How to Clean a Fabric Sofa: A Step By Step Guide

Published
August 21, 2020

Fabric sofas are an excellent furniture choice for comfort and relaxation at home. But when stains and marks start appearing on the surface, they can also turn into your biggest nightmare. Whether it’s food stains, juice spills or other pesky dirt marks, one thing’s for sure: you need to have it cleaned right away.

In this guide, we present a comprehensive and step-by-step cleaning process when cleaning your couch — from basic cleaning to removing deep-seated stains and all the way to disinfecting.

Cleaning Code for Fabric Sofas

light brown fabric sofa with lamp and plant

Before you even begin cleaning your dirty couch, it’s important to know first whether it’s a good match for the process and materials that you plan to use. How? By checking the cleaning code. Here’s the usual codes that you need to watch out for when cleaning sofas:

1. W - “Water-based cleaner” 

The upholstery can only be cleaned using water-based cleaning solutions. This means that only solutions that predominantly use water are allowed.

2. S - “Solvents”

This means that the couch can only be cleaned by using a solvent cleaning solution. In other words, substances that are highly composed of chemicals.

3. S/W - “Solvents and water-based cleaners”

The upholstery can be cleaned by using both solvents and water-based cleaning solutions.

How to Clean and Remove Stains from a Fabric Sofa

big gray fabric sofa with white pillows and round table

Once your fabric sofa gets stained, you will need to do the following steps right away:

  1. As soon as stains and dirt marks begin attaching themselves to your couch, you will need to act in haste and have them removed as fast as you can. This way, you will have higher chances of eliminating them with the use of organic cleaning materials.
  2. Before you even start cleaning, check the manufacturer’s recommendations. These instructions are usually found in tags under or behind the sofa. If you avoid doing this step, you might use the wrong cleaning ingredients and do your sofa more harm than good.
  3. Once you have the manufacturer’s recommendations, look for the cleaning code in the tag to find out the best cleaning procedure to take.
  4. Remove excess dirt and loose particles on the surface with a dry brush. Gently brush away these impurities to help reduce the amount of dirt that you will need to clean.
  5. Vacuum away any crumbs or debris from the fabric sofa. This will allow you to focus more on the stains and dirt marks once you start doing the deep cleaning process.
  6. Using baking soda and water, mix both ingredients in a clean bowl. Once the mixture is ready, apply it to the stained area and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes. If you can see that the solution has already absorbed the stain, start vacuuming it once again.
  7. Using your chosen detergent or sofa cleaner, apply a little amount on the stained area. If you’re still quite unsure, you can always do a quick spot treatment by applying it on a small and hidden portion of the sofa fabric. If you find that it doesn’t result in any discoloration, you can continue applying this on the stained area. Use a clean and soft cloth to wipe away afterwards.
  8. Using a soft towel, pat down the wet areas of the upholstery to remove any excess moisture.
  9. Leave the entire fabric sofa to air dry overnight.
  10. Once fully dry, you can use your upholstery once again!

If you find that your upholstery is in need of professional dry cleaning, make sure to contact any upholstery cleaning service near you.

How to Clean a Fabric Sofa With a Steamer

black fabric sofa with black pillows

Aside from using solvents and water-based cleaners, using an upholstery steam cleaner is also an effective way to clean a fabric sofa. But before even taking your steamer out, you need to make sure that your sofa is steam cleaner-friendly. Here are the following steps when steam-cleaning a fabric sofa:

  1. Read the steam cleaner’s manual to double check if it’s compatible with the fabric sofa.
  2. Remove dirt, dust and other particles from the sofa first by using a handheld vacuum cleaner. Doing this will reduce any debris and make the job easier for you and the steam cleaner.
  3. Maintain a well-ventilated cleaning area by turning on a fan and opening all the windows. This will help prevent moisture buildup and let you work through the stains easily without any distractions.
  4. Perform a quick and tiny spot test on the fabric sofa to check for any damage or discoloration. If you run into any issue, then you need to stop right away and check for another cleaning procedure. However, if you find that the spot is still untouched, then you can proceed.
  5. After steam cleaning, let the sofa air dry for a while. Keep the windows and fans open to speeden up the process. For best results, leave it overnight.
  6. Once the sofa is clean and has fully dried, do another vacuuming until any remaining dirt is fully removed.

How to Disinfect a Sofa

teal fabric sofa with white curtains background

Deep cleaning your fabric sofa should only be done once in a while. However, we recommend disinfecting it at least once or twice a week to keep it extra clean and fresh. Here’s how you can make this happen in 3 easy steps:

  1. Mix your favorite essential oil and a few drops or rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle
  2. Gently spray the solution all over the fabric sofa and let it sit for a few minutes
  3. Do a quick vacuuming of the entire surface to dry out the solution
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