How To Clean A Fabric Couch At Home: 3 Easy Steps

Whether it’s a hand-me-down from family, or a relatively new boxed furniture assembly – it often won’t take long for your prized fabric couch to get dirty and frankly unappealing to sit on.

The good news is, it’s relatively easy to clean a fabric couch and restore to its former glory using nothing more than a few common household items.

Read on below as we take you through a step-by-step guide on everything you need to know to give your favourite couch a deep clean and new life!

how to clean a fabric couch

First Things First – Check Your Cleaning Codes:

Couch fabric can be made from anything like cotton or wool to nylon or polyester – all of which require different treatment when it comes to cleaning and protecting.

You should always check your couches manufacturer cleaning codes before proceeding with a deep clean.

This will ensure you’re using the right methods and materials for that particular type of fabric, not only to get the best results but also to make sure you won’t damage it.

Here are some common cleaning codes you might come across:

  • W – Use a water-based cleaner
  • S – Only use a special solvent-based cleaner on this material
  • W/S – You can use either a water-based cleaner or solvent-based cleaners
  • X – Vacuum cleaner only

Even after identifying the correct cleaning code, make sure you ‘spot test’ an inconspicuous area first before applying it to the entire couch.

Better safe than sorry!

How to Clean Your Fabric Couch: Step-by-Step

Total Time: 1 hour

1.) Dry brush your couch:

The first step to clean a couch no matter the material is generally to remove as much dust and dirt as possible using a dry stiff brush. From a prevention point of view – this should be done across the entire sofa at least once every few weeks to prevent stains from setting in, and definitely as your first step when doing a thorough deep clean.

2.) Vacuum the couch thoroughly:

Vacuum your couch thoroughly. This will remove dust, dirt, pet hair and any other loose debris that has accumulated and built up on the fabric over time, and is sitting deeper than a dry brush can get to. Most couches are safe to vacuum, but as always, check the cleaning code first!

3.) Create a baking soda and vinegar cleaning solution:

Mix together ¼ cup of baking soda with ½ cup white vinegar in a bowl or bucket (optional: add a few drops of your favourite essential oils and/or some mild dish soap).

This will create more of a paste, if you want to thin it out a little and use it in a spray bottle, add warm water until it’s the consistency you need.

Once mixed (and spot tested), pour the solution onto the surface of your couch and let it sit to work its magic!

After half hour has passed, get a clean white damp cloth to remove the solution from the couch. If the stains or odours still persist, apply the solution for a second time and let sit for up to an hour.

This method is especially great on fabrics like cotton and linen which can be particularly sensitive to stains – but don’t worry if this isn’t your fabric type, as nearly all couches benefit from a regular baking soda and vinegar clean.

Pro Tip:

Some odours and marks can simply be removed by sprinkling baking soda on them, and let the baking soda sit for an hour or so. To remove stubborn stains and stronger smells, you’ll probably need to use the mixture we’ve outlined above for you.

The excellent video below from Andrea Jean gives some great details on how baking soda alone can be used for cleaning your furniture!

Remember – Prevention Is The Best Cure!

Cleaning spills, stains and smells as soon as you notice them will make your lie a lot easier. Once they set it, they are much harder to remove. Furthermore, treating your clean upholstery with a protectant spray before the stains and odours happen will do wonders for keeping your couch cleaning needs to a minimum.

FAQ: What Else Do I Need To Know?

Sometimes you have some particularly stubborn stains and odours, or fabric upholstery that requires some special attention. If this is you, the FAQ section below will hopefully fill in any extra details you may have:

How can I clean my fabric couch naturally?

The good news here is that if you follow our method above and only use white vinegar and baking soda, you are cleaning your couch naturally! If you need a bit more of a deeper clean, you can add a natural detergent to the mix as well. Cleaning a fabric sofa or fabric lounge can be done with this method too.

How do you clean a soft fabric couch?

Even if you have a ‘soft’ fabric couch baking soda, water-based cleaners like the one we’ve outlined in this article is still your best option in our opinion. As always, check your cleaning codes first, and be gentle when using the dry stiff brush and vacuum.

How to clean a white fabric couch?

If you have a white fabric couch, again, we recommend the baking soda and vinegar method we’ve detailed above, just make sure that the damp clean cloth you use to wipe the solution is also white as some coloured cloths can easily leave marks on a white fabric sofa.

How to shampoo a couch?

To shampoo a fabric couch, your best bet is to rent a carpet cleaning machine or upholstery steam cleaner with a brush attachment. Steam cleaners are excellent for deep cleaning tough stains and spills, just note that you’ll need to make sure to use a shampoo that’s made specifically for upholstered furniture. This is a great option if you have seriously stubborn stains and odours that a natural method won’t remove.

How to clean a fabric couch that smells?:

If the baking soda/vinegar method doesn’t completely remove the bad smell, you can opt for a professional-grade odour eliminator. There are a number of purpose-made cleaners that specialise in removing pet odours, smoke and other bad smells.

How to clean fabric couch cushions?

Cleaning your fabric couch cushions can be done in the exact way you’d clean your couch! Check your codes, vacuum/brush first and then use a vinegar, baking soda and warm water solution to remove stains and odours. Many cushion covers are also ok to put through a washing machine – check the manufacturer’s instructions.

clean a fabric sofa by hand

That’s It!:

As you can see, cleaning a fabric couch isn’t a particularly complicated or difficult task – it just takes a few simple household items and a little bit of elbow grease.

Using natural cleaners is not only cheaper and often more effective than a chemical clean but also reduce your family’s exposure to any nasties.

We hope this guide has given you everything you need to restore your favourite furniture back to the best condition it can be!

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About Darcy O

Loves good coffee, good design and a good nap on a good couch!

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