How To Clean A Fabric Couch?

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Fabric couches can be a wonderful addition to any home, helping to set the room right and help your family relax in their own space. However, sometimes they can be a bit of a nightmare to clean.

Spills, stains, and accidents are a near-daily occurrence, and having a  fabric couch (read absorbent and stainable) can be stressful. 

But don’t panic – In this guide, Our commercial cleaner shares tips that will help you clean your couch, maintain it, and prevent any staining if there are any unfortunate spills. Read on to find out all of our tips and favourite methods for cleaning your fabric sofa.

Before You Start Cleaning

You will need to determine a few factors about your sofa, which will change the method that you use to clean and maintain your couch. 

  1. First things first, you will have to review your manufacturer’s cleaning instructions, usually found on the internet, or in booklets that came with the sofa.

    As they have made the piece, they will have the best understanding of how to clean it, and failing to follow their instructions might void any of your warranties, or might completely ruin your couch. 
  2. If you can’t find the manufacturer’s instructions (maybe your couch is second-hand, or the company has no website), then you can look at the tag/label found on your sofa cushions, or the underside of the base. This should clue you in on important information, like whether your sofa material is water-soluble.

    Bear in mind that there might be a few different tags, with different information and instructions. For example, tags on the cushions might be for cleaning the sofa covers, whereas others may be for washing the cushions themselves. 

    Generally,  your tag will contain essential information, but in abbreviated form. There are usually four letters that you find on your sofa tag; W (you can clean with sofa using water), S (no water can be used on this sofa, you will instead need to purchase a special solvent-based cleaner), WS (you can use water, or a solvent-based cleaner on this sofa), and X (vacuum only). 
  1. You should never, ever deviate from the cleaning methods that are recommended by these tags. No matter how innocuous it seems, or if you have used it on other sofas without any adverse effects, don’t use any other cleaning methods. It can actually cause a stain on your sofa or ruin the fabric. 

How To Clean A Stain Out Of A Fabric Sofa?

If your sofa tag has an ‘X’ on it, then you should only ever vacuum the sofa to clean it. If your sofa has an ‘S’, then you can only use solvent-based cleaners on it. The instructions for these types of cleaners should be clearly labeled on the packaging. 

If your sofa has a ‘W’ or ‘WS’ on it, then you will need the following items/ingredients to clean a stain out of your fabric sofa:

  • A vacuum with an attachment meant for upholstery. 
  • At least three light colored microfiber cloths, which won’t bleed onto the fabric of your sofa. 
  • A bucket or bowl. 
  • Distilled water (as the minerals found in your tap water can sometimes leave a chalky residue on your water). You can make your own distilled water, or you can purchase it at your local grocery store inexpensively. 
  • Liquid dish soap. 
  • Distilled white vinegar. 

Top tip – spot tests your homemade solutions in a small, inconspicuous, and rarely seen part of your sofa before you begin cleaning so that you know it won’t damage or discolor your fabric. 

Steps For Cleaning A Stain Off Of Your Fabric Sofa

  1. Vacuum your couch, so that you are not rubbing any dirt or debris further into the material while cleaning.
  2. In your bowl or bucket, mix together about two cups of distilled water with one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid and one tablespoon of vinegar.
  3. Dampen your microfiber cloth with your cleaning solution.
  4. Gently blot any stained areas of fabric with the damp cloth. Don’t rub or scrub, as this can damage the fibers.
  5. Moisten a fresh microfiber cloth with distilled water (no dishwashing liquid or vinegar this time), and blot the affected area to remove any remaining soap.
  6. With a dry microfiber cloth, blot the area one more time.
  7. Point a fan on the area to make sure it dries completely.

How To Steam Clean Your Fabric Couch?

If you have a sofa with a tag marked ‘W’ or ‘WS’, you may be able to use a steam cleaner on it (which has been specifically designed for upholstery).

Don’t go in all gung ho though – double-check manufacturer instructions to make sure that it is A-OK, and won’t damage the fabric. Some materials can withstand the water, but may not be able to take the heat. 

Again, we recommend that you spot-test the steam cleaner on a small, unseen part of the sofa so that you are sure that steam cleaning won’t cause any permanent damage. 

In addition to whether you can steam, or clean the sofa, the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions should tell you which settings you should use on your couch. We do have a few tips to help you clean your sofa with a steam cleaner: 

  • As with stain removal, vacuum your sofa before you start to steam clean. After you have totally steamed your sofa, and it has completely dried, you should vacuum it again. 
  • Pick a warm, temperate day to steam clean your couch, so that after you have steamed it, you can open the windows and air out the room afterwards (so your home and sofa don’t develop dampness or mold). 
  • Some steamers use microfiber cloths to collect dust/, dirt and debris as they clean, and make sure that if this is the model of your cleaner, you change the cloths frequently through the cleaning process. 
  • After you have stemmed your sofa fully, point a fan towards your sofa so that it dries faster. 

How To Perform A Maintenance Clean Of Your Fabric Couch? 

In addition to strain removal and steam cleaning, we suggest that you do what we call ‘maintenance cleans’ regularly, even if there isn’t something specific that is dirty.

For this, you will need a vacuum cleaner, a brush (like a kind of lint or soft brush), baking soda, and water.

Again, check that all of these things can be used on your sofa before you begin cleaning it, and spot tests them on a patch of material that you don’t see. 

  1. Gently brush your sofa to begin, this will loosen any larger pieces of dirt and grime. 
  2. Remove any dust or debris with your vacuum cleaner. 
  3. Apply the baking soda, by simply sprinkling it across the surface of the cushions. It will act as a cleaner. 
  4. Let this mixture sit for around 20 minutes, and then vacuum it up with your vacuum cleaner. 

If you are after an even deeper clean than this, then you can mix the baking soda and water together, and then wash your cushions in the washing machine (only do this if your fabric is washing machine safe). 

Alternatively, you can take the cushions to your local dry cleaner, who are experts in deep cleaning tricky upholstery (and usually have a guarantee that ensures that you will get your sofa coverings back in tip-top condition).

Though more expensive, this is a great option if you have a pricey couch made out of an expensive, finicky, or specialist fabric, like cotton, corduroys, or any kind of delicate natural fabric, like silk or linen. 

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Final Thoughts

Though they can be a little bit of a pain to clean fabric couches add comfy, cozy-chic to your house. Knowing what your fabric can stand when it comes to cleaning methods is the first step in keeping your fabric couch as good as new.

We recommend vacuuming it often, and spot treating stains, do a deeper clean once a year if your sofa can stand it.

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