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DIY Upholstery Cleaner vs Bissell Cleaning Solution: What Works Better

DIY Upholstery Cleaner

Should you use a DIY upholstery cleaner solution or a name brand cleaning solvent like Bissell?  Will a homemade upholstery cleaning mix really work as well as a store bought one?  Well, we have your answers!

Links in this post may be affiliate links, which means I may earn a commission if you make a purchase from any of them.  You can read my full disclaimer HERE.

Why We Needed An Upholstery Cleaner

Due to an unfortunate accident involving half of a medium milkshake, my 10-year old, and the back seat of my car, we recently became the proud owners of a Bissell Spotclean Proheat Pet carpet and upholstery cleaning machine.  

It was about 6 pm on a Saturday night when the milkshake incident occurred.  We were driving home from Sonic when I heard the ominous calls of “Oh, no!!!” coming from my back seat.  

When I pulling into my driveway, sure enough, my worst fears were realized.  My child had somehow lost his hold on his half full milkshake, spilling the contents ENTIRELY onto the cloth seats in the back of my car.  

I immediately starting calling around, trying to find a detailing shop that could clean my seats ASAP, before my car started stinking like sour milk.  

Of course, since it was after 5 on a Saturday, the few places that were still open were unable to clean the upholstery of my car until Monday or Tuesday, and were quoting us prices of anywhere from $85 to $125 to shampoo the seats.  

So it was on to plan B. 

The Bissell Spot Cleaner

We quickly ran out to our local Walmart and purchased a Bissell Spotclean Proheat Pet for around $100. I was looking for a Bissell Little Green Machine, but our local store was completely out of those.  

I figured if it saved the back seat of my car for the same price as a one time professional cleaning, it would be well worth the purchase.  

We brought it home, and got to work immediately, using the samples of the cleaning solution provided with our new Bissell. 

The Bissell Spot Clean Proheat worked like a DREAM!  It cleaned all the milkshake residue and left my car smelling lovely.  

Just to be sure it wouldn’t stink, we cleaned the entire area twice, and never had any bad smells in my back seat.  

I HIGHLY recommend this machine!  We’ve used it all over the house, including cleaning my dining room chairs, a sofa, several lounge chairs, and the ottoman in this experiment (more on that in a minute!)

You can get your own Bissell Spotclean Proheat here:


Why We Created A DIY Upholstery Cleaning Solution

While the Bissell machine itself was affordable and worked very well cleaning up the milkshake mess, the upholstery cleaning solution sold by Bissell seemed kinda pricey and didn’t go very far.   

After using up the sample sizes on that first emergency clean up, I discovered that refill bottles weren’t cheap.  They run around $10 a bottle at our local Target or Walmart.  

Now that I was on a roll and wanted to “clean all the things,” $10 a bottle just wasn’t going to cut it for me.  So I started doing a little research.  

After cruising around the internet for a while, a found a formula for a DIY upholstery cleaning solution that I thought would work just as well as the Bissell version for my purposes. 

It used ingredients I already had on hand and was EXTREMELY cheap to make.  So I decided to give it a shot. 

Putting Our DIY Upholstery Cleaner To The Test

To test out this new-found formula, I decided to clean the dirtiest piece of furniture in my house:  the dog ottoman.  

This grungy piece of furniture started out as a lovely pale green velvet ottoman that coordinated with a lovely pale green velvet chair.  

But when we adopted a small beagle from a local rescue, she quickly claimed it as her own, to spend her days lounging on it, gazing out the window at the squirrels.  

She spent hours at a time rolling around on it, really grinding in the dirt and germs. 

She also made a habit of chewing her favorite toy on top of it, leaving little bits of whatever it was for her to lick up later. 

An extremely dirty light green ottoman, ready to be cleaned by our Bissell

As you can see from the picture, it really was quite gross after she’d been using it for about a year.  

Being that it was the most disgusting piece of furniture in my house, I figured it would make a good test subject for these two different formulas of upholstery cleaning solution.  

I sectioned off three areas of the top of the ottoman to help me compare my work.  One section for the Bissell brand cleaning solution, one section for the DIY cleaning solution, and one section left dirty as a “control” (’cause I’m scientific like that!)

I covered whatever area I wasn’t cleaning with plastic wrap to try to prevent bleed over from the other area and get a good comparison of the different solutions.  

I started by filling the tank with the recommended ratio of hot water to Bissell cleaning solution.  Then I sprayed the entire dirty area with the solution from the machine, and got to work with the brush and the suction.  

I only used tools included with the machine.  No additional brushes or scrubbers were used to clean any part of the areas.  

Between sections, I ran hot water through the machine to make sure I flushed out any residue from the Bissell solutions. 

I then repeated the process with the DIY solution.   I took about the same amount of time to clean both sides (possibly a little extra time on the Bissell side)

What happened astounded me. 

DIY Upholstery Cleaner results of both formulas

The DIY Upholstery Cleaner vs. Bissell Solution Results

The Bissell solution did a decent job of removing the grime.  It still looked a bit dingy to me on that side once it was completed and dried.  

But the DIY upholstery cleaner solution did a tremendous job of cleaning the ottoman.  

As you can see in the picture, the DIY section looks tons better than the section left in original condition.  And I can promise you, it smelled better too!  

It also seemed to take less elbow grease to get the intended results.  I’m all for working smarter, not harder!  

I bet you’re wondering what this amazing DIY upholstery cleaner is!  You’ll be amazed to know it’s made with just three simple ingredients you likely have around your home right now!

It only takes hot tap water, hydrogen peroxide, and dish soap.  

That’s it!  

You can get the full recipe for the cleaning solution on the printable card at the bottom of this post.  

I was scared they peroxide might bleach out my furniture, but it was so watered down, it didn’t do anything of the sort.  

Once I saw the results, I went back and cleaned the entire thing with the homemade solution.  Here’s the before and after picture of the completed project:

Before and after results from a DIY Upholstery Cleaner

I can definitely tell you, I’ll never go back to using the store bought formula!  

You can use this formula in just about any upholstery cleaning machine, the Bissell ProHeat, the Little Green Machine, or whatever upholstery cleaning machine you own.  

The results of this little experiment made me super happy!  I cleaned the entire chair and brought it completely back to life with this inexpensive DIY formula.  

Yield: 1 Bottle of Cleaning Solution

DIY Upholstery Cleaner

DIY Upholstery Cleaner: A before and after picture

Mix up this DIY Upholstery Cleaner to use in your Bissell carpet or upholstery cleaning machine! Save money and clean efficiently!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Active Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $1.00


  • 6 cups HOT Tap Water
  • 1/4 cup Hydrogen Peroxide
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon Dish Soap


  • Bissell Upholstery Cleaner


    1. Mix all ingredients together. No need to use boiling water, just get it as hot as it will go from your tap.
    2. Pour directly into your carpet or upholstery cleaning machine, as you would any name brand cleaning solution & water mixture.
    3. Use machine according to manufacturer's directions.
    4. Watch it magically remove dirt and grime.

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As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

We make over and rehab A LOT of furniture in this house.  I’d say at least 80% of the furniture in our home is second hand.  

I’ve used this DIY upholstery solution to rehab so many pieces, and it has never failed to clean really well for me.  

I’ve removed weird stains and smells from lots of vintage pieces, and enabled us to really get a mid century look to our home by using actual vintage furniture.  

Try it on your dirtiest piece of furniture!  Let me know how it works in the comments!

Check out my other post on how to instantly remove permanent marker from your skin!


DIY Upholstery Cleaner vs Bissell Cleaning Solution: What Works Better


Tuesday 19th of March 2024

Try spraying the furniture or rug with the solution and using only warm h20 in the machine to flush it out it really works better and your machine will live much longer.

Louise Emery

Tuesday 2nd of April 2024

Great idea!


Friday 23rd of February 2024

I tried it.....IT WORKS GREAT!!!!


Tuesday 16th of January 2024

Hi. It's important to know what's actually in the Bissell cleaning fluid to better understand the process. H2O2 is a bleaching agent. Thanks.


Friday 12th of January 2024

What kind of dish soap? Would dawn be too bubbly?

Louise Emery

Sunday 14th of January 2024

Any kind you want to use should work.


Thursday 7th of December 2023

I received the little green Bissell machine last week. First time used their product on my couch. I didn't do such a great job and noticed when dry my errors. Then I used this formula on same couch and could tell it worked BETTER than Bissel's product. I became a cleaning machine myself after that. Personally, I will use a bit less dish soap. I spray, scrub, suck dry. Happy! Thank you. P.S. Vinegar is a great odor eliminator. Where/Could you add/substitute in your mix?

Louise Emery

Friday 8th of December 2023

So glad it worked so well for you!

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