Cleaning Guides

How to Clean Fabric Sofa Without Water

Fabric sofas are pretty popular, and for a good reason. They come in all kinds of colours, patterns and textures, making them easier to combine with your other furniture pieces. They are also very affordable. However, fabric sofas easily absorb oils, pet hairs, crumbs and whatever else you can think of. When you add that they’re not easy to clean to the mix, you’ve got quite a situation on your hands. 

Sometimes you can spend hours rubbing the fabric, only to see that the stain has spread further. When moisture seeps under the fabric, it can cause long term damage to the pillars and the wooden frame. The larger problem is that most people simply don’t know how to clean their fabric sofas without water. Or rather, how little water they truly need.

So, if you:

  • Accidentally poured liquid over the sofa and the label says “no wash”.
  • The cushion covers on your sofa are not removable for washing.
  • Are wondering if you can use carpet cleaning methods to clean your fabric sofa.
  • Have a sofa that’s starting to smell funny and want to do something about it.

Then read on and learn how to clean a fabric sofa without water!

Check the sofa’s cleaning codes

Before starting any cleaning activity on your sofa, always check its cleaning code. Some of you already know it; others might not. If you ignore what the code says, you can seriously damage your sofa. The letter you will see might not make much sense initially, so this is what each one means:

  • W – You should clean your sofa with only water or water-based cleaners
  • S – You should clean your sofa only with solvents.
  • S/W – You can use either solvents or water-based cleaners. Both will do just fine.
  • O – You can only use cold water to clean your sofa.
  • X – No water or solvents are allowed. Clean your sofa only via vacuuming or by calling a professional.

Clean the sofa surface

Any cleaning procedure starts with the removal of large pieces of dirt and debris.

  1. Remove the cushions if possible.
  2. Remove breadcrumbs and dirt with a white, clean, dry cloth. Check the nooks and crannies as well; breadcrumbs always end up there.
  3. Loosen up dried-on spots with a stiff brush. The armrests and headrests will need the most attention.
  4. Vacuum – the vacuum cleaner should get all the hard to see particles you’ve missed, along with any pet hairs. Make sure you use the soft brush setting so you don’t scratch the sofa.
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How to clean a fabric sofa without water

Now that the sofa surface is rid of hard particles, it’s time to go into detail.

Freshen up your fabric sofa

  1. Sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda on the surface of your sofa to remove any funky smells. Do not sprinkle too much baking soda, though,  as more will not work better or faster.
  2. Leave it like that for about 20 minutes.
  3. Vacuum all the baking soda off your sofa.

Spot cleaning

After vacuuming all the baking soda off, you might notice some stains, which will need individual spot treating. Whether you use a DIY solution or a specialised dry cleaning product, always test on an inconspicuous spot first. As far as DIY solutions go:

  1. Mix 1 tablespoon of white vinegar, 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid and 1 cup of warm water.
  2. Pour the solution into a spray bottle.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of baking soda into the mix. Mind you, when combined, the baking soda and white vinegar will fizz a little and make some bubbles. This is not dangerous – it just means the solution is working.
  4. Spray the solution onto a white cloth. It has to be white as not to transfer any colour to the sofa.
  5. Dab the stain gently.
  6. Place several clean towels over the spot so they can soak up any excess moisture. This will help the fabric dry faster.

How to clean a polyester sofa

With polyester sofas, you need to be just as careful, if not more.

  1. Dampen a sponge with water. If the stain you’re cleaning is greasy, add some dishwashing soap.
  2. Lightly brush over the stained area. Avoid pressing or squeezing the sponge, otherwise, you risk damaging the polyester.

Read more by checking out our blog post on how to clean polyester upholstery.

Final tips

  • If possible, avoid placing your fabric sofa near a window or windowed doors. The sunlight will make the colours look dull in several years.
  • Place throws over your sofa to better protect it from getting dirty.
  • Clean your sofa regularly to avoid germs, dust build-up and dust mites.
  • Dry solvent cleaning products are ideal for sofas marked with X. However, just in case, you should test even this product on a spot on your sofa that isn’t visible

Need a professional?

Find a professional to take care of your sofa.

Add a valid postcode e.g. SE1 2TH
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Hire a professional

The tips mentioned here should help you out; however, if you’re still unsure, consider booking a professional. Fantastic Sevices works with highly skilled and fully equipped professionals. They can remove the most common stains from coffee, food and wine, and eliminate unpleasant odours.

Not only that, but you will get free fabric protection, so your sofa looks and smells fresh longer. Call us today for high-quality sofa cleaning!


  • Always check the label on the sofa, as otherwise, you may damage it irreversibly.
  • Remove the large and hard debris first before treating the fabric with any DIY or dry solution.
  • Before spot treating any stains, test out the solution on a spot that no one will be able to see.


Did you manage to clean your fabric sofa? Did we miss any important tips? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

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