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How to clean a fabric sofa naturally

Whether you’re catching up over coffee, skipping through Netflix shows, or relaxing with family, sofas provide the perfect resting spot.

However, as careful as you might be, there’s no avoiding the stains, spillages and grime that build up with everyday use (or the bad smells and discolouration which come with it).

But don’t fill your shopping trolley with expensive fabric cleaning products just yet. To give your upholstery a new lease of life, all it takes is a few natural ingredients – many of which we can bet are already in your kitchen cupboard.

Take a look at the best natural ways to clean a fabric sofa, below.

Before you get started with any of the methods below, it is worth checking the individual cleaning codes of your sofa fabric (usually found on the underside of your sofa cushions).

Give it a brush

To make sure you’re giving your sofa a sufficient deep clean, the first thing you should do is remove any crumbs or dirt from both the surface and in-between the sofa cushions (you may want to wear gloves).

To do this, you’ll need a clean, dry cloth. With the cloth in hand, brush the upholstery, ensuring you reach into all the nooks and crannies. For stubborn areas, such as dried-on spots, you may need to use a stiff brush.

TOP TIP: If your fabric sofa is lightly coloured, you’ll need to use a white cloth. Otherwise, the dye from the cloth could soak into the fabric on your sofa and cause discolouration.

Shake off bad smells

Steam cleaned natural fabric sofa

By their nature, sofa fibres have a tendency to cling to smells from pets, spillages and – ahem – natural gases. Over time, this can develop into an unpleasant, lingering scent, which isn’t ideal when entertaining guests.

While you could mask the smell with an upholstery deodoriser, this only offers a temporary solution, and you could be back where you started just hours later. Instead, you should try an easy-to-make natural fabric cleaner to remove bad smells for good.

Here’s how to remove smells from fabric:

What you need:

  • Baking soda
  • Dry carpet cleaner (optional)

How to do it:

  1. Firstly, remove any crumbs from your sofa’s surface.
  2. Then, sprinkle the entire sofa with baking soda and leave to sit for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Once the time is up, vacuum the sofa using a brush attachment.
  4. To remove stubborn stains, mix the baking soda with dry carpet cleaner and leave that to sit for another 20 minutes.
  5. If that isn’t enough, we recommend taking a handheld steam cleaner to remove lingering odours from your sofa.

Shift stains

Stain-free grey fabric sofa

For all their cosiness, fabric sofas aren’t the best at repelling spillages or deep stains. Anyone who has knocked a glass of red wine onto their favourite sofa knows this reality all too well. Thankfully, there are ways to clear up stubborn stains without the need for tough chemical products.

Take a look at our fantastic fabric sofa cleaning solution, below.

Washable handmade sofa covers in 800 fabrics

How to remove stains from fabric:

What you need:

  • Washing-up liquid
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Warm water

How to do it:

  1. Take a teaspoon of washing-up liquid, white vinegar, baking soda and warm water and mix together into a lather (the mixture should froth up as the baking soda and vinegar react with one another).
  2. Then, apply directly to any stains or smudges that you can spot on your fabric sofa. Leave to dry out for around 10 minutes.
  3. When it’s dry, wipe the surface with a clean cloth to lift away any residue - you should be left with a beautiful stain-free sofa. You’re welcome!

TOP TIP: Baking soda and white vinegar is an ace cleaning combination for any tough stain. This is because the baking soda reacts with the vinegar to create an acidic formula which gently cuts through grease and grime.

TOP TIP: This method is also superb as a natural carpet cleaner. Mix together and apply to carpet stains for a fresh new look.

If your fabric sofa has faced years of wear and tear, cleaning alone might not be enough to restore it to its former glory. In these cases, you should consider reupholstering your sofa or, if you don’t have any cleaning products to hand, using a sofa cover to hide unsightly, stubborn stains. Another option could be our specialised Sofa Care Kit.

To see more reupholstery options from Plumbs, take a look at what we cover here.

As a reupholstery specialist, we are experts at sourcing the best fabrics for our customers. However, we are not responsible for any damage caused to sofa fabrics as a result of these methods, or any other cleaning methods.


Sophie Page
Sophie Page

Sophie is a great granddaughter of the founders of the business - so fabrics and furniture are almost part of her DNA! Her interests include home interiors and upcycling, and her favourite show to watch after work is The Repair Shop. Some of the topics she covers on the Plumbs blog include sofa reupholstery and furniture protection.

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UK-wide service
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Free in-home consultation
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Over 800 fabrics
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