How to clean your fabric sofa as a Pro

A fabric sofa that’s the center of activity in your home also attracts a lot of dirt and debris. Fabric couches can be a beautiful addition to any home but let’s be real – they’re quite tricky to clean. No matter how careful we are, the crevices are a magnet for crumbs, dust and hair while the cushions magically trap coffee spills, water stains… We’ll share the basic steps and how to clean fabric sofa the right way as below.

Using a upholstery nozzle to clean dust on a fabric sofa

How to clean fabric couch:

  • Prepare your fabric sofa for cleaning
  • Deodorize and clean it with baking soda
  • Remove stubborn stains
  • Keeping your sofa clean in the long run

Prepare your fabric sofa for cleaning

To prepare your sofa for cleaning start by vacuuming the whole surface, the crevices and under the cushions. Loosen up old stains or dirt by using a stiff brush with natural bristles. Then vacuum that part again.

Some fabric furniture has removable covers that you can put in the washing machine. If that’s your case, you can skip directly to the spot-cleaning section after washing.

Top tip: It’s more cost effective to purchase a wet and dry vacuum with a wash-system. A powerful vacuum will also save you tons of time and help the sofa cleaning more efficient.

Natural Fibers

Usually, a couch isn’t made entirely of natural fibers – they’re mostly blends. They’re also often a bit more pricey, and they require a bit of special attention (what doesn’t really?). Some popular natural textiles include:

  • Linen
  • Cotton
  • Wool


Before proceeding with the cleaning, it’s essential to know what textile you’re dealing with as some synthetic materials have very specific instructions for cleaning. Types of synthetic textiles your furniture can be made out of:

  • Polyester
  • Velvet
  • Microfiber
  • Rayon
  • Sunbrella

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions

Something that we can skip saying, but we won’t, is that you should read the manufacturer’s label.

And if you thought cleaning natural textiles is tricky, wait until you hear about microfiber. It’s usually the one with the most specific instructions, as it can be easily damaged if you use the wrong detergent. But no matter what textile is the upholstered furniture made from, the manufacturers put letter coding to help you out. Here’s what you can find on the care label and what it means:

  • W – It means it’s safe to use water and water-based solutions while cleaning.
  • S – Only use solvents to clean the upholstery (dry clean).
  • S/W – You can use solvents or water-based cleaners. In this case, both dry cleaning using a mild solution and steam cleaning are good options.
  • X – Vacuum only, don’t use water.

Deodorize and clean your upholstery with baking soda

It wouldn’t be a cleaning tutorial if we didn’t mention baking soda. As many of you already know, baking soda is a key ingredient in all kinds of DIY cleaners. It’s easily accessible and generally safe to use on various surfaces, and that includes your upholstery. Needless to say, always test on an unnoticeable area first.

How to clean upholstery with baking soda

Coat the surface of the couch with a little bit of baking soda and let it sit for about half an hour. Don’t overdo it with the amount of baking soda, you only need light coverage. After that, use the brush attachment to vacuum it away. Voila! What you’re left with is a deodorized and gently cleaned couch. Repeat whenever you feel the need to freshen up your upholstered furniture.

Remove stubborn stains and deep cleaning your fabric sofa

Try eco-friendly solution before using any chemicals products

Even after all the work you just did, you might be left with a couple of persistent stains and ambiguous-looking spots.

Fabrics, especially natural ones, are prone to stain easily, so working fast is key. The more time has passed, the harder it is to get rid of them. And since all mishaps happen suddenly, you often need to DIY your cleaning products. And as always – spot-test on a hidden area first!

Deep cleaning your sofa on your own might seem like an impossible task. But since you’re here, we know you’re not a quitter, so here are a few methods to do that.

Another option is that you just call cleaners to professionally deep clean your upholstered furniture while you sit back and relax. This way you don’t have to do all the hard work and there is no chance of damaging your furniture.

Sofa Cleaning with water, vinegar and dish soap – Spot-cleaning

Grab yourself a bowl, half-full of warm water and mix in 3 tbsp of white vinegar and 1 tbsp of mild dish soap (the amount can vary). Dab in it with a clean cloth or a sponge and spot-treat stains one by one. Try not to soak the furniture. Work gently because you don’t want to rub the stain in the fabric. Wipe away with a clean cloth and inspect if the stain is gone. If not, repeat the process. Let it air-dry. No need to use blow-driers or heaters, as they can do more damage than good.

Cleaning fabric sofa with water, vinegar and dish soap – Large surfaces

To clean larger surfaces of upholstered furniture, you might need something else. In a completely clean spray bottle mix together a cup of warm water, half a cup of white vinegar and 1 tbsp of dish soap. Close it and shake well. Spray the surface of the couch from a 30 cm distance, then wipe away with a clean cloth to ensure there’s no excess residue from the solution on the furniture. Let it air-dry. After it dries, the vinegar smell goes away, leaving behind just a clean, freshened-up couch. This method is more suitable for synthetic textiles except for suede and as we already mentioned – some types of microfibre.

Cleaning with baking soda paste

You thought we were done with the baking soda? No way! Mix baking powder and just enough water to make a paste and you have a two-ingredient homemade solution to remove stubborn and greasy stains. Put a little bit of it on the stain and with the tip of your finger or a clean cloth gently rub it in with circular motions. No scrubbing, as it will push the dirt deeper into the textile making it a bigger problem than it should be. Leave the paste on for about 15 minutes. Check if the soda has absorbed the grease and once it has, brush it off or vacuum it with the bristle brush attachment.

Clean with a cleaning product

If you happen to have at home an upholstery or a carpet cleaning product (that you actually bought from the store, shocker!), the first thing you need to check is if it’s a water-based cleaner or solvent and whether it’s suitable for your furniture piece. Remember the W, S, S/W, X code scheme we explained above? Spot-treat on an inconspicuous area and if there’s no discolouration or other problems, proceed with the cleaning by following the instructions on the label. After treating, you can soak up any residual moisture with a towel, then let the piece to air-dry.

How to keep your sofa clean

To keep your sofa clean all the time, incorporate regular vacuuming in your schedule and take care of food and drink spills immediately, so they don’t stain the fabric. You can try and keep your pets off the sofa or just give them a blanket so they have a special place next to you when you sit down. Another way to protect your upholstered furniture is to treat it with a fabric protection product (again, make sure it’s suitable for your piece).

When you clean light-coloured sofas, make sure you use white or at least light-coloured cloths too. This ensures no textile dyes will transfer from the cloth to the upholstery you’re cleaning.

If you want to take it to the next level, use distilled water when cleaning because tap water leaves residues behind and in some cases, it can actually look like a stain.


And a few tips that are not necessarily connected with cleaning but have to be mentioned:

  • To preserve your sofa’s fresh and vibrant colors, choose a place for it out of the sun and away from any heat source. Sun and heat can not only discolor your furniture but also damage it beyond repair.
  • If you wash the covers in the washing machine, don’t let them dry in the blazing sun.
  • Revive your couch by deep cleaning it once or twice a year,
  • Do that by yourself with some of the methods above or calling in a professional cleaning company to do that for you.

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