I was thrilled last week when we finally took delivery of our brand new bed frame and headboard. My husband and I have looked at such a wide range of beds over the last few weeks, both online and off, that I was at the point where I had seen too many and was becoming blind to any unique features.

It was my husband who came across the bed we finally ended up purchasing, a lovely chenille upholstered bedstead in a light fawn colour with a matching quilted headboard. The solitary deliveryman would only drop it at the front door, and as my husband was at work, it was up to me to leave it where it was, or attempt to get the bed upstairs. Being the impatient type, I chose the latter.

First off, I took the headboard up the stairs, which was no big deal. I unwrapped it and laid it on the floor, admiring how comfortable it looked. I then went for the frame, and must have been out of the room for about half an hour, trying to lug the flat packed base up the stairs Eventually I decided it was just too heavy for me to carry alone and I would have to wait for my husband to get home I went back up into the bedroom and was horrified to see a big brown splodge on the middle of the brand-new headboard which was a without a doubt the tinted moisturiser which I must have left open on the dresser. The upturned bottle was lying on the edge of this gorgeous tufted headboard, and Hercules the cat was curled up on the bed nearby, so I did not need to be Sherlock to work that out what had occurred.

Being extremely accident-prone or you could say careless, I have a few tips and tricks up my sleeve for these situations. As you must not either, I did not hesitate to jump into action, as I am sure you know that any spills on furniture or carpets should be cleared up straight away as time is of the essence if you want to remove the stain successfully.

However, there are circumstances that you will not notice a stain or be able to tackle it until it has dried, and my method of stain removal should still work even when the offending substance has set in and dried.

Here are the steps to work through to remove both fresh and dried in stains from upholstered furniture.


The first thing you want to do is grab hold of the Hoover or a hand held vacuum if we are talking about an old stain. In the case of my spilt makeup on a brand-new item, I did not do this, but simply hoovering an old stain can help fade it considerably. So when dealing with older marks, which you may not know the cause of, first, suck away all the particles you can with the vacuum.

Read the cleaning instructions

Like on clothing there should be a label on your furniture stating the best method for cleaning. This information will give you an idea of how to best deal with the stain. Some furniture may be cleaned with just soap and water, whereas others will need substances that are more robust. It is possible your furniture will not have a label with the cleaning code, particularly if it is an older item. In this event, before tackling the stain, test on a part of the furniture that cannot be seen such as underneath the cushion before using your chosen solvent.


If the code on the furniture states it can be cleaned with water, a great way to deal with the issue is to steam, which after carefully removing the excess makeup with a dry tissue, is what I did first. If you don't have a steamer, the fastest thing to do is to use the steam function of the iron for small areas, or a kettle if you have one handy that you can plug-in close to the item to be cleaned. The steam will loosen the stain.


The next step after steaming is to dab the area with a little water and a few drops of washing up liquid on a clean wrung out cloth or sponge. Blot at the stain with the soapy mixture but do not rub because this could destroy a delicate fabric. Rinse the soap from your cloth and carry on dabbing with just water to get rid of the soap. Hopefully, that should be enough and do the trick, and you would then need to just blot the area dry with a clean tea towel. I do not recommend using kitchen paper as it can leave particles of paper in the cloth, which may give you more work to remove them.

Vodka or White Vinegar

After applying this step to my makeup stained headboard, the stain became much less severe but by no means was the job done. If this is also the unfortunate case for you, the next step is to use vodka or vinegar.

Like with the water, blot at the area rather than rubbing it, and don't worry about the smell - both vodka and vinegar are odourless when they dry.

After cleaning my headboard with vinegar and waiting for it to dry, the stain was barely visible - however, I knew my husband would spot it on a brand-new item of furniture and not be overly pleased.

Commercial Removers

If the natural approach hasn't worked, it's time to get out the solvents, so having something in the cupboard is always an excellent idea. I recommend Grandma's Secret or Vanish Gold Stain Remover, both of which are for sale in larger supermarkets or on Amazon. Like before, dab at the stain gently with the solvent and follow the manufacturer's directions.

Don’t panic

If you follow the directions given here and your stain is still evident, don't panic! You simply need to repeat the steps until it is no longer visible. I once spilt red wine on a cream rug, and it took two days of periodical dabbing with various liquids before it was no longer noticeable so don't give up.

In the case of our makeup mishap, after three rounds with vinegar, the stain was no longer evident. I dried the wet patch off with a hairdryer, and by the time my husband arrived home it looked almost perfect, and he has not commented on the very slight variation of this part of the headboard, which fortunately now in place is hidden by the pillows anyway. So good luck and do not panic - persevere!