How to clean fabric furniture

Sofa couch linen white fabric with pillow


Normally when we think cleaning a couch, we think the couch cleaning is in response to an oily spill. While this guide will walk you through how to handle one of those scary moments, you know, the slow-motion ones where you see the grease almost hover in the air before it splatters all across your beautiful beige fabric sofa, we will also discuss ongoing maintenance to keep your couch looking as fresh and new as ever.

General Cleaning & Maintenance
Making upholstery cleaning and maintenance part of your home-cleaning routine will ensure your couch is always spick and span, even for surprise visits from family and friends. We recommend vacuuming every two weeks by using the fabric attachment or soft brush vacuum head. This is perfect for ensuring all those pesky popcorn crumbs, dust and pet hair messes are dealt with. Don't forget to clean the vacuum attachment as well between uses.

Take the opportunity to fluff, rotate and flip your cushions.

Pilling is that nuisance phenomenon where tiny balls of loose fibres and threads form after repeated friction on fabric. Although a common occurrence for fabric (clothing, shoes, etc.), the more high-quality the couch is, the less chance of pilling. You can tell the quality of the couch and its chances of pilling by looking into something called a Martindale rub-test. If the test indicates less than 25,000, you will likely have higher pilling than a test sitting at 100,000, for example.

While it's not the end of the world, pilling does give your sofa a more weathered look. An easy fix is a depiller. These are common items found in your generic craft or housewares store.

Pull the fabric taught to ensure its stretched out with no wrinkles. Use scissors to carefully cut off any long loose threads; be careful not to cut too close and risk snipping a chunk off your sofa. Once trimmed, take the depiller and run it over the surface in light, circular motions. Make sure you do this as lightly as possible so you don't nick the cushion. Take your time with this step.

Spot Cleaning
Owning a couch means accepting that one day, someone is going to spill something on it that could stain it forever. But not to worry, with focused spot cleaning, you can quickly act on the spill and have it cleaned in no time. Being prepared for these situations is key, so it's important to learn about the manufacturer's instructions before tragedy hits.

For most spills though, the following steps will gently but effectively clean the spill leaving little to no trace behind. Make sure you have a lint-free cloth or paper towel handy. Absorb as much of the liquid as possible. Please make sure you do NOT blot or rub. This will push the liquid deeper into the couch and settle into the fibers. Leave the cloth on the spill until as much of the liquid is absorbed as possible.

The perfect at-home sofa cleaning mixture is a mix of gentle dishwashing liquid with water (1-2 drops per cup of water), and shake it until bubbles form. Take your cloth and dip it into the mixture and gently blot the stain making sure not to saturate the fabric. Do not blot and push into the cushion, just lightly dab. Keep doing this until you watch the stain slowly disappear. You can leave it to air dry.

Sometimes stains can be extra stubborn. If this is the case, it's best to look into professional upholstery cleaners. Some housewares stores allow you to rent upholstery vacuums that use a cleaning solution and water to deep clean.

Now that this guide has equipped you with the necessary knowledge to deal with any type of cleaning for your fabric upholstery, don't be shy to invest in a lighter coloured sofa! One you can enjoy stress free. 


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