The Worst Things To Stain Your Sofa - Revealed! 

We’ve all been there. You’re sitting watching a late night movie and you’re completely immersed. You go to take a sip of your cold beverage and… whoops! The drink ends up on your sofa and this horror is far more real than whatever is on your screen. 

The same could be said for being hard at work on your laptop - you go to take a much-needed swig of coffee and it ends up on your pristine fabric sofa. You have a slice of pepperoni pizza and in your enthusiasm to eat it, drop it, topping-side down, onto your centrepiece furniture. 

The experts at MSofas have ranked the ten worst things you can stain your settee, giving you some sofa-saving advice on how to mitigate the damage. 

#10 - Chocolate

Chocolate can be a true nightmare to remove from your sofa, if done incorrectly or left to sit. Chocolate works as a combination stain - part oil, part dye and solid. People typically rub the stain and this will embed it into the upholstery and make it near impossible to get off cleanly. 

The right way is to use a tool like a butter knife to remove the solid part of the chocolate, then sponge with cold water. Using a detergent/soap mixture to clean the stain is recommended after to get any residue off. 

If you have left the chocolate to set, you will need to use a bleach/water mixture and soak the stain for a couple of hours, only on washable fabrics and not to be done on silk, wool or any leather. 

Can Cost: £15

Stain Difficulty: 5/10

#9 - Pet pee

One of the more annoying stains that can happen, the difficulty rating included the factor of dealing with an unruly furry friend. The added drama aside, getting rid of the side is a gross-yet-manageable affair. 

Using a water-vinegar-soap solution, you can clean the initial stain before using baking soda on the pee to get rid of any lingering odour. Leave the soda to set before vacuuming up. The same can be done for all materials. While leather is more durable and resistant, the smell can still be a big problem.  

Can Cost: £9

Stain Difficulty: 6/10

#8 - Oil/Grease

While it can seem daunting and impossible to remove a tough oil/grease stain, they have triglycerides which are easy to remove using a strong, soapy detergent. If you spill hot oil, this can be very problematic however. In the worst case scenario, you will have damaged the leather or fabric beyond repair. 

As soon as the spillage happens, use paper towels to dab and absorb the grease up as much as possible. Don’t rub or push down on the oil as you can cause it to spread over the sofa. Once a towel begins to soak it, replace it with a fresh piece to ensure you’re absorbing as much as possible. 

Similar to the pet pee, using baking soda is a wise course of action - it is perfect for soaking up the oil, removing any lingering smell and is safe for most materials. It will need to be left to sit overnight. If the oil has been sitting for a while, a soap and water solution will be needed to blot out the stain and leave it to air dry.

Can Cost: £8

Stain Difficulty: 7/10

#7 - Paint

Paint stains are common on all furniture. Not only can they look garish (depending on the colour), they can also be a hassle to clean once it dries. If you notice it fast, a wet cloth will save you. Unfortunately most paint stains come during home renovations where the damage isn’t noticeable till days after. 

It is important to notice the type of paint that caused the stain. Water-based stains can come off using warm water, a soapy detergent and alcohol. A sharp object might be needed to pry off any dried bits too. An oil-based paint can cause much longer lasting stains, which would require a mixture of paint thinner, gentle brushing, hot water and detergent water.

Can Cost: £20 

Stain Difficulty: 7/10

#6 - Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce could be the most frequent culprit to ruin your perfect sofa out of all these stains. It can come in the form of a tasty homemade spaghetti sauce, ordered in pizza, some ketchup or a marinara. 

A dropped pizza slice or some spilt pasta sauce can happen so easily on the sofa, and tomato stains are rightfully one of the most feared. Like many of the stains mentioned above, time is of the essence - you can’t let the tomato sauce settle into the upholstery or it is game over for your settee. 

A small knife, warm water, soap detergent, vinegar and a spray bottle should be enough to get the tough tomatoey substance out of your sofa. Using the knife should allow you to get rid of any excess sauce, and the rest will help you blot out the ingrained stain. 

Can Cost: £9

Stain Difficulty: 7/10

#5 - Permanent Marker 

The crime can happen in a flash. A sharpie left lying around, a child unsupervised and before you know it… a big marker using your sofa as a canvas. You might think that the ‘permanent’ marker has put an end to your pristine sofa, but you would be wrong. If you act fast with vinegar, laundry detergent, cold water and lots of rubbing alcohol, you can get the piece of abstract art off your furniture. 

Once you have used a sponge to dab the soap mixture and vinegar into the marker, using a magic sponge can be the key when getting all of the permanent marker off your sofa. 

Can Cost: £16

Stain Difficulty: 8/10

#4 - Blood 

Spilt some blood on your furniture and you don’t have access to a Winston Wolf character to come clean your mess? Thankfully, we have a remedy to help clean up one of the worst stains you can make on your sofa. 

Usually your sofa label will let you know whether you need to get it dry-cleaned. If you can clean it, using cold water and hydrogen peroxide will be needed to get out blood stains. 

Quick attention and cold water is needed; any heat will get the blood to settle in. Blotting will remove most of the stain, then using hydrogen peroxide will stop it from staining like a mild bleach solution, without damaging the sofa material. If this doesn’t work, using a cold water washing detergent will do the trick. 

Can Cost: £11 

Stain Difficulty: 8.5/10

#3 - Fruit Juice 

Fruit juice can feel like the healthy and right option until you spill it on your sofa, then it is anything but. It doesn’t matter whether it is concentrated or real, cranberry or orange, the damage can be severe. 

Thankfully, if you act fast you may be able to save your couch. A key remedy to fruit juice stains is vegetable glycerin, water, an enzyme cleaner, soap detergent, white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, paper towels to soak up the sugary substance and a hair dryer to top it all off. 

While that may sound like a mission impossible-esque task, dabbing up the juice, letting the enzyme cleaner to sit on the stain and the cold water to drain out the stain is the crucial first step. After, use the enzyme cleaner to remove any residue along with the soap detergent for the tougher juice stains. If the stain is being tough, the hydrogen peroxide should be called in to bleach the material. Finish by blotting and drying to prevent any water residue. 

Can Cost: £20 

Stain Difficulty: 9/10

#2 - Red Wine 

The most infamous and feared of all the stains, you are right to be wary when you see your guest swirling their glass. Whilst it may seem like an innocent tactic to release the flavours in their wine, it can cause havoc on your sofa. 

You will need to rapidly apply paper towels and a clothing stain remover to the area (if you don’t have stain remover, sparkling water will substitute). If you have neither, apply plenty of salt to the area until you can get them. The towels and salt will help soak up the wine, with the stain remover and sparkling water helping stop the wine from being absorbed into the sofa. 

You should aim to blot the wine stains to not rub it into the fabric, and work outside the stains to stop it spreading. 

Many people think the white wine method is a myth, but it really does work. It removes the dark pigment from red wine, leaving your sofa in the pristine condition it was before the accident. Pouring white wine onto the stain with a small amount of baking soda can remove the colour and hide the disaster perfectly. 

Can Cost: £20 

Stain Difficulty: 9.5/10

#1 - Chewing Gum 

This “stain” is the silent killer of all stains. It can sit on your sofa for months on end, until a guest asks what that clump stuck on the fabric is. No, it’s not some quirky decoration on your settee. It’s a discarded piece of chewing gum.

If not removed correctly, it could damage your sofa and leave irreparable damage to the fabric, requiring a whole new piece of furniture.

A quick fix for the sticky substance is to use cold-compress items (ice, compressed air) to freeze the gum and make it easy to break off. Have a vacuum ready as it will break into tiny pieces. Hopefully, it will come off after some serious application to get it all frozen. In some cases, it isn’t possible to freeze it all, and will require an expert to remove it correctly from the sofa. 

Can Cost: £133.50

Stain Difficulty: 10/10


Using expert knowledge, the time taken to get rid of the stain was used as the ‘stain difficulty’ rating and the cost was used as an additional metric to tie break the same ranking. The cost is approximated through the cleaning items required to fully treat the stain. 


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