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How To Clean A Fabric Sofa (& Easily Remove Stains At Home!)

You Can Easily Clean Your Fabric Sofa At Home! 

Whether it’s an easy night in with a great movie, making coffee with friends, or a big family gathering – the humble 2 seater or a more spacious 3 seater sofa is often the centrepiece of the occasion.

As such, it’s inevitable that your sofa will pick up a few spills, stains, and bad odours – and if it’s a fabric sofa, these can be quite tricky to remove.

There’s no need to go out and blow the budget on expensive fabric cleaning equipment or a sofa cleaning service though, you just need to know how to clean a fabric sofa yourself!

In the same way you’d clean a couch, you just need to put a little work in – and the good news is there is plenty of easy DIY and natural solutions available – many of which you probably already have in your kitchen cupboard!

Read on below as we take you through exactly how to clean a fabric sofa!

how to clean a fabric sofa

Quick Note Before Cleaning:

Every fabric sofa is different so it’s important that you do a few important things before you begin the cleaning.

You’ll need to know what’s best for your couch and what cleaning products you can or can’t use with it. For example, certain sofa fabric upholstery shouldn’t be exposed to much water so you’ll need to check that before you try cleaning it with a wet rag.

Before you start cleaning, here are a few things you’ll need to do:

Check the Cleaning Codes for Your Sofa:

These are generally located on the tags or underside of your sofa cushions. These codes will tell what is safe to use for cleaning the material for your specific sofa.

Here are the common cleaning codes and what they mean:

  • 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

Check The Manufacturer’s Recommendations:

Each manufacturer will have detailed recommendations when it comes to sofa cleaning and care. You can usually find the recommendations on the cushion tags while you’re looking for the cleaning codes.

Ensure you read the recommendations thoroughly beforehand as cleaning incorrectly or using the wrong solvents can void any warranties you have on it or permanently damage the upholstery.

How To Clean My Fabric Sofa At Home?:

Cleaning your fabric sofa (or cleaning your fabric couch) at home isn’t necessarily difficult – you’ll just need to pay attention to a few key points and follow these steps!

clean a sofa at home

Total Time: 1 hour

1.) Brush Down Your Sofa:

Before you even pull out your cleaning solution, make sure you brush down your sofas fabric to get rid of any loose hair, fur, dust or other particles.

There are special hair or fur brushes you can purchase which work a charm, but if you can’t get your hands on one a dry clean cloth and stiff brush should get you through.

It’s not rocket surgery – all you have to do is run the dry rag over the sofa, between cushions, and under the seats to clean remove any debris.

2.) Vacuum:

vaccum your sofa

A good vacuum is essential for keeping your sofa clean (and all upholstered furniture) as just about every sofa can be safely vacuumed, but make sure you use a good brush attachment that won’t slice the material or pull on it too hard.

If your sofa is cleaning code X (vacuum-only) then this is really the last cleaning step, so make sure you spend a good amount of time on all the little corners and tight places crumbs, dirt and dust can hide.

3.) Spot Clean:

Many common household cleaners such as baking soda, dry carpet cleaner, white vinegar and dish soap are all great for spot cleaning some of the more obvious marks and stains gathered on your fabric sofas.

There are a number of different ‘recipes’ out there using these ingredients, generally speaking though, you can mix together any of these cleaning agents with equal parts tap water for an effective furniture cleaning solution.

One of the most common and effective ratios for cleaning fabric sofas are 1/4 cup vinegar, 3/4 warm water and 1 tablespoon of dish soap or Castile soap.

Again – always check the specific cleaning guidelines for your particular fabric sofa before using any cleaner, and even so, I’d recommend testing on an area that isn’t visible before using on the entire sofa.

4.) Begin With Your Sofa Cleaning Solution:

fabric cleaning solution

After you’re happy with your spot cleaning efforts, you can now use your solution to get started on a full deep clean. If you’re happy with the job your spot cleaning solution did, you can use the same solution to clean the entire sofa.

If you’d prefer to not make your own cleaner, there are plenty of excellent natural cleaning products available for purchase nowadays – if you’re time-poor, these can be a great option.

Note: If you don’t want to use a full ‘wet’ solution, you can also remove some stains and odours by just sprinkling dry baking soda over your sofa and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes before vacuuming it up. 

5.) Dry Your Sofa:

After you’ve finished cleaning and you’re happy with the results – gently pat your sofa down dry with a soft towel.
This will only remove so much moisture however, you will need to let it air dry in a well-ventilated area for some time as well. If you’d like to speed up the drying process, you can set up a fan or two to help move the process along.

If you’d like more of a visual guide on how to clean a fabric sofa, Leslie from Live It Up Leslie has some great DIY home cleaning tips in the video below:


Can I Steam Clean A Fabric Sofa?:

You most definitely can!

If your fabric sofa is marked with either W or W/S, you can most likely use an upholstery steam cleaner to clean your couch.

As always, double-check the specific tags and manufacturer’s recommendations – don’t assume that just because your couch can take warm water that it can take the heat of a steamer.

If you do choose to steam clean, ensure you use the correct upholstery attachment for best results. This will help you set the steamer to the correct settings and keep you from accidentally damaging your fabric sofa. 

As with the home cleaning method we took you through above, make sure you also brush and vacuum the couch before steaming to remove dirt and crumbs, and spot test first just to be safe. Also, ensure you only use the steam cleaner in a well-ventilated area.

How Do You Disinfect A Fabric Sofa?:

If your sofa can handle steam, you can easily disinfect it using a sanitising agent (e.g. shampoo) with a steam cleaner.

If you can’t steam clean or would prefer to use a method such as the one we’ve spoken about above, white vinegar and baking soda mixed in a spray bottle are both not only excellent to remove stains and odours – but are also brilliant natural disinfectants!

That’s A Wrap!

There are many different sofa fabrics on the market nowadays, all of which can be safely, effectively and easily cleaned by hand at home when using the right method.

As with most things though ‘prevention is the best cure’ – so getting something as simple as a sofa cover is a great way to protect your furniture and reduce how often you need to clean it!

If you do notice any stains, spills, marks or smells – act quickly as they become harder and harder to remove the longer they sit.

We hope these simple blog tips help you in your sofa cleaning endeavours!

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