Properly Clean your Fabric Sofa

Properly Clean your Fabric Sofa

It is an inevitable fact of life–sofas get dirty. Chip crumbs find their ways into the cracks, drinks get spilled, and pets track mud all over the surface of these sturdy pieces of furniture. Luckily, cleaning a sofa is relatively easy–all you need is a bit of time and some great cleaning supplies.

Vacuum up large particles. Before getting into the deep-cleaning, you want to remove any surface debris or particles from the surface of the sofa. Use a dust-buster or a hose attachment on a full-sized vacuum cleaner to clear the sofa.

  • Use the long, narrow attachment to get into the crevices.
  • Vacuum all the surfaces of the cushions.
  • Remove the cushions and vacuum the base of the sofa.

Use a bristle brush. If there are any spots that have heavy dust or dirt caked in, use a stiff-bristled brush to break up the spots and vacuum up the released dirt. Rub vigorously, but not hard enough to damage the fabric.

Remove lint and fur. Although some companies make products specifically for households with pets, your average vacuum cleaner won’t be able to remove lint or pet hair. Use a lint roller to remove what the vacuum cleaner can’t.

  • Work in a systematic grid across the entire surface of the sofa to ensure you don’t miss any hair.

Wipe down any exposed hard surfaces. Many sofas have exposed wood or other materials, and you want to make sure you give them attention too. Find a cleaning product appropriate for the surface you want to clean. An all-purpose surface cleaner will suffice if you don’t have a surface-specific product on hand.

  • If the spray zone is broad, spray into a paper towel and simply rub that over the surface to be cleaned. This will prevent getting unwanted chemicals on your fabric.

Determine the sofa fabric. Find the tag that tells you what the sofa cover is made out of. These tags usually have instructions for what cleaning products you should use on the fabric.

  • “W” means to use a water-based detergent with a steam vacuum.
  • “WS” means you can use either a water-based detergent with a steam vacuum or a dry-cleaning detergent.
  • “S” means to use only a dry-cleaning detergent.
  • “O” means the material is organic, and should be washed using cold water.
  • “X” means to either vacuum and bristle-brush alone, or to use a professional service for shampooing.

Cleaning a Fabric Sofa with Water-Based Detergent and a Steam Cleaner

Pre-condition the fabric. Fabric pre-conditioner might not be found in your average grocery store, so you may have to purchase it online if you can’t find it elsewhere. It’s used to dissolve and loosen soiled debris and oil for easier removal during shampooing.

  • Spot-test the preconditioner on a spot of the sofa that isn’t readily viewable to make sure it doesn’t result in discoloration.
  • Spray the pre-conditioner over all the sofa surfaces you plan to shampoo.

Make a solution of detergent and water. Mix 3 ounces of your water-based detergent with 3 ounces of water in a bowl or other container.

Spot-test your detergent solution. Dip a rag into the solution and rub it on a little-seen portion of the sofa. You can use the same spot you tested the preconditioner on.

  • Let the solution sit on the fabric for 10 minutes, then check it.
  • Press a paper towel to the spot to see if any of the fabric’s dye comes off on it.
  • If there’s no discoloration, move on to the next step.

Prepare the steam vacuum. Different models of steam vacuums might look different, so this step will provide very general instructions.

  • Locate the tank on your team vacuum, and unscrew the cap that keeps the liquid in.
  • Pour the solution of fabric shampoo and water into the tank, then replace the lid.
  • Attach the hose if it’s not permanently attached.
  • Attach the stair/upholstery attachment to the end of the hose.

Apply the shampoo to the sofa.[3] Place the nozzle against the sofa’s fabric and hold down the trigger or button that releases the solution you poured into the tank. Keeping the button depressed, move across the surface of the sofa in a grid pattern, just as you did with the vacuum cleaner earlier. Make sure you apply the shampoo to the entire sofa.

  • Move slowly to ensure even distribution of the shampoo.

Remove the excess detergent. Release the button that applies the shampoo. Move the nozzle across the surface of the sofa once more this way, sucking up excess detergent back into the vacuum.

Repeat the process as necessary. If there are particular spots that need extra shampooing, spot-treat them with the nozzle. However, don’t over-shampoo any area, as it can result in permanent discoloration.

Let the sofa air-dry. No amount of vacuuming with the button released will dry the fabric out. Just leave the sofa alone until it air dries completely.


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