpet spot cleaner spray
  • A blow dryer (optional)

1. Apply Fabric Protector Spray Before Stains Happen (and After Cleaning)

You can save yourself a ton of hassle by applying a fabric protector spray as soon as your headboard is installed. To apply a fabric protector spray, start by protecting non upholstered surfaces from overspray by covering them with newspaper or something similar.

Most upholstery protectors come in spray form, so shake the can well. Test a spot of the upholstery for colorfastness before applying all over; this is done by spraying a non-visible spot and wiping vigorously with a cloth. If the color comes off, don't use the spray.

If the color test went well, slowly and evenly apply a light coat over the headboard's entire surface. Allow it to fully dry and apply a second coat for best results. Doing this simple step can dramatically increase the life of your upholstery and make cleaning so much easier!

Get our FREE 7 design style cheat sheets
Subscribe for home design tips & inspiration
Get your free gift: Downloadable design style cheat sheets
Thank you for subscribing!

View this fabric protector on Amazon.

2. Use a Vacuum

Using the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner, suction all the dirt and dust off the upholstery. Pay close attention to the cracks and crevices and around any buttons or decorations as this is where dust and dirt like to hide. Regular vacuuming of your headboard helps reduce the risk of allergens as well, so you'll sleep and breathe easier.

View this Bissell vacuum on Amazon.

3. Mix some warm water and laundry detergent for stains

Add about a half-gallon of warm water to your bucket along with a few teaspoons of your favorite laundry detergent. Mix well. Test the solution on a small unseen area for colorfastness.

Using a clean cloth or rag, apply the mixture to any obvious stains on the headboard. Use a light blotting motion for fabrics such as velvet or suede. Go with the grain of the fabric on more natural fibers like linen or cotton. Gently work at the stain until the fabric is saturated and free of the stain.

View this laundry detergent on Amazon.

4. Use Carpet or Upholstery Spot Cleaner

If the stain is especially stubborn, a commercial carpet or upholstery cleaner might be necessary. Avoid using this type of cleaner on fabrics like suede, velvet, or anything polyester based. As with all cleaners, test a small inconspicuous spot before applying to a larger area.

Follow a similar method as with the laundry detergent; spray the stain with the cleaner and gently blot. Blot and go with the grain if your headboard is made of natural fibers. Work the stain until it is gone. 

View this upholstery cleaner on Amazon.

5. Vacuum

If you own a wet/dry vac, use the upholstery attachment to suck away the excess moisture and remaining stain residue. 

View this wet/dry vacuum on Amazon.

If you don't own a wet/dry vacuum, wait for the headboard to dry completely, and then use your regular vacuum's upholstery attachment to smooth out your headboards surface and suck up any remaining stain residue. To rush the drying part of the process, you can use a handheld blowdryer to dry the damp spots quickly.

View this blowdryer on Amazon.

Finish the whole process by applying fabric protector spray following the steps outlined above.

Do Upholstered Headboards Really Get That Dirty?

Upholstered headboards are beautiful additions to a bedroom, but they tend to be a magnet for dirt. If you frequently lean against the headboard, it absorbs excess oils from your skin and hair. If you have pets, that beautiful piece of furniture is probably covered in your furry friend's fur. Inspect and clean your fabric headboard weekly to keep stains and build-up of fur and dust at bay. Be sure you are cleaning behind it as well.

Should your headboard be against the wall? Read more about positioning your headboard here

Are Upholstered Headboards Bad For Allergies?

Fabric headboards can wreak havoc on someone who suffers from allergies, just as carpet or furniture upholstery can. If the dust and dirt are allowed to accumulate, a person can definitely suffer the ill effects of breathing in these allergens.

Consider a Steam Cleaner

A steam cleaner might not be an appliance you own, but if you suffer from allergies and want a fabric headboard, it might be time to consider getting one. A steam cleaner can make bacteria, mold, and grime a thing of the past. Because they are superheated, using this cleaner keeps your environment healthier by killing the germs without chemicals. They work super well on carpets and curtains as well!

View this steam cleaner on Amazon.

How Do You Cover a Headboard With Fabric?

Considering the do-it-yourself option to get a fabric headboard? You'll need a tape measure, fabric, batting (the fabric used for layering between the foam and outside fabric), foam, a staple gun, and a friend for this type of project.

View this upholstery fabric on Amazon.

Start by measuring the headboard to know how much foam, fabric, and batting you will need to cover it. The foam will only be necessary to cushion the forward-facing part of the headboard. Once you have all your tools and your chosen fabric, foam, and batting cut to the headboard's shape, lay the foam across the headboard. Cover it with the batting.

With your friend's help, stretch the batting over the foam and pull it to the back of the headboard. While your friend holds the batting taut over the headboard, staple it to the back, making sure to staple the top, bottom, and sides. Be sure the batting is a tight fit, or this could wind up looking sloppy. Take your time attaching and stapling. Follow up by stretching the fabric over the batting and stapling it in place following the same careful method.

View this staple gun on Amazon.

There are potentially many more steps involved depending on the headboard's size and shape, so make sure to do some thorough research before tackling this project.

Watch this Youtube tutorial for more details and tips!


How Much Does it Cost to Reupholster a Headboard? advises it can cost between $200 and $1000 to reupholster a headboard if you enlist a contractor to do it for you. Upholstery fabric costs $30 to $60 per yard on average, and labor charges are $50 to $100 per hour. Ouch! It can get costly to reupholster your fabric headboard, so follow the above cleaning steps as often as you can to avoid this. It will have to be replaced or reupholstered inevitably, but you can definitely put it off with routine maintenance. 

In Closing

Fabric headboards can transform your bedroom into a cozy, plush palace, but they can also present a cleaning challenge. Make sure you stay vigilant in your cleaning routine, and you can enjoy the elegance for many years. Keep up to date on how to replace that upholstery yourself if need be. Your bedroom should be your sanctuary; make sure it stays healthy and happy with a squeaky clean headboard!

Do beds even need a headboard? Read our post about that; the answer may surprise you!


Get our FREE 7 design style cheat sheets
Subscribe for home design tips & inspiration
Get your free gift: Downloadable design style cheat sheets
Thank you for subscribing!
Share with a friend -

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *