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August 26, 2022 5 min read

Fabric sofas made from high-quality materials will stand up to most stains and spills. But they still require occasional special cleaning to remain in good condition.

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to clean a fabric sofa and have it look as good as new.

How Do I Know the Method to Clean my Fabric Sofa?

You don't want to just use any cleaning solution on your fabric couch. That's because fabric sofas usually undergo some form of pre-treatment to keep off stubborn stains, and some detergents may hinder the efficacy of the treatment or even void the sofa's warranty.

Have you noticed those random letters on your fabric sofa's label? Well, these are actually furniture care codes. They detail the manufacturer's instructions on which cleaners or solvents you can use to clean your couch.

Here's a list of cleaning codes for fabric sofas and what they mean:

  •         W: You can only use water-based detergents to clean the sofa material. A water-based cleaning solution contains water as the main component.
  •         S: You can only use a solvent-based cleaner to clean this material. Solvents contain a cleaning chemical as the chief component.
  •         WS: It's safe to use either solvents or water on this upholstery.
  •         X: You can only vacuum the sofa material. Avoid the use of solvents or water-based cleaners.

Before cleaning the entire sofa, first test the cleaning solution on an inconspicuous area. If you notice unsatisfactory results, don't use that cleaner on the rest of the sofa.

How to Clean a Fabric Couch

Fabric sofas are made from natural fibers like silk, wool, cotton, and linen. Others use synthetic fibers such as olefin, acrylic, nylon, and polyester. That means the different fabrics for sofa material come with different cleaning instructions.


Brush the sofa

Use a stiff brush with natural bristles to brush the entire sofa. This helps loosen up dried strains and remove loose particles.

Clean with baking soda

The role of baking soda goes beyond the kitchen. It is also an effective cleaner and helps loosen stains and remove odors.  To clean your sofa, sprinkle baking soda over it and allow it to sit for 20 to 60 minutes. After the baking soda has completely absorbed the stains, vacuum it all up using a brush attachment.

Prepare a DIY fabric cleaner

While the baking soda sits on the fabric sofa, you can prepare an all-purpose fabric cleaner by mixing the following ingredients in a spray bottle: one tablespoon of white vinegar, one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid, and one cup of warm water.

Next, introduce one tablespoon of baking soda into the mixture and immediately close the top of the spray bottle. Keep in mind that a combination of vinegar and baking soda will yield a lot of bubbles.

Wipe down couch

Spray the cleaning solution on a white cloth and gently rub any stained areas to break down stains. For a good deep clean, spray the entire sofa with the cleaner and wipe it down thoroughly.

Let the fabric air dry

Allow the fabric sofa to air dry overnight before you can sit or place items on it. Open the windows and turn on the fan to help circulate air more rapidly and help with quick drying.


Scrub with rubbing alcohol

Lightly mist section by section of your couch with rubbing alcohol and then scrub using a sponge. The rubbing alcohol kills germs and pathogens and lifts off the stains onto the sponge. You should choose a sponge that won't transfer its color to the sofa during the scrubbing process.

Brush in a circular motion

Allow your fabric sofa to air dry, which should take a short time since alcohol evaporates quickly. Next, take a dry scrub brush and brush the sofa material in circles. The circular brushing motion fluffs up the upholstery.

Use distilled water

You can lift off the water stains using a mix of distilled water and white vinegar. Follow the same process of spray, scrub, air dry, and then brush the fabric sofa.


Leather sofas come in different types of leather. These include full-grain leather, top grain, bi-cast, suede, and aniline. Below are cleaning instructions for leather sofas:

  1.   Start by vacuuming your leather sofa first before cleaning it. Make sure to access all those nooks and crannies.
  2.   Use a clean, dry microfiber cloth to wipe down the entire fabric sofa.
  3.   Prepare an all-purpose cleaner by mixing equal parts of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray the cleaning solution on the microfiber cloth to make it damp. Then wipe down the leather sofa.
  4.   Wipe the sofa dry with a piece of dry microfiber cloth.
  5.   Always apply a leather conditioner on your leather sofa after every 6-12 months to keep the fabric feeling pliable.

Best Couch Cleaning Products

Woolite Fresh Fabric Cleaner – 12oz

Woolite Foam Cleaner tackles stubborn stains with powerful Triple Action Technology. This means that it cleans, refreshes, and eliminates odors on fabrics, upholstery, and carpets. It also comes with a built-in fabric-safe brush, so you won’t have to get a new one.

To clean your couch, apply a small amount of foam to a stained area. You can then brush it clean without saturating it to keep your couch looking cleaner for longer.

Bissell Fabric and Upholstery Cleaner 12 oz

The BISSELL Fabric & Upholstery Cleaner is specially designed to safely clean fabric and carpet fibers, leaving a clean fresh scent. It comes with a built-in, fabric-safe brush that gently loosens and eliminates stubborn stains and dirt. This cleaner is known to neutralize even the most repulsive odors.

BISSELL Little Green ProHeat Carpet Cleaning Machine (2513G)

The BISSELL Little Green ProHeat portable carpet cleaner machine that effectively eliminates stubborn stains and spots via the power of Professional Spot + Oxy Formulas.

Its design allows for storage in small spaces and easy transport from one space to another when cleaning. It's also designed with Heatwave Technology to help maintain consistent water temperature throughout the cleaning process.

The Bissell portable cleaner comes with three specialized tools and formulas, including:

  • Tough stain tool
  • Self-cleaning hose
  •  PRO OXY Spot and Stain Formula
  • Stair tool


The Bottom Line

You don't have to freak out whenever you get a spill or stain on your fabric sofa. The tips mentioned above can help you clean such messes and get rid of odors on your own. Besides that, cleaning your sofa can also help prolong its life and make it look as good as new.



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