Tips for Cleaning Up a Fabric Sofa

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Not only do fabric sofas look great in the living room, but they are also incredibly cosy especially for those cold winter months. But, cleaning them can be a particularly difficult challenge. Tea and coffee spillages are going to happen every now and then, and unless you are going to use a plastic cover on your sofa, you are going to need to know how to efficiently clean one. During this short guide, we are going to run you through some of the best ways in order to freshen up your fabric sofa.

When reading through this short guide, if you are unsure of whether some our tips are suitable for the type of fabric sofa that you have, upholstery suppliers can provide you with the professional advice you need.

Before you start to clean your fabric sofa, it is important that you take a few factors into mind in order to clean it properly.

  1. 1. Review the Sofa Manufacturer’s Instructions

It’s important to always check the manufacturers cleaning instructions before you start cleaning the sofa. If you don’t, you could be in danger of void the product warranty or completely ruin the sofa all together.

  1. 2. Check the Sofa’s Tags

Don’t worry if you can’t locate the manufacturers’ instructions. There will be a tag somewhere on your sofa (most commonly they are on the cushions) that give you some cleaning information. Please keep in mind that some tags will have information on both sides. One side might have instructions on how to clean the cushions and the opposite for the rest of the sofa, so it’s important to make sure that you are reading the right instructions before you start cleaning.

  1. 3. Understand What the Upholstery Cleaning Codes Mean

Whether you are giving your sofa a deep clean to eliminate stains and just giving it a freshen up, you need to know what cleaning products are required for the job. And, that’s where cleaning codes come in extremely handy. Carry on reading to understand what the different cleaning codes are and what they mean.


The cleaning code “S” means “Solvent”, which means that you should only use water-free solvents on your sofa. For example, dry-cleaning solutions and clear alcohol solvents.


If your fabric sofa’s cleaning instructions has the letter “W” on it, then that means you should clean it with a water-based solution. This means that products like soap, specialist shampoo and washing-up can be used. The cleaning code “W” is the complete opposite to “S” so harsh chemical and alcohol-based solvents should be avoided to prevent your sofa’s fabric from becoming damaged beyond repair.

“S – W”

This cleaning code basically means a mixture of both the “S” and “W” cleaning codes. Do be aware that sometimes this cleaning code can also appear with the letters the other way around, but it means the same thing.

With this cleaning code, you can use a blend of specialist shampoo, gentle alcohol-based solvents and light dry-cleaning solutions. However, please do be aware that you shouldn’t saturate the fabric when using a mixture of cleaning solutions and this can sometimes cause permanent damage to the sofa’s fabric.


The cleaning code “X” simply represents the word “vacuum cleaner”. So, if your sofa’s cleaning instructions have this code on it, then you cannot use any other method of cleaning other than use a vacuum clear or a brush. If you do end up spilling a drink or end up with a bad stain on your sofa then the only way to get this cleaning is by paying a visit to a specialist dry cleaner.

Closing Tips on Keeping Your Fabric Sofa Clean

As well as giving your sofa a good clean every now and then, there are a few simple things that you can do on a regular basis to keep it in the best possible condition.

  • – Once a week take off all the sofa’s cushions and give them a good hoover to remove any unwanted crumbs. When doing this, make sure that you are using a soft brush head to avoid causing any damage to the fabric. Using a low suction setting is also advised to further lower this risk.
  • – One thing important thing to be aware of is the effect that dark colour trousers can have on a light-coloured fabric sofa. There is a possibility that the dye could rub into the sofa’s fabric. Be particularly careful when wearing black or dark coloured jeans.
  • – As much as a plastic cover can reduce a sofa’s appeal, we would advise using them to protect the fabric if you have pets, especially cats and dogs. They can get muddy paws that can spoil fabric beyond repair even after cleaning and also spread parasites and germs, which can make your sofa a breeding ground for bacteria.
  • – Lastly, avoid using your washing machine at all costs. Most fabrics are not suitable for this type of cleaning and can damage the material beyond repair. By using a washing machine, even at low temperature could affect how fire retardant the fabric is, together with causing the fabric to shrink and a loss of colour.

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