How to Clean a Fabric Sofa: Vacuuming, Removing Stains & More!

Although it’s practically impossible to avoid stains and spills, even if you do prevent them, the gradual discoloration over time and the dust sitting on them will eventually get to you.

There are only two ways to prevent this from happening – covering your sofas with plastic covers or cleaning them now and then.

I wouldn’t want to hide my fabric sofas under a cover, so I’m here to help you do the same and clean your sofas the right way so that they are always as fresh as new!

The Different Cleaning Codes for Fabric Sofa

The first thing to know about your fabric sofas before beginning to clean them is their cleaning codes.

Cleaning codes are the random letters that you see on your sofa tags. These tags represent the type of cleaning solution or detergent that your sofa manufacturer recommends you to use.

W – This would mean that your fabric sofa should only be cleaned with detergents and cleaning solutions that are water-based, and use water as their main component

S – This tag would represent that your fabric sofa should be cleaned with cleaning solvents. These are detergents and solutions that use chemicals as their main base component.

W/S – If your sofa tag reads W/S, then you can use either water-based solutions or solvents for cleaning them.

X – Although this tag is rare, in this case, it means that your sofa can only be treated with vacuums in case it needs cleaning.

Some sofa manufacturers even recommend certain products for their fabric sofas. But usually, you will only see a tag that reads X, W, S, or W/S.

It’s best to use whatever cleaning agent the manufacturing brand recommends because it has already been tried and tested and won’t ruin the fabric.

Otherwise, you will not only damage the sofa’s fabric but also end up voiding the warranty on your sofa.

How to Keep Your Fabric Sofa Clean

Even if you feel like fabric sofas are all clean, it’s best to dry brush them every once in a while. This is because you don’t see the dust that sits over the fabric. 

If not gotten rid of, this dust can leave stains over time, or simply cause discoloration.

The following two ways are my favorite go-to methods to keep my furniture always clean.

Things You Need

  1. Dry brush, or a clean cloth or towel
  2. Vacuum

Cleaning Your Fabric Sofa – A Step-By-Step Guide

Use the dry brush to go over the sofa once and remove any loose dust and dirt particles from its fabric. 

You can also use a clean cloth or towel for this purpose but a brush’s bristles are best to loosen the fabric and help dust off any dirt particles from it.

You can also use a vacuum for the same reason to get even better results.

The vacuum can suck all and any crumbs, loose dust, and dirt particles from the sofa’s fabric with more precision!

I use this small Brisell vacuum (aff Amazon link) that is under $50. It does a great job removing pet hair from my old cat.

These cleaning methods are mandatory to ensure that your sofa’s fabric remains fresh even if there are no stains or spills on it.

Even in the case of rigid spots and stains, you should first dust the sofa off and then proceed to clean it with recommended cleaning solutions or solvents.

How to Remove Stains From Your Fabric Sofa at Home

The worst thing that can happen to your fabric sofa is a spill or stain. No matter how hard you try, they will stand out and look bad.

However, I know exactly how to help you clean them up. 

Unless you’re using a recommended cleaning agent, the following household items can help you get rid of any spill stains on your fabric sofa.

Things You Need

  1. Warm water
  2. Baking soda
  3. White vinegar
  4. Washing up liquid

Removing Stains From Your Fabric Sofa – A Step-By-Step Guide

Take all the ingredients mentioned above and mix them up to make a solution. You should mix one part each of the baking soda, white vinegar, washing up liquid, and warm water.

  1. Mix the solution vigorously until they take a lather form. This is bound to happen when baking soda and white vinegar react together.
  2. Apply this cleaning solution to the stain that needs to be cleaned.
  3. Leave the solution to sit on the spot for around 10 to 15 minutes. The liquid will dry out at that time.
  4. Wipe the surface with a clean cloth until no solution or residue remains on the spot.
  5. If you feel like some of the liquid solution is left and didn’t get cleaned up, you can also use vacuum suction to get rid of it. 

But you can also leave it to simply air dry overnight!

This should do the job! Especially because baking soda and white vinegar together can clean most tough stains without leaving any marks.

For more help, this video provides a good visual presentation.

However, if this doesn’t work out for you, then instead of trying any further, you should probably purchase an actual fabric sofa upholstery cleaner (my preferred option is Astonish Stain Remover Soap).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to Clean Fabric Sofa With Vinegar?

If you want to clean your fabric sofa with white vinegar, add ¼ cup of it in ¾ cup of warm water and mix a tablespoon of your regular dishwasher in it.

Mix the solution in a spray bottle and use it as needed on the soiled spot of your sofa.

How to Clean a Fabric Sofa With Baking Soda?

Mix one part of baking soda in one part of warm water, and apply it to the stain that needs to be removed. Let it sit for about 10 to 15 minutes before cleaning it off.

Another way to use baking soda to clean stains is by simply sprinkling it on top of them. Let the baking soda sit for about 10 to 15 minutes and then wipe it off using any recommended cleaning agent. 

How to Clean Fabric Sofa Without Leaving Water Marks?

If you tried cleaning a fabric sofa and accidentally left a water-mark on it, or are dealing with an old water spill, the best way to get rid of the stain is by using watered-down vinegar.

Simply use one part vinegar and add two parts of water to it. Spray the solution on the water-mark, while drying it out with a clean cloth or towel at the same time.

How to Clean Fabric Sofa Without Water?

You can easily clean your fabric sofas without using water by replacing the water component in your cleaners with vinegar.

However, I highly recommend that you purchase a good solvent-based cleaner if you don’t want to use homemade water-based upholstery cleaners.

How to Clean a Fabric Sofa With a Steamer?

Steamers help deodorize and sanitize your fabric sofas using only vapors that they produce and no chemicals at all.

All you have to do is let the steamer heat up and then vacuum the surface of the fabric. 

This will help loosen the fabric up and remove any crumbles, dirt, or dust from it.

For more help on how to use a steamer on your sofa, you can watch this video.

How to Clean a Fabric Sofa Without a Vacuum Cleaner?

If you don’t have a vacuum cleaner to dust off your fabric sofa with, don’t worry!

A stiff brush or a clean cloth or towel can do the same job just fine. All you have to do is use the brush or towel to rub and wipe off the entire surface of the sofa and all dust and debris will come off.

How to Clean Fabric Sofa Cushions and Arms?

The arms and cushions of your fabric sofa are supposed to be cleaned the same way as the rest of the frame covered in the fabric.

Either use one of the home-based solutions for it or buy a good water-based or solvent-based cleaner for your sofa.

How to Deodorize a Fabric Sofa?

All you have to do is sprinkle some baking soda on the section that smells, and leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes before wiping it clean.

If the smell still doesn’t leave, you can try spraying one part vinegar with one part water on the sofa.

What is Reupholstering?

Reupholstery is a major and long furniture project. This involves stripping down the fabric sofa completely and then renewing it with a new fabric.

This is a perfect way to make your sofa new without buying a new one. However, it ends up costing more than buying a new sofa itself. Therefore, it’s only good for furniture that is either antique or of very high quality.

If you are considering reupholstering your sofas, you can find more help here.

Wrapping it Up

Fabric sofas can be hard to maintain. But if you clean and keep them the right way, they can be the best thing you do to your house!

Therefore, I brought you this article so you can enjoy one of the greatest additions to your house without much struggle for it.

Jelica Klapan

Full-time blogger and copywriter. Outside of work, I like to venture on California's finest hiking trails with my kids and our golden retriever Buddy. Doesn't get better than that!

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