How to Clean Fabric Sofa at Home: A Complete Guide

How to Clean Fabric Sofa at Home: A Complete Guide

So you've invested in a fabric sofa, and it has served as the centrepiece of many gatherings, binge-watching sessions, and maybe even a few naps. But over time, your beloved sofa collects dust, food crumbs, and occasional spills. 

You can't ignore it any longer—your sofa needs a clean-up. Luckily, there's an easy method for cleaning a fabric couch at home. 

Before starting, watch this video for a quick answer. Try to see how you you can use several methods to clean the Samantha 3-Seater Fabric Sofa:

Why Is Regular Sofa Cleaning Essential?

A clean sofa is more than just an aesthetic need; it's also about hygiene and longevity. Frequent cleaning can help remove allergens like dust mites and pet hair, leading to a healthier living environment. Plus, if you take good care of your sofa, it can last a long time and save you money in the long run. So yes, regular sofa cleaning is not just about keeping up appearances; it's an essential home maintenance task.

Key Factors for Effective Fabric Sofa Cleaning

Fabric Type

Not all fabric sofas are created equal, and the different sofa materials can greatly impact your cleaning approach. Your sofa could be made from natural fibres like cotton or linen, or synthetic fibres like polyester. The type of material dictates which cleaning agents are safe to use. Be sure to check the sofa's label or consult the manufacturer's guidelines to ensure you're using the right cleaning products.

Sofa Cleaning Codes

Your sofa should come with a tag featuring a cleaning code, usually 'W', 'S', 'WS', or 'X'. Each code signifies what type of cleaning solution to use:

W: Water-based cleaning agents

Use a mixture of water and mild dish soap for cleaning fabric sofas with a 'W' label.

S: Solvent-based cleaning agents

For an 'S' label, opt for a specialised solvent-based upholstery cleaner to tackle stains like ink. These cleaners usually mention "solvent-based", "stain remover", or "spot remover” on the label.

WS: Either water or solvent-based can be used

A 'WS' label means you can use either water-based dish soap or a solvent-based cleaner depending on the stain.

X: Vacuum only, no water or solvents

For an 'X' coded sofa, stick to vacuuming, preferably with an upholstery attachment, and avoid any wet cleaners.

Tools Available

  • Vacuum Cleaner with Upholstery Attachment: Removes dust, crumbs, and pet hair, making initial cleaning easier.

  • Soft Cloths or Microfiber Cloths: Ideal for gentle blotting and application of cleaning solutions.

  • Mild Dish Soap or Specialized Upholstery Cleaner: Serves as the primary cleaning agent, effective at breaking down most stains.

  • Soft-Bristle Brush: Helps in loosening stains and dirt without damaging the fabric.

  • Water: Used for diluting cleaning solutions and for rinsing the cloth as you clean.

  • Towels: Helpful in blotting the sofa dry after cleaning to prevent watermarks.

Having these basic tools at hand will make your sofa cleaning endeavour much more effective and stress-free.

How to Remove Stains From Sofa at Home - Understanding Stain Types

Understanding how to clean a fabric sofa naturally and the type of stain you're dealing with is crucial for effective cleaning. Different stains require specific treatment approaches. Below are four basic stain types and simple steps to address each:

1. Food and Beverage Stains (Coffee, Wine, Ketchup) - Clean With Baking Soda and Dish Soap

Food and Beverage Stains Cleaning

  • Step 1: Gently blot the stain with a dry cloth; don't rub.

  • Step 2: Mix a tablespoon of baking soda and mild dish soap with two cups of cold water.

  • Step 3: Dampen a cloth with the mix and dab the stain, starting from the edges.

  • Step 4: Blot with a dry cloth and allow to air dry; repeat for tough stains if needed.

2. Ink Stains - Clean With Alcohol

 Ink Stains cleaning

Photo by Dorin Puha, Natsarin Kanna, Edwin Tan on istock

  • Step 1: Do NOT use water, as it can cause the ink to spread.

  • Step 2: Gently dab the ink stain with a cloth dipped in isopropyl alcohol.

  • Step 3: Blot with a clean cloth to absorb the alcohol and the stain.

  • Step 4: Repeat until the stain is gone without using water, then air dry. And that's how to clean a fabric sofa without water.

3. Pet Stains - Clean With Sofa Cleaner Spray

Pet Stains cleaning

Photo by Cunaplus_M.Faba, Rabizo, Manuel-F-O, on istock 

  • Step 1: Remove any solid waste material with a spatula or plastic bag.

  • Step 2: Blot the stain with paper towels to absorb as much moisture as possible.

  • Step 3: Apply an enzyme-based fabric sofa cleaner spray specifically designed for pet stains. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and waiting time.

  • Step 4: Blot up the cleaner, then use a damp cloth to rinse the area. Air dry completely.

4. Oil-Based Stains (Grease, Makeup) - Clean With Baking Soda

oil-Based Stains cleaning

Photo by new look casting, Alex Potemkin, FotoDuets on istock

  • Step 1: Blot excess oil with a clean, dry cloth.

  • Step 2: Cover stain with cornstarch or baking soda for 15 minutes.

  • Step 3: Vacuum up the powder.

  • Step 4: Dab the remaining stain with a permitted cleaner, then blot it dry. And that's how to clean a sofa at home using baking soda naturally.

Remember to always test any cleaning product on an inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t harm the fabric, especially if you have light-coloured furniture or need to know how to clean a white fabric sofa at home. And if your sofa has a specific cleaning code, make sure you're complying with those guidelines when dealing with stains.

Pets and Allergies

fur cleaning

If you have pets or allergies, specialised cleaning is essential. Hypoallergenic and enzyme-based cleaners can effectively remove allergens and pet dander. Choosing a pet-friendly sofa also makes life easier by offering durable and easy-to-clean fabric options, which further helps in reducing allergens and simplifying maintenance.

Drying Time

After cleaning, how long it takes for your sofa to dry is crucial. A damp sofa can attract more dirt and may develop a musty smell. Speed up drying time by using absorbent towels and consider using a fan to circulate air.

Don'ts for Sofa Cleaning

  • Don't Use The Wrong Cleaning Solutions: Always check the cleaning code before applying any product.

  • Don't Over Wet The Fabric: Excessive moisture can lead to watermarks or even mould.

  • Don't Rub Stains: Rubbing pushes the stain further into the fabric; always blot.

  • Don't Skip The Patch Test: Always test a small, hidden area before applying any cleaner to the entire sofa.


1. Is baking soda harsh on fabric?

Baking soda is generally considered safe for most fabrics. In fact, many people use it as a natural deodorizer and stain remover. However, like with any cleaning agent, it's always a good idea to do a small spot test on an inconspicuous area of the fabric first. This way, you can ensure it doesn't cause any discoloration or damage. 

2. Is vinegar good for couch cleaning?

When it comes to couch cleaning, white vinegar can be effective in removing light stains and odours. It also acts as a natural disinfectant. But remember, always dilute it with water, typically a 1:1 ratio before using it on your couch. 

And just like with baking soda, it's wise to do a patch test first to make sure it doesn’t harm the fabric or alter its colour. If you're unsure, consulting the care label or manufacturer's guidelines for your couch is always a smart move.

Summary: Why A Clean Sofa Matters


Maintaining a clean sofa is about more than looks; it's for your well-being and the sofa's longevity. Regular cleaning not only beautifies your space but also makes it healthier and more inviting. But let's be realistic: even the best-maintained sofas have a lifespan. So, knowing how to remove stains from a sofa at home becomes invaluable for prolonging its life.

If your sofa reaches that point where no amount of cleaning can bring it back to life, don't worry. There are plenty of options for sofas in Malaysia available online, offering fresh starts and new focal points for your living space.

With the right guidance and tools, whether it's a cherished old sofa or a brand-new addition, your sofa can serve as a comfortable, clean centrepiece. Cheers to a home that feels as inviting as it looks!

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