If your furniture's upholstery is dirty or stained, you don't want to put off having it cleaned. The longer any type of dirt or stain sits, the more likely it is to become permanent so that the upholstery is then ruined and needs replacing. A professional cleaner can usually make quick work of cleaning your furniture and making it look like new, but if you want to try to remove the stain on your own first, before calling them, note a few simple tricks you might try.
The first thing to do is try vacuuming the upholstery, using an upholstery brush attachment. It's surprising how often a stain is really just a clump of dirt or dust, which can be vacuumed up quickly and easily.
If this doesn't do the trick, try using a damp rag on a hidden area of upholstery and note if it leaves a mark. If not, use a damp rag on the stain, and this might easily remove it. Vacuum up the dampness to help get out that dirt or other debris.
If water and a vacuum cleaner won't get out that stain, you can move on to simple home remedies. Try adding a bit of dish soap or laundry detergent to a bowl of water and dipping a rag in that and using it on the stain. Another option is white vinegar or vodka. Both liquids bind to certain food stains or other debris, so try either of these straight out of the bottle, undiluted. Once you've applied any of these on the stain, use a rag with plain water to rinse, and vacuum it again.
If home remedies don't work, you can try a detergent you get from the home supply store, but use this on a hidden area of the furniture first, as even light detergents might strip upholstery of its colour or cause fibres to get matted down. You also want to be very gentle with any brush attachment if you need to scrub the stain. Note, too, the instructions for extracting the detergent, and be sure you do this thoroughly so that nothing is left behind.
If you've tried all these methods and the stain still remains, or the upholstery still has ground-in dirt, you want to contact a professional residential upholstery cleaning service. They may have stronger detergents or better brushes for removing the stain and can also do a better job of identifying the cause of the stain so they can then decide the most effective way of removing it.