How to Clean Fabric Couch: Simple Steps for a Fresh Look

Last updated on June 5, 2024

In this guide, you’ll learn effective methods to clean your fabric couch, ensuring it looks fresh and lasts longer.

Key takeaways:

  • Gather necessary supplies for cleaning your fabric couch
  • Understand the cleaning codes on your couch’s care tag
  • Vacuum the couch thoroughly before starting the cleaning process
  • Spot clean stains with appropriate methods based on their nature
  • Follow proper steps to clean and maintain couch cushions

Table of Contents


Before diving into the cleaning process, gather the following items to effectively clean your fabric couch:

  • Vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment – to remove dust, crumbs, and pet hair.
  • Clean, white cloths – to prevent color transfer during spot cleaning.
  • Gentle clear dish soap – for making a cleaning solution suitable for most fabric types.
  • Distilled water – to avoid potential water stains from tap water minerals.
  • Spray bottle – for easy application of the cleaning solution.
  • Soft-bristled brush – to gently work the solution into the fabric without damaging it.
  • Baking soda – an optional natural deodorizer for removing odors.

Quality and suitability of the supplies will ensure the cleaning process is safe for your couch’s fabric and effective in maintaining its appearance.

Upholstered Furniture Cleaning Codes

Before diving into the cleaning process, it’s critical to understand the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning method, indicated by the cleaning code found on the care tag. This code is essential to prevent damaging the fabric. Here’s a brief explanation of each code:

  • “W” signifies the fabric can be cleaned with water-based solutions.
  • “S” means that you should use a solvent-based cleaner.
  • “WS” or “SW” indicates that either water or solvent-based cleaners are safe to use.
  • “X” advises that the fabric should only be cleaned by vacuuming or light brushing.

By adhering to these codes, you’ll ensure that your cleaning process is safe for the specific material of your couch. Always perform a patch test in an inconspicuous area to ensure the cleaning method does not cause discoloration or damage.

Step 1 – Vacuum Couch

Begin by using a handheld vacuum or the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner to remove crumbs, dust, and debris from the surface of your couch. This initial sweep helps to prevent rubbing in dirt during the wet cleaning process.

Pay special attention to crevices, seams, and under the cushions where particles and pet hair often accumulate. If your vacuum has variable power, use a lower setting to avoid damaging delicate fabric.

For added effectiveness, consider lightly brushing the fabric with a soft-bristled brush to loosen stubborn dirt before vacuuming.

Step 2 – Spot Clean Stains

Begin by identifying the nature of the stain; whether it’s oil-based, water-based, or an unknown substance will determine your cleaning approach. For water-based spills like coffee or juice, lightly dab the area with a mixture of water and a small amount of dish soap. Avoid scrubbing which can embed the stain further into the fabric.

For oil-based messes, such as grease, baking soda works effectively to absorb and lift the stain. Gently apply it on the affected area, let it sit for a few minutes, then vacuum it up.

In both cases, use a white or light-colored cloth to prevent color transfer and work from the outside of the stain inward to avoid spreading it. For stubborn stains, consider a fabric-safe cleaner, but test it on an inconspicuous spot first.

If the stain persists or you’re unsure of the fabric’s sensitivity, consulting a professional may be the best course of action to prevent damage. Remember to treat stains as promptly as possible to increase the likelihood of complete removal.

How to Clean Couch Cushions

Begin by removing the cushions from the couch, if they’re detachable. This makes them easier to handle and allows you to clean in all the nooks and crannies. Check cushion covers for care labels; some may be machine washable. If they are, wash them according to the manufacturer’s instructions, typically using a gentle cycle with cold water to avoid shrinkage and color bleeding.

If machine washing isn’t an option or if only spot cleaning is advised, use a high-quality upholstery cleaner or a homemade solution of mild detergent and warm water. Test the solution on an inconspicuous area of the cushion to ensure colorfastness. Apply the cleaner delicately with a soft-bristle brush or microfiber cloth, working in a circular motion to lift dirt and stains.

After treating stains, it’s important to avoid saturating the cushion with water, which can lead to mildew. Instead, use a damp cloth to gently rinse the treated area. For cushions that aren’t covered in water-sensitive fabric, steam cleaning can be an effective method for a deeper clean, as long as it adheres to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Once cleaned, air-dry the cushions before replacing them on the couch. Do not expose them to direct sunlight or heat sources, which can cause fading or warping. Ensure the cushions are completely dry to the touch to prevent moisture from being trapped within them, which can lead to odor or mold. For additional freshness, consider a light spritz of fabric freshener once the cushion is dry. Regular maintenance, including fluffing and rotating the cushions, will help prolong their life and appearance.

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