How to Clean Fabric Sofas

Your couch or sofa is likely the focal point of the living room. It is the comfiest spot in the house and well used by everyone. It is where your kids post up when they are sick and home from school. It is where pizza and popcorn is served during family movie night. It is where you and your spouse cuddle after the little ones are FINALLY snug in their beds, and it is where you and your best friend have a glass of wine when she comes over to chat. Over the last couple of years, it has probably been used more frequently than ever.

It is important to periodically deep clean your couch to remove stains, spots, and odors that may have resulted from so much use. We recommend a thorough deep cleaning at least one to two times per year. After a long winter, spring is the perfect time to give your couch some TLC. Adding deep cleaning your couch to your spring cleaning routine will help extend the life of the couch and maintain its original beauty.

Hiring a service to deep clean your couch is an option, however, it is expensive and unnecessary. Rug Doctor provides professional-grade solutions and machines that can provide the same level of clean at a fraction of the cost. Do it yourself and save those dollars for something more fun that can add style to your couch – like Pinterest-worthy seasonal throw pillows!

Follow our recommendations listed below to get the best deep clean for your couch.

Check your couch for cleaning instructions and warnings listed by the manufacturer.

  • If your couch has removable cushion covers, it is likely you can wash them in the washing machine. Removable cushion covers will have cleaning and drying instructions listed on a tag from the manufacturer. Follow the instructions for cleaning the removable cushion covers as listed on the tag. You can use the steps and recommendations listed in this article for the couch arms and back.
  • If special cleaning instructions for your couch are required, they will be listed on a cleaning tag attached to the couch. Find this tag and make sure there are no warnings or special instructions (for example, dry clean only).
  • Most furniture manufacturers code their couches with the same cleaning codes and include them on the cleaning tag. Your couch is likely coded with a W (water-based cleaning okay), S (mild water-free cleaning solvents only), S/W (both water-based and water-free cleaning are okay) or X (clean only by vacuuming or light brushing, no water or cleaning agents).
  • The recommendations listed in this article are only applicable to couches and upholstered furniture with W or WS cleaning codes.
  • Do not use the following recommendations on silk, velvet, vinyl, leather, suede or Haitian cotton. Contact the manufacturer for special instructions about how to clean these materials.

Vacuum your couch before deep cleaning.

  • If there are hardened or dried food or liquid stains, try to gently brush or scrape these areas to break up the stain into loose grit that can be vacuumed.
  • If you have pets, use a fabric lint brush to brush the couch and remove pet fur.
  • Locate the upholstery attachment for your vacuum and thoroughly vacuum your couch to remove loose soil, dirt and debris.
  • Pay extra attention to the cracks, crevices and the seams where cushions are sewn to the couch itself. These areas are well-known to attract hair, dirt and food crumbs.
  • Perhaps address the fact that the couch may look clean at this point, but it’s only a surface clean.

How to clean stains from fabric sofa

  • Use a pre-treat or multi-purpose upholstery cleaner to pre-treat heavily soiled areas. We recommend Rug Doctor Fabric + Upholstery Multi-Purpose Cleaner. It is formulated to gently remove stains, restore the look of fabrics and protect the area from future stains. You can purchase this at any of our 40,000 rental locations or at .
  • If you have pets, you may want to treat urine and other biological pet stains with a pro-enzymatic formula. Rug Doctor Urine Eliminator Plus is a good choice, because it also has odor neutralizers that destroy odors and deter pets from re-marking.
  • You can also make your own cleaner. There are several recipes available. A quick Google search can help you find the one that best works for you.
  • Before using any cleaner, do a spot check. Apply a small amount in a hidden area and blot using a white paper towel. After one minute, make sure no color has transferred to the paper towel.
  • Generously spray heavily soiled areas with your cleaner of choice and allow solution to penetrate.

Skip couch deep cleaning services and DIY with a professional-grade deep cleaner.

  • A professional-grade deep cleaner shoots a water and cleaning solution mixture onto the soft surface and then uses powerful suction to extract the water, dirt and grime from the surface and from deep with-in.
  • If you do not have a deep carpet cleaner with an upholstery attachment, Rug Doctor offers a Pro Portable Detailer and Spot Cleaner for rent at several participating locations. It is compact and lightweight, making it easier for you to maneuver than a traditional upright deep carpet cleaner. Though it is smaller, it still has professional-grade suction power you would expect from a Rug Doctor machine. The Pro Portable Detailer and Spot Cleaner also has a motorized head that does the scrubbing for you.
  • If you are deep cleaning your couch as a part of a larger deep cleaning project that includes large carpet areas and rugs, we recommend renting the Rug Doctor Pro Deep Carpet Cleaner with the upholstery attachment. The Pro Deep upholstery attachment utilizes the same head with a motorized brush as the Pro Portable Detailer and Spot Cleaner.
  • Whether you are using a portable spot cleaner or an upholstery tool attachment, you will need an upholstery cleaner concentrate to use with the machine. We recommend using Rug Doctor Spot + Upholstery. This triple action formula deep cleans, deodorizes, and protects soft surfaces. It is available for purchase at any of our rental locations and on Before using any cleaner, be sure to do a spot check as discussed earlier.
  • Follow the instructions for deep cleaning your couch as listed on the machine.

Completely dry your couch before using.

  • Make sure your couch is completely dry before putting it back to use. Completing a few “dry passes” with the deep cleaner can speed up dry time. A dry pass is simply using the machine without depressing the solution dispense button.
  • Opening windows and turning on ceiling fans can also speed dry time.
  • If possible, remove the cushions and stand them up instead of leaving them flat and against the adjacent fabric.
  • After the couch is completely dry, you can give it a once over with the vacuum to fluff and soften the fibers.

You will be amazed how much a deep clean can bring your couch back to life! It is well worth the time and energy. If you are not completely spent after deep cleaning your couch, you can use these same steps, solutions and machines for deep cleaning other areas such as stairs, autos, mattresses and any other soft surfaces. The deep cleaning possibilities are endless with you and Rug Doctor!