How to Clean a Fabric Headboard

Hygiene doesn’t stop at the sheets.

A fabric headboard has oh-so-much appeal, but compared to its wooden and other solid surface counterparts, keeping it clean requires extra time and effort. Much like you’d wash your duvet and pillowcases, giving your fabric headboard a little bit of extra attention will keep it hygienic and help it last for a long time.

Neutral Bedroom With Linen Headboard

Neutral Master Bedroom With Linen Headboard

A linen headboard is a pretty, textured backdrop for this master bedroom's glamorous nightstand and gold lamp.

Photo by: Alexia Fodere

Alexia Fodere

Dust and oils from lotions and hair products are the main offenders that affect the condition of a fabric headboard, but headboards are also magnets for germs and bacteria, especially during cold and flu season. Assuming that you don’t want to preserve the headboard by wrapping it in a plastic shield like grandma’s couch circa 1976, add headboard cleaning to your routine chore list and make your sanctuary sanitary.

Weekly Fabric Vacuuming

A simple rundown using the extendable wand on a vacuum cleaner will allow you to remove any dust that settles on the top of the headboard. If the fabric is tufted or has pleats, you’ll want to focus the vacuum on those areas too. Removing dust will lessen the presence of allergens and maintain the quality of the fabric.

Vacuuming the fabric headboard.

How to Clean a Fabric Headboard

Vacuum a fabric headboard weekly to keep it dust free.

Photo by: Emily Fazio ©2017

Emily Fazio, 2017

Weekly Fabric Disinfecting

Common household sprays like Lysol brand and its competitors make it easy to treat the surface of the fabric to prevent the spreading of germs from common and contagious viruses and mildew (which might happen if you lean against the headboard with wet hair post-shower). If you’re sick? Consider a daily spray down to keep your loved ones safe.

Monthly Make-It-Smell-So-Good

The sheets and pillowcases continue to smell fresh if you wash them on the regular, but the headboard can be revived easily as well with a little upkeep. My favorite trick? I use some of my homemade all-natural carpet cleaner that consists of baking soda, cornstarch, cornmeal, borax, bay leaves and cinnamon. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of it onto a dry cloth, and dust the powder in the cloth across the top and front surface of the headboard. Some of the cleaning powder will get lightly massaged into the fabric (and yes, much like chalk dust some will sprinkle down to the mattress and floor so remember to clean that up too). Leave it for a few hours, and then use the vacuum to remove the cleaning powder from the surface. 

For a variation on scent, you might try a few drops of essential oil in your homemade cleaning powder. Both lemon and lavender are pleasant scents with natural cleansing properties. 

Quarterly Fabric Cleaning

Oils from your hair, hair products and skin rub off easily on to the fabric of a headboard, and without regular maintenance you might even begin to notice where you/your significant other rests their head while propped up reading or watching television in bed. Before you attack the stains with any cleaner, check to see if the manufacturer has any advice based on the material. For a simple cleaning solution, dish soap diluted in water can be applied with a wrung-out sponge or cleaning cloth. Clean the entire surface – not just the area you rest against – for an even clean, and absolutely avoid scrubbing against the fabric, which could cause it to pill or wear unevenly. If soap isn’t doing the trick, a cloth wet with vinegar can also be used to blot the oils and stains on the headboard to clean the area.

It’s not likely that you’re going to need something as heavy-duty as a solvent that you would use to clean a couch or carpet, but they can be used in instances when you need to spot clean a tough stain.

10 Pro Tips to Get Cleaning Done Fast

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Make a Schedule and Stick to It

Set aside a specific time to get your chores done. "Nobody hires a cleaning service that promises to arrive some random Saturday when nothing else is happening," Cynthia Townley Ewer, author ofHouseworks, says, "Take a tip from the pros and set up a regular cleaning schedule. Pros don’t quit until the job is done. Schedule the job and stick to it to get the work done in record time."

Photo By: Ljupco Smokovski

Find a Motivator

Cynthia suggests using motivators to prevent distraction and head off boredom. "Play your favorite upbeat music. Listen to a book on tape so you'll feel as if you're accomplishing two tasks at once."

Photo By: Yuri Arcurs

Dress for Success

Professional cleaners dress in comfortable, washable clothing designed for work. Supportive shoes and kneepads spare their bodies. Goggles and gloves protect against chemicals. Throw out the bleach-stained sweatshirts, and create a cleaning uniform that includes shoes, gloves and eye protection.

Photo By: Shutterstock/Africa Studio

Invest in Proper Tools

"Professional cleaners don’t use gadgets. You’ll never find them toting specialized one-time-use tools or the latest gimmick hawked on a TV infomercial," according to Cynthia. "Buy good tools — once — and use them, and you’ll be finished in record time."

Photo By: ©

Simplify Supplies

"There's a reason the pros can tote all the products they need in one tray," Cynthia explains "They've simplified their cleaning products down to four basic supplies:

  • Powdered abrasive cleanser
  • Tile and bathroom cleaner
  • Heavy-duty degreasing cleaner
  • Light-duty evaporating cleaner (glass cleaner or multi-surface cleaner)

That's it! No soap scum remover, no special counter spray, no single-use products designed to clean only blinds or fans or walls. The professionals know that with these four simple products they'll be able to handle any ordinary cleaning chore."

Photo By: Aimee Lane

Tote Your Tools

For efficiency sake, professional cleaners tote all their tools with them. All their tools — cleansers, brushes and rags — are right there in the tote tray. Vacuum, mop and mini-vac wait in the doorway. A plastic bag for trash is tucked into a pocket, next to the waving lamb's wool duster. That’s why the pro has finished the entire bathroom before our amateur makes it back up the stairs with the powdered cleanser.

Photo By: Shutterstock/Kaspars Grinvalds

Minimize Your Movement

"Professional cleaners don’t circle a room more than once. Taking their place before the bathroom sink, they’ll spray and wipe the mirror, scrub the sink, wipe down counters and polish fixtures before they move one inch to the right or left," says Cynthia.

"Don’t get physical with your cleaning sessions; make every movement count. Stand fast and clean everything in your path before you move on."

Photo By: Lise Gagné

Pick It Up Before You Clean

"Professional cleaners come to clean, not to tidy counters, furniture, appliances and floors. They can’t do the job if each horizontal surface in the home is covered with papers, toys, dirty dishes and just plain clutter," Cynthia explains. "Pretend that you’ve hired a high-priced cleaning crew. You wouldn’t make them relocate the clutter just to be able to do their job. Give yourself the same head start — pick up before you clean."

Photo By: Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images

Two Hands Are Better Than One

"The pros don’t work as if one arm is in a sling and neither should you. Get in the habit of using both hands to attack cleaning tasks," advises Cynthia.

"Spray a mirror with one hand; wipe it down with the other. Scrub counters with two sponges or cleaning cloths. Dusting goes twice as fast when a lamb's wool duster in one hand cleans nooks and crannies while the cleaning cloth in the other skims flat surfaces."

Photo By: Shutterstock/SpeedKingz


Two people make a bed four times faster than one. Two or three can make short work of an average home. Make cleaning a group effort. Family members are more reluctant to mess up a clean house when they have been part of the cleaning effort!

Photo By: Zing Images/Getty Images

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