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How To Clean A Fabric Sofa

You probably sit on your couch every day. It’s where you go to cuddle with family, partners or even your pets. It’s also where you sit to watch TV, drink a cup of tea and unwind. Naturally, you want to feel relaxed when you’re sitting on the couch, which means you want it to be clean and odour-free – but when was the last time you cleaned your sofa?

If you’re not quite sure of the answer, or if you have any visible stains or odours, it’s probably been too long since your sofa has had a good clean. So, in this article, we’ll cover all of our best tips on how to clean your favourite fabric sofas as well as how often you need to do it.

How Often Should I Clean My Sofa?

woman brushing a fabric sofa
A Person Brushing A Fabric Sofa

Keeping your sofa clean should be a real priority for any homeowner – particularly if you have children or pets. Leaving it too long to clean the fabric on your couch could lead to bacteria build-up, mould growth, and unpleasant smells. However, there are certain types of cleaning that are better to do at different stages.

Regular, Weekly Cleaning

When it comes to cleaning your fabric sofa, little and often should be your methodology. This is because It’s much easier to tackle any dirt as it arises than leaving it to deal with later.

So, in terms of regular weekly cleaning, you should:

  • Vacuum the surface of the fabric to remove any pet hair or crumbs.
  • Lift the sofa cushions to vacuum underneath.
  • Wipe down any small stains that accumulate.
  • Wipe any larger stains immediately rather than waiting – the longer you leave a stain, the more difficult it is to remove.
  • Use a non-staining fabric freshener or odour eliminator to keep your sofa smelling fresh.

Heavy Duty, Deeper Cleans

You should think about giving the surface fabric of your sofa a deeper clean once every few months. This will prevent stain build-up, remove dust and dust mites as well as keeping your sofa odour free.

In addition, once a year you should have your sofa cleaned by a professional who could use a method such as steam cleaning or dry cleaning. This will make sure any dirt, dust and odours aren’t collecting in the cushion stuffing or in the upholstery.

An easy way to make this much simpler is to opt for a high-quality faux leather sofa instead of a fabric one. These clean way easier than fabric sofas.

What Is the Best Way To Clean A Fabric Sofa?

When choosing a cleaning method for your sofa, you have lots of different options. However, there’s not necessarily one best method because the one you choose will depend on your sofa specifically as well as your own needs.

The best way to clean your fabric sofa may vary depending on:

  • The exact fabric used.
  • How long it’s been since you’ve cleaned it.
  • Whether you have any allergies to harsh cleaning products.
  • Whether you’d rather use a chemical or a natural cleaner.
  • The type of dirt on your sofa – from red wine, to coffee, to pet fur, each comes with its own recommended cleaning method.
  • The manufacturer’s instructions.
  • The colour of your sofa

Always Check The Manufacturer’s Instructions

instructions on how to clean a sofa
Checking The Manufacturer’s Instructions To Clean A Sofa

Before we give any advice on how to clean a fabric sofa, the most important thing is to check the manufacturer’s instructions and any labels to avoid causing any damage or discolouration.

You should look out for upholstery cleaning labels with specific codes including:

  • ‘W’ – Spot clean with water. (This doesn’t mean machine washable.)
  • ‘S’ – Do not use water. Spot clean with solvent based fabric cleaner or dry clean.
  • ‘SW’ – Use water or solvent based cleaners for spot cleaning. Dry clean also suitable.
  • X – Only use a vacuum cleaner.

What Is The Best Fabric Cleaner For A Couch?

When it comes to the best fabric cleaner for your couch you have a few different options depending on the type of spillage, the type of couch as well as whether you’re looking for a spot clean or a deep clean. Just remember, if you have a beautiful crushed velvet sofa, you will want to consider a different cleaning method to some of those below.

Vacuum Cleaner

The least invasive way to clean your couch is to use your vacuum cleaner with its upholstery attachment to hoover crumbs and pet hair from the surface fabric as well as under the couch cushions.

Using A Dry Cloth

If you’ve spilt some water or a clear liquid onto the couch, the best way to clean the fabric is to use a dry cloth to soak up the spill. Make sure to push firmly into the couch and remove the cushion cover if you can to make sure you’ve absorbed all of the liquid. Otherwise, you could risk mould growth or mildew. Then, simply leave the couch and cushion uncovered to air dry.

Baking Soda And White Vinegar

Whilst baking soda and white vinegar won’t give your couch a deep clean, they are great deodorisers and spot-cleaners. You can make a cleaning solution with warm water, 1 tablespoon of baking soda and a few drops of vinegar in a clean, empty spray bottle. Then, spray this lightly over sofas labelled with a ‘W’ to get rid of any nasty smells. You can also use a paste of baking soda and water to remove small stains.

Water Based Cleaners

If your sofa has a ‘W’ on the label, it is able to be cleaned using a water-based cleanser such as:

  • Dish soap and water – Dish soap is great for removing any oil stains or build-up as it cuts through fat easily. Therefore, if you’ve had any oily spills or food spills on your sofa, add half a teaspoon of clear dish soap to a litre of water. Then, gently rub the stain with a non-dyed cloth.
  • Carpet cleaner – A water-based carpet cleaner can also be used to spot clean as long as your sofa is water-compatible.
  • Steam cleaning – If your sofa needs a deeper clean, you can use a steam cleaner. This is a good option for those who want to avoid harsh chemicals or solvents. It’s also a good deodoriser. However, you should hire a qualified professional in order to avoid causing damage.
  • Washing machine – Not all water-compatible sofa fabrics can be washed in a machine. However, if you’ve specifically purchased a machine washable sofa, you can remove cushion covers and pop these in at a low temperature. However, always make sure to follow manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Detergent – You can also remove cushion covers and leave them to soak in a tub filled with lukewarm water and liquid detergent for a good, general clean.

Solvent Based Cleaners

Sofas made with materials like cotton, rayon, silk, and other organic fibres are unable to be cleaned with water due to the fact that this makes the fabrics swell. So, if you’ve got any of these materials in your couch, or it has a label with an ‘S,’ you’ll need to use a solvent-based cleaner instead.

Solvent-based cleaners are particularly good at removing greasy spills from sofas. Start by using a semi-stiff brush to rub any crumbs and dirt away, then use your solvent-based cleaner to remove grime.

How Do You Deep Clean A Fabric Sofa?

The best deep-cleaning method for your fabric sofa depends on its material as well as the type of spillage. Some of the most common deep cleaning solutions for popular stubborn stains include:

  • Coffee – Blot the stain and use liquid detergent mixed with water. For milky coffees, use a cleaner such as dish soap or a carpet cleaning solution that cuts through grease. Blotting with vinegar and lukewarm water can also be effective.
  • Red wine – Blot the wine as much as possible. Then, make a paste out of baking soda and water, scrubbing this into the couch. For best results, use a stain-remover spray.
  • Dusty sofa – A heat-based cleaning method such as steam cleaning is the best way to remove dust, dust mites and bacteria. Then, use an antibacterial fabric spray to keep your sofa fresh.
  • Nasty smells – Baking soda is a natural deodoriser and is great for absorbing smells. Sprinkle dry baking soda over your couch fabric and even the cushions once the cushion covers are removed. Gently rub the baking soda around and let it sit. Then hoover. You can also use an odour eliminator spray.

Remember, if you’re unsure, always consult a professional and remember to check your sofa label to check if it’s water-compatible or not.

How Do You Clean A Light Fabric Sofa?

The best way to clean a light fabric sofa is with clear liquids and a cloth. For a stain or just for a general clean, combine equal parts white vinegar and water in a jug or bowl and gently blot or wipe your couch. You should also make sure you’re not using too much and making the sofa too wet, as this can lead to mould.

You can also use a stain removal spray or powder as long as this is compatible with your sofa’s fabric.

You should also be really careful with the type of cloth you’re using to clean your light fabric sofa. This is because some types of fabric cleaner as well as rubbing the cloth onto the sofa can cause colours to run which can lead to even more staining.

Always make sure to spot test any cleaner or cleaning method on an inconspicuous area if the couch to make extra sure you won’t make any further stains or discolour the fabric.

Time To Get Cleaning

couple cleaning sofa
Two People Cleaning A Grey Fabric Sofa

There you have it – our best top tips for cleaning sofas, fabric furniture and upholstery. For sofas compatible with water cleaners, a baking soda and vinegar solution, dish soap or steam cleaners will do the trick. Whereas, for sofas with organic fabric, you’ll need to use a solvent-based cleaner or take your fabric to the dry cleaner.

Just always remember to check your sofa’s label, test any cleaners on a small area of the fabric and consult a professional when in doubt or for any deep cleaning needs.

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