DIY Sofa Cleaning Tutorial (11 Steps): How To Clean Sofas Like A Pro | homify

DIY Sofa Cleaning Tutorial (11 Steps): How To Clean Sofas Like A Pro

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  • Water
  • Alcohol
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Fabric softener
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Mist bottle
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Cleaning brush


Fabric sofas are the ultimate comfort when you want to lounge at home, whether it is to watch television or put your feet up and relax. However, over time, they get dirty with oil, dust, crumbs, pet hair, spills and stains. Changing the fabric upholstery of a dirty sofa is an expensive proposition, especially when you have kids or pets at home, which means you will need to reupholster frequently. Hiring a professional upholstery cleaner is another option. However, it comes with the risk of toxic fumes being left in your home due to the use of harsh industrial cleaning solutions.

Upholstery cleaning at home is not difficult if you know the trick behind treating specific stains and follow a step-by-step approach that tackles all types of dirt, grease and stains. Here, I will outline 11 steps that you can follow for cleaning your fabric sofas using materials and equipment you have at home or can easily purchase at a store or online.

If you are looking for tips on how to clean leather sofas, these tips can work. However, I recommend testing each technique or solution on a small portion of the leather sofa that isn’t visible before cleaning the entire couch. You should also evaluate the type of stains on the fabric to get an idea of the ingredient that might work best for eliminating the problem.

1 hourDifficultyMedium

Step 1: Vacuum the sofa

Dry dirt and crumbs are easier to vacuum when the sofa is dry. Start by using the vacuum cleaner to remove dirt and dust from the surface of the sofa. Don’t ignore the crevices in between cushions as they tend to collect crumbs and other dirt. If your vacuum comes with an upholstery brush, use it to vacuum the upholstery. Then, fix the crevice nozzle to suck up the hard to reach dirt in between the cushions.

Step 2: Rub the fabric with the cleaning brush

Next, use a cleaning brush to rub the surface of the upholstery gently to loosen any dirt or particles stuck to the surface. Do not scrub too hard to prevent the fibres of the upholstery from loosening. If you are cleaning a leather sofa, use a soft cloth or rag instead of a brush as the bristles can scratch the surface of the leather and damage it.

Step 3: Making a cleaning solution/deodoriser to remove bad smells

Now, let’s move on to the wet cleaning of the upholstery to remove stains and odours. For this, first, we will make a cleaning solution.

Step 4: Add half a cup of vinegar

Vinegar is an excellent cleaning, besides a deodoriser. Add ½ cup of vinegar to a bowl. 

Step 5: Add half a cup of alcohol

Next, add ½ cup of alcohol to the bowl with the vinegar. Alcohol evaporates quicker than water, and therefore, it makes an excellent base for the upholstery cleaning solution.

Step 6: Add 1 tablespoon of baking soda

Add a tablespoon of baking soda to the solution and mix well. Baking soda is another deodoriser that absorbs all types of odours.

Step 7: Add 1 tablespoon of clothes softener

Using fabric softener in the cleaning solution helps in conditioning the fabric, giving it a better finish and a pleasant smell. Add a tablespoon of clothes softener to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Stir until everything is well mixed. 

Step 8: Pour the cleaning solution inside a mist bottle and apply it all over the sofa

Fill a spray bottle with the homemade upholstery cleaner. Shake well to mix the solution and mist the surface of the sofa with the spray. Leave it to sit for around 2-3 minutes. Then, use a soft rag or a microfiber cloth to scrub the surface gently. If the fabric feels damp, use a clean cloth or towel to blot the excess moisture. This homemade cleaning spray should get rid of dirt and surface stains.

Step 9: Remove stains with the hydrogen peroxide

Some types of stains such as blood, mould, fruit or vegetable juices and dyes might require an additional step, using hydrogen peroxide. Add a few drops of hydrogen peroxide directly on the stain. It will fizz as it reacts with the stain. 

Caution: Before you use hydrogen peroxide on dark-coloured upholstery, you should test it on a small area at the back of the sofa. Otherwise, the sofa could become discoloured as hydrogen peroxide bleaches fabric. For light-toned upholstery, it helps to brighten the fabric, so you needn’t worry about discolouration.

Step 10: Rub the hydrogen peroxide and let it sit until it dries

Wait for a few minutes. Then, use a rag or cloth to rub the area gently. Allow the seat to dry before vacuuming it once more to remove the dry particles. You might need to repeat the process several times if it is an old or stubborn stain. 

Step 11: Final result

Your sofa will look refreshed and as good as new once you finish. The secret to a clean sofa is to use these tips to refresh the upholstery at least once in 2-3 months. Treating spills and stains as soon as they occur is better than postponing the cleaning to another day. 

Note: If your sofa has tough stains that are impossible to remove even with these tips, you can try repeating these steps a few times to see if it makes a difference. If you decide to use a chemical cleaning solution, make sure that you test it on a small patch of the upholstery (in an area that is not visible, such as the back of the sofa) before using it on the entire couch.

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