Blog

Get weekly updates on the latest interior design trends from our experts at Plumbs

How to clean sofa upholstery at home

Cleaning grey fabric sofa upholstery with vacuum

We understand that cleaning sofa upholstery can feel like a lot of effort, especially after a long day at work. But did you know there are a few quick tricks that can make your sofa look (and smell) as good as new?

And, what’s more, many of the cleaning materials needed will likely already be in your kitchen cupboard!

Got a stain you’re eager to erase? Here are the best ways to clean your sofa upholstery at home.

First of all, check the label

A good rule of thumb when cleaning upholstery yourself is to check its label (it’s usually attached to the underside of sofas), and if you’re unsure check with the manufacturer, as they may have unique rules or suggestions. If they’re like us, they will even have a specialist cleaning kit available!

On the label, you’ll find a code which tells you how to clean your fabric. Here are some of the most common cleaning codes found on sofas:

  • “W”: This means it’s okay to use water for cleaning.
  • “S” or “P”: Only use a solvent-based cleaner on fabric (dry-clean only).
  • “SW”: Either water or a solvent cleaner is safe to use. Steam is also safe to use.
  • “X”: Only use a vacuum for cleaning. Any sofas marked ‘X’ need to be professionally cleaned.

Prep your sofa

Before you clean your sofa upholstery, there are a few things you need to do to get it prepped.

What you need:

  • Vacuum (with brush/crevice attachment)
  • Baking soda
  • Carpet cleaner (optional)
  • Damp cloth

How to prepare your sofa upholstery for cleaning:

Step 1: Firstly, remove any throws or cushions and peel back the sides to remove any loose change, sweet wrappers, lost credit cards, etc.

Step 2: Once your sofa is completely clear, grab the vacuum cleaner and hook the brush attachment to the end. Suck up any crumbs or dirt using a gentle, sweeping motion. To get down the sides of your sofa, use the crevice attachment (the one with the long oval tube) and brush along the edges and seams.

Step 3: Next, it’s time to bring out the baking soda. It’s always advisable to try any new cleaning method on a discreet test area first, so you can be confident with the results.

Step 4: Once your test has been successful, sprinkle the baking soda over your whole sofa (around 1-2 tbsp per seat) and leave it to sit for at least 20 minutes to remove bad smells.

Step 5 (optional): To thoroughly clean your fabric sofa at home, mix the baking soda with carpet cleaner and, instead, spread it over your sofa. After 20 minutes, either vacuum up the dry baking soda or use a damp cloth to remove the carpet cleaner mixture.

TOP TIP: Try to avoid using coloured towels or sponges on fabric sofas; the dye could alter the colour of your sofa.

Cleaning brown velvet sofa with baking soda

Start to spot clean

Once you’re happy that all dirt and grime is gone, check to see if there are any spots or stains remaining on your sofa. If you have a leather sofa, all you need is a wet cloth to clear them up. If, on the other hand, you have a fabric sofa, you should spot clean the marks (spot cleaning is effective at removing small, superficial marks).

What you need:

  • Washing-up liquid
  • Warm water
  • Soft bristled brush
  • Spoon or spatula
  • Clean cloth

How to spot clean sofa upholstery:

Step 1: Grab a measuring jug and fill with 1-part washing-up liquid and 4-parts warm water.

Step 2: Beat the mixture together until it creates a thick spreadable foam.

Step 3: With a soft bristled brush, gently rub the foam into the stain. As you rub you should see the dirt gradually lift into the foam.

Step 4: Next, you will need to remove the dirty foam with something which won’t rub into the fabric, such as a spoon or a spatula.

Step 5: Once it’s all removed, grab a clean white cloth, dampen it slightly, and wipe away the leftover suds from your stain.

TOP TIP: Before spot cleaning your upholstery, do a test on a hidden area of your sofa. This allows you to see if your fabric can be cleaned with your chosen materials.

Spot cleaning sofa upholstery

Remove tough stains

If your sofa stains are too stubborn for spot cleaning, you should turn your attention towards hardier cleaning materials.

What you need:

  • White vinegar
  • Cold water
  • Micro-fibre cloth
  • Washing-up liquid
  • Tepid water

How to remove stubborn stains from upholstery:

Step 1: To remove sofa stains at home, blot the fabric with equal parts water and white vinegar.

Step 2: After a few minutes, wipe the stain away gently with a clean micro-fibre cloth.

Step 3: Combine washing-up liquid with tepid water and wipe over the cleaned area (try not to use too much water as this can leave stains behind, and could cause the fabric to shrink). Leave to dry naturally and viola – the stain is gone.

TOP TIP: Removing stains on sofa upholstery is easiest when they’re still fresh, so try to act fast if you do mark or spill something on your sofa.

Still can’t shift your sofa stain? Take a look at our range of sofa covers and reupholstery services.

Sally is the Digital Marketing Manager at Plumbs. Prior to Plumbs, she ran the digital marketing strategy for Johnson’s Cleaners UK. Her interests include home interiors and upcycling, and her favourite show to watch after work is Homes Under the Hammer. Some of the topics she covers on the Plumbs blog include sofa reupholstery and furniture protection.

User Comments

comments powered by Disqus
Request a visit to see over 800 fabrics in the comfort of your own home
Call to request your FREE home visit