How to Clean a Fabric Couch Yourself

Picture of puppies on a couch

Families that share their homes with pets understand all too well how easily their furniture can take a beating. Still, just because they choose the pet-owning lifestyle doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be able to have a home that represents their own unique style. Though many experts recommend purchasing more durable, stain-resistant upholstery for couches that will adorn the homes where pets reside, there are many fabric options available today that can stand up to the use and abuse dished out by dogs and cats on a daily basis. Whether a family owns pets, kids, or is simply an adults only home, fabric couches will get dirty. Though most towns across America offer home cleaning services that include deep cleaning upholstery, extremely dirty couches take a lot of time and effort to restore to their former glory, costing homeowners a lot of money. The good news is there is a DIY approach for families wishing for their couch to be refreshed without the added expense. What is the best way to clean a fabric couch yourself?

Safely Removing Dirt and Stains from Fabric Couches

Whether a fabric sofa becomes dirty from household use, muddy paw prints, or a red wine stain, regular cleaning will be necessary to preserve the longevity and appearance of any cloth-upholstered furniture. Though many of today’s couches come with covers that are removable for easy washing in the washing machine, other portions of the sofa do not come apart and must be spot or steam cleaned to restore them to their original clean state.

Thankfully, it is not necessary to pay an exorbitant fee to hire a professional to clean household furniture. Simply following these DIY-tips will do the trick:

Review care instructions

Just as with clothing, all fabric couches have a care tag attached to them which explains how the material should be cleaned. It is important that these directions be carefully followed to prevent damage to the upholstery.

The legend found on furniture tags means the following:

W—Water can be used on the fabric for cleaning purposes.

S—Water is not safe for use on this material. The cleaner recommended by the manufacturer of the couch should be used.

WS—Either water or a cleaner can be used to clean the couch.

X—Only vacuuming is recommended for keeping the fabric clean.

Purchase the necessary supplies

In order to properly clean a fabric couch, the right supplies are necessary. The tools needed for this job include:

  1. A vacuum cleaner equipped with an upholstery tool
  2. Several microfiber cloths
  3. A bucket
  4. Water
  5. Dish soap
  6. White vinegar

Begin with a thorough vacuuming

It is surprising how much dirt and debris couches house both in their upholstery and in their crevices. In order to clean the fabric well, it is first necessary to remove any dirt from the material. This will prevent any additional dirt from being worked into the upholstery during the cleaning process.

When vacuuming, it is important to get underneath all of the cushions as well as down the cracks at the back and sides of the sofa.

Blot stains with the homemade cleaning solution

The key to helping lift stains is blotting with a fabric safe cleaning solution. To make the solution, combine two cups of water with one tablespoon each of dish soap and vinegar. Mix thoroughly then immerse one of the cloths in the solution to the point of dampness. Carefully blot the stained areas of the sofa with the soft cloth. Care must be taken not to rub the stains as damage to the fabric can occur.

Rinse and dry

Once the stains have been treated with the cleaning solution, an additional cloth should be moistened with water and dabbed on the cleaned spot to remove any residue from the soap.

The final step involves blotting the area with a dry microfiber cloth to remove as much moisture as possible. The spot should then be allowed to air dry. If necessary, a fan can be used to speed up the process.

Consider steam cleaning

For couches that cannot be cleaned with water, it will be necessary to either use a specialized cleaner or to consider steam cleaning. Before rushing to rent one, it is important to check the manufacturer’s label to see if steam cleaning will negatively impact the integrity of the fabric. Though some fabrics can withstand the moisture from steam, they can succumb to damage from the intense heat.

The process involved in steam cleaning is similar to that of using a homemade cleaning solution. The couch must first be vacuumed thoroughly to remove excess dirt and debris. This process will be repeated once the couch has been steam cleaned and has had the opportunity to dry completely.

Since steam cleaning adds a lot of heat and moisture to a home, it is a good idea to opt to do it on a day that is warm and sunny, so the windows can be opened to release excess heat.

It is recommended to have some microfiber cloths on hand to allow for easy pickup of any dirt unearthed during the cleaning process. Once the couch has been steam cleaned, it needs to dry completely before a final vacuuming can occur.

Since steam can cause some nasty burns, it is important to wait until the water has completely cooled in the unit before emptying it.

Additional Tips

The key to keeping a fabric couch looking clean and pristine is prevention. However, accidents do happen. Thankfully, they don’t have to mean our furniture is ruined because of a spill or some dirt the cat dragged in.

One of the most important things homeowners can do to help keep their fabric furniture looking good is to attend to spills and stains quickly. The sooner excess liquid or dirt can be sopped up from the material, the better the chance of eliminating the stain.

However, when drying up liquid or removing dirt, it is important to dab (or vacuum) as scrubbing can cause the stain to set. The sooner the spot can be properly cleaned, the better. However, it is important to note that some items require special cleaning to remove them from fabric. To this end, it is a good idea to look up the best cleaning agent for the item that is spilled on the couch prior to attacking it with any cleaning product or water.

Baking soda can also be an effective agent for removing stains. As an added bonus, baking soda neutralizes odors, leaving couches smelling as good as new.

Could your fabric couch use a little freshening up? Try one of our top tips to get your upholstery looking brand new again.



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