The sofa is the centrepiece of any living room. For that reason, it’s also why it gets soiled the most frequently and easily. Fear not, as in this article you will learn how to maintain and spot treat your precious upholstery.

Table of Contents:

How to prepare sofa upholstery for cleaning

  • Remove cushions – if the cushions have removable covers, wash them separately according to the material. If not, then they can be cleaned along with the rest of the sofa.
  • Get rid of large debris – these include solid spills, rocks of any kind, popcorn kernels and any other kind of debris which can be picked up or scrapped with a spatula. Always remove them first.
  • Vacuum clean – this will remove smaller, harder to spot particles, such as bread crumbs. It’s important not to overlook this step, as otherwise, you will be rubbing in the dirt while cleaning. Don’t forget to vacuum the crevices and corners as well. For stubborn pet hairs use a clothing brush.

How to remove smell from sofa

Sprinkle baking soda on the entire sofa surface and let it sit for 20-30 minutes. Afterwards, vacuum with the brush attachment. If your couch doesn’t have any nasty stains to take care of, baking soda is all you will need. If it stained, however, the following spot cleaning tips will be of help.

Check the label

Before starting any kind of cleaning, you need to know what material your sofa is made out of. Based on this knowledge you can determine the appropriate cleaning method. The label is usually located either under a cushion or at the edge of the sofa. In some cases underneath the item.

When you check the label, you will see any of these 4 letters:

  • W – Water. It’s okay to use water for cleaning your sofa
  • S – Solvent. Use only a solvent-based cleaner and no water. A consumer dry cleaning solution or rubbing alcohol are the best in this case.
  • X – Neither. You shouldn’t use any solvents or water whatsoever. Only vacuum the surface to remove dirt. Serious soiling should be left to a professional cleaning technician.
  • SW – Solvent and water. You can use either of both as both are safe.

How to clean fabric sofa with water-based solutions


The market is full of numerous commercial cleaners for both W and SW marked sofas. Whichever you choose, make sure to test it out on a small hidden spot first, to make sure it won’t bleach the sofa colour. And always follow the instructions.


If you prefer the eco-friendly way, mix one part baking soda and one part water. Apply the solution to the stain and leave it for about 15 minutes. During this time, the solution will absorb the stain. Afterwards, vacuum the spot. If the stain is still there, repeat.

How to clean fabric sofa with solvents


When you have a sofa with the S symbol, go with a water-free solvent. Make sure the room your couch is in is well ventilated. Apply the solvent onto a clean towel and apply it to the surface by blotting the stain. Do not rub. Turn the cloth as you go, so you’re always using a clean part. Repeat until the stain is gone.


Mix together ¼ cup of white vinegar with ¾ cup warm water and add ½ tablespoon of liquid dish soap. Pour the solution into a spray bottle and spray it onto the stain. Right after that, scrub with a clean cloth in a circular motion. Do this until the stain is gone. When it does disappear blot the cleaned area to get rid of any excess moisture.

Cleaning Leather Upholstery

Vacuum the sofa so any surface dirt will not scratch the leather when cleaning.


Generally, you don’t need a commercial product to clean stains off a leather sofa. However, one might come in handy for tough spots and really soiled areas. All you need to do is apply a small amount of leather cleaning solution to a towel and gently rub the dirty area. Afterwards wipe away the dirty foam and leave the spot to dry. That’s it.


Mix equal parts water and white vinegar in a container and dip a microfiber cloth into the solution. Wring it as much as you can, so it wouldn’t soak the leather surface. Wipe the parts of the sofa which need cleaning and try to use as little liquid as possible.

In both cases you need to apply a leather conditioner cream, to remoisturize the cleaned area. Otherwise, it might crack. Do not go overboard with it, use small amounts on a clean cloth and wipe away any excess. Buff to shine.

Need a professional to clean your upholstery sofa?

Fantastic Services is here for you!

Enter your postcode

Certified by:

How to maintain upholstered furniture

  • Treat spills and stains as soon as they happen – the longer you wait, the harder it will become to remove them later on. Maybe even impossible depending on what you spill and how long you wait.
  • Vacuum regularly – dust isn’t easily visible and that’s why there can be a lot of it on your sofa. Vacuum at least once a week. Bread crumbs and other food particles can scratch the surface of your sofa, especially if it’s leather. Remember to check for any coins between the cushions before vacuuming.
  • Avoid direct sunlight – once in a while is fine, but UV rays on a daily basis is a no-no for fine fabric and leather sofas. It’s always best to keep the sofa away from sunlight (either place it away from windows or install thick drapes)
  • Pet throws – pets are lovely, but they definitely leave their mark on your furniture. Purchase a throw which is machine washable and can withstand frequent washes. Avoid throws made from silk as they are both expensive and not made for frequent washing.
  • Don’t sit on the same spot all the time – the more you sit your favourite spot, the more it gets worn out. It also collects more dirt compared to the rest of the sofa. Also, flip cushions every once in a while so they get worn evenly on both sides.
  • Cover sofa when not in use – if you travel a lot and nobody else is at home, it’s best to cover the sofa in slipcases so dust and dirt won’t settle into the fibres.

Need help with cleaning upholstery?

If you feel like spot cleaning your sofa is not your thing and you’d rather spend your time on something else, then book a cleaner with Fantastic Services. The technicians we work with are experienced and always bring their own steam cleaning machines and detergents. All you need to do is point us to the dirty sofa and let us do the rest.


  • Always check the label to see what kind of upholstery you have, before cleaning.
  • Make sure you treat a stain as soon as it happens.
  • Always use the appropriate means for cleaning each upholstery type.
  • Maintain the sofa on a daily or weekly basis to keep it fresh for a longer time.

Posted in Cleaning Guides

How helpful is this article?

UnhelpfulMostly unhelpfulPossibly helpfulMostly helpfulFantastic!