How to Clean a Fabric Sofa?

Fabric sofas and sofa beds are hugely popular nowadays. With more and more cheap options available for small and large spaces, it makes sense to buy a fabric sofa. However, with living spaces being an area where most people visit in homes, they’re highly susceptible to stains. Especially in homes with children, pets or the occasional party. Dirt can build up over time from day to day use, so regular sofa cleaning is essential for fabric sofas. 

Check Sofa Cleaning Codes

First, check your sofa’s cleaning codes. These are the manufacturers' cleaning codes for how to clean your fabric sofa. Cleaning codes can either be found on the manufacturer's instructions or the inside of the sofa cushions. Specific tags within the sofa cushions will show the same information as your manufacturer instructions for cleaning your sofa. 

Fabric sofa cleaning tags showing different types of cleaning codes.

What are the Sofa Cleaning Codes? 

Cleaning Code

How To Clean Your Fabric Sofa


Sofa can be cleaned using water


Do not use water to clean this sofa. A solvent-base cleaning solution is needed to clean the fabric sofa


You can use water OR solvent-based cleaning solution for cleaning your sofa


Use a vacuum or brush ONLY to clean your sofa.

Water may seem like an easy, harmless solution to clean your fabric sofa, however deviating from the instructions can mean permanent damage. 

Water Cleaning Fabric Sofas

Steam Cleaning Fabric Sofas

Lots of fabric sofas can be cleaned using a steamer, when marked with ‘W’ or ‘WS’. However, check the manufacturer’s instructions, as some sofas can’t withstand the heat. To test this, complete a spot test on your fabric sofa before cleaning the whole thing, as this eliminates any disasters during a full sofa clean. We recommend doing this in a less prominent place. 

It’s beneficial to vacuum your sofa before steaming to get the best results. Vacuuming before a steam clean stops any large pieces of dirt or hidden items getting in the way whilst steaming.

Once you begin your steam clean, take all cushions off the sofa and steam one side of them first. Let this side dry before steam cleaning the other side of the cushions. This will stop any damp smells. Make sure all the corners and edges of the sofa are cleaned by using an angled attachment to the steamer and use fast strokes to prevent a waterlogged sofa. 

Once you’ve steam cleaned your fabric sofa, you should ventilate and heat your home to dry your whole sofa quicker. 

Steam cleaning fabric sofas is usually a last resort for some owners. With steam cleaning being the best option for getting ink stains out of a sofa or removing wine stains out of fabric sofas. However, it is often the most expensive choice.

Person cleaning a fabric sofa using a steam cleaner.

Water & Baking Soda Fabric Sofa Cleaner

If you don't have access to a steam cleaner for your fabric sofa, then using water with baking soda is an easy alternative. You’ll need a brush, baking soda, a vacuum cleaner, a cloth and some water.

  1. Brush your sofa down to remove any pieces of dirt.

  2. Vacuum the sofa to collect any hair or smaller pieces of debris.

  3. Mix your baking soda and water together (1 teaspoon of baking soda)

  4. Gently blot the stain on your sofa with your water using a clean cloth. 

  5. Ventilate your room to help the sofa dry quicker. 

Solvent Based Sofa Cleaning

Fabric sofa stains happen all the time, with food, drink and pet stains being among the main offenders. ‘S’ allows solvent based cleaning, with ‘WS’ tagged fabric sofas allow both water and solvent based cleaning. This gives you more options depending on what type or size of stain you’re tackling. 

Using water combined with stain removers to clean your fabric sofas is often seen as a stronger option for more stubborn stains such as coffee or wine. Solvent based cleaners cut through dirt and grease quicker than using an alternative, but make sure to follow the instructions on your chosen product with some careful blotting. Using a clean cloth whilst blotting prevents fabric damage.

Again, it is advised to either brush or vacuum your fabric sofa before cleaning to remove larger pieces of dirt or debris. 

Cleaner using a sofa cleaning product with a brush to clean a fabric sofa.

Vacuum Clean Your Fabric Sofa 

Like any other furniture in your home, fabric sofas collect dirt, it’s just not as easy for you to see. Vacuuming your fabric sofa helps to remove invisible dust or dirt while keeping your sofa pet hair free. Using lint rollers or specialised pet hair removal tools can help to further assist your vacuum clean.

Certain fabric sofas only allow a vacuum clean, with no water or cleaning products. This is due to the fibres and material of the sofa. Solvent based products or water used to clean an ‘X’ tagged sofa will leave permanent stains and damage, so the only option is to vacuum or brush your fabric sofa clean.

Fabric sofa being cleaned and vacuumed

Msofa’s gives you the option to choose your Cleaning Codes

All Msofas’ sofas and fabric furniture can be made to order, with any cleaning code. We have several fabrics for each type of sofa, meaning how you clean your fabric sofa can be chosen by you. The Asti range can be made in fabrics ranging from leather, which is usually an ‘WS’ tag, to a fabric sofa material. We even have armchairs that can be made to your cleaning needs, the Safin armchair has both velvet and fabric options. But if you prefer cleaning your sofa using water based products, then our fabric options are able to accommodate this. 

Shop Our Fabric Sofa Options here