How To Clean A Fabric Sofa: Top Tips

how to clean a fabric sofa


Fabric is the most popular choice when it comes to sofas, they're beautiful and comfortable and make a gorgeous centrepiece in your living room, but over time they do tend to attract dust, dirt and sometimes stains from spills or otherwise. If you want to keep your fabric sofa looking its best whilst also prolonging its lifespan, you'll need to ensure you're regularly cleaning it. So, whether you're facing a small spill or just planning a thorough deep clean, heres a handy guide to help you clean your fabric sofa. 

Important: Before you begin

Its important to the check the care instructions the manufacturer has provided before you begin cleaning to make sure you're not going to do any damage to the sofa. These guidelines can usually be found on the tag attached to the sofa in the form of codes, and they'll tell you which cleaning methods are safe and suitable to use. These codes include:

  • W : Use water-based cleaning solutions. This is the easiest to clean
  • S : Use solvent-based cleaning solution only.
  • WS : Use either water-based or solvent-based solutions.
  • X : Professional cleaning only or use nothing more than a vacuum.

What you'll need

Depending on the cleaning code given by the manufacturer and the extent of the clean, you may need the following items to assist you in cleaning your fabric sofa:

  • Vacuum with upholstery attachment
  • Soft bristled brush 
  • Microfibre Cloths
  • Water/Solvent based sofa cleaner (as per the manufacturers guidelines)
  • Baking soda
  • Steam cleaner/Iron with steamer
how to clean a fabric sofa

Cleaning your fabric sofa

Now that you're aware of the manufacturers cleaning guidelines and have gathered your supplies its time to get started. We've put together a step-by-step guide to help you clean your fabric sofa with confidence.

Step 1 - Brush the sofa

Using a soft-bristle brush, gently brush over all of the sofa. This will make things much easier later on in the process by removing obvious crumbs and debris, or if you have pets, hair and some scratches too. It is crucial that you pay attention to the brush you're using, if the bristles are too hard it could cause damage to the sofa. 

Step 2 - Vacuum the sofa

Using the brush/upholstery attachments on your vacuum, loosen crumbs and dirt. Make sure to get in all of the crevices and folds as this is where a lot of it will be hiding. You might even find a couple of one-pound coins whilst you're there! Vacuuming is an essential step to prevent dirt from getting embedded deeper into the fabric during the cleaning process.

Step 3 - Steam clean the sofa

If you've got.a steam cleaner that you've been dying to use, now is the chance. Steam cleaners are great for agitating dirt and preparing your sofa for a good clean. Don't panic if you don't own a steam cleaner, a good iron with a steaming function will work too. Start with a small area and then work your way all over the sofa, this will really help to refresh the fabrics and leave it looking and smelling much better.

Step 4 - Treat any stubborn stains on your sofa

If you've got tough stains on your fabric sofa that look like they might not come out with a simple clean, you can treat them individually first to help them on their way.

For water-based stains you can mix a few drops of washing up liquid with water and lightly dampen the stained area. Blot the stain with a clean, white cloth - working from outside to prevent the stain from spreading outwards. Use a separate cloth dampened with water to remove any soapy residue.

For oil based stains you can start by sprinkling baking soda on the train and allow it to sit for 15-20 minutes, this will help absorb the oil. Then, vacuum the baking soda and apply a small amount of rubbing alcohol to a soft cloth and start blotting the stain.

Step 5 - Patch test your cleaning product

Before you begin covering your sofa in your cleaning product of choice, its important to do a spot test to make sure the product isn't going to damage or discolour your fabric sofa. Apply a small amount of the cleaner to a part of your sofa (preferably one thats typically out of sight), let it sit for a few minutes and then blot it with a clean cloth. If theres no adverse reaction to the cleaner, you can continue.

Step 6 - Deep clean your fabric sofa

Now that you've taken all of the necessary steps to help prepare your sofa for a good clean, its time to get to the main event. You don't need an arsenal of products for the deep clean, just a good sofa cleaning solution from your local supermarket (again, its crucial to check the manufacturers guidelines to determine the type of solution you'll need to clean your fabric sofa)

As there are various different products available, we recommend you follow the instructions on the packaging to avoid damaging your fabric sofa. As a general rule you'll apply the products and gently dab (don't rub) to distribute the cleaner.

Step 7 - Dry your sofa

You've gone to so much effort to clean your fabric sofa, the last thing you want now is to end up with it smelling of damp! Its crucial to allow your sofa to dry off, and helping it to do so in the process by keeping a window open to help ventilate the room with fresh air. You can also have a fan or two facing the sofa to help it on the way. Ventilation is key here.

Step 8 - Vacuum your sofa.. again

Now that your fabric sofa is dry and looking/smelling great, its time to give it one last once-over with the vacuum just to finish it off. This will make sure to get rid of any left over bits (from the cloth or otherwise).

how to clean a fabric sofa


There you have it, our step-by-step guide to cleaning your fabric sofa, by following these 8 simple steps you can keep your sofa fresher for longer and prolong its lifespan in the process. If you think your current fabric sofa is beyond cleaning and are looking to purchase a new one, check out our complete collection of fabric sofas here.