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The Best Approach to Cleaning Fabric Furniture & Preventing Stains

The Best Approach to Cleaning Fabric Furniture & Preventing Stains

The furniture is not only there to fill in the blank spaces in our home but also reflects our lifestyle. In fact, on most occasions, the couch is our go-to place for midnight snacks and afternoon naps.

On that note, knowing how to clean furniture fabric is a must for all binge watchers and remote workers, especially since we’re prone to accidents, such as coffee spills.

We all know fabric furniture can be tough to clean, but you can now use our step-by guide to help you get rid of the stains in a flash. We also included some tips on protecting the material from smudges.

How to Clean Furniture Fabric?

When it comes to getting rid of the stains from your furniture, the first thing you need to do is check the fabric’s cleaning tags. You will find them under the cushions. Once you locate the tags, you’ll notice they contain one of the following symbols — “W,” “S,” “S/W,” “WASH,” or “X”.

Each symbol denotes a different cleaning approach:

  • W” stands for water. In other words, you must clean the fabric using only water-based mixtures, such as washing-up liquids, soaps, and carpet-cleaning solutions. To avoid damaging the interior, use distilled water and blot the fabric with a damp rag. You should never use harsh chemicals, like rubbing alcohol, since they can harm the exterior.
  • S” represents solvent, which indicates you must use water-free solvents, like rubbing alcohol and dry-cleaning purifiers. You can also use baby wipes if you’re dealing with vinyl or leather fabric. “S” also stands for linen, silk, cotton, and wool fabrics.
  • S-W” stands for solvent and water, meaning you can use water-based mixtures, like detergents, shampoos, and dry-cleaning solvents, to get rid of the stains.
  • The “WASH” code implies the fabric is machine washable.
  • X” stands for vacuum, which means that you can only use a vacuum cleaner or a brush. If by any chance you have a sofa with the “X” tag, you probably won’t be able to clean it thoroughly by yourself. Instead, you’d have to turn to a professional cleaning service.

Now that you know how to clean fabric furniture by decoding the tags, let’s get into more detail.

Vacuum the Fabric

The first step in your cleaning journey starts with the vacuum cleaner. This way, you’ll eliminate the crumbs or pet hair from the exterior of your upholstery. Regular vacuuming will not only keep your furniture clean and odor-free, but it will also prolong its longevity.

What does regular mean? If the furniture is used often, for example, if you use your sofa on a daily basis, you should vacuum it every week. If your upholstery is located in rooms that you don’t use often, you can do this once a month.

Use appropriate vacuum cleaner attachments to clean all parts of the furniture, and don’t forget to remove the cushions. If you have leather furniture, use a dust brush extension.

Keep in mind that using a vacuum cleaner on delicate fabrics, such as linen, wool, silk, lace, or chiffon, could damage the upholstery. To avoid this, lower the suction level.

Use Baking Soda

Baking soda should be your go-to ingredient if you want to freshen up your furniture. To do this, put the baking soda on the surface of your sofa, and wait for at least 20 minutes before vacuuming it using a brush extension.

You can also use baking soda to clean the stains from your furniture. All you have to do is create a cleaning solution by mixing white vinegar (1 tbsp), dishwashing liquid (1 tbsp), warm water (1 cup), and baking soda (1 tbsp).

Use a clean cloth soaked with the mentioned solution and start rubbing the stain. Repeat the process until the stain is gone.

Use Water and Mild Detergent

If you want to remove grease stains from your furniture, mix 1 tbsp of liquid detergent with two cups of warm water. Use a microfiber cloth and tap the stains gently, don’t rub them. Once you get rid of the stain, dry the fabric.

You can also combine three-quarters of warm water with one-quarter of vinegar and 1 tbsp of dish soap. Put the solution in a bottle and sprinkle the stained areas. Use a dry cloth to scrub the stain. Once the strain is gone, use a damp cloth to remove the soap.

Use Rubbing Alcohol

If you’re having problems getting rid of ink stains from your furniture, you need to put some rubbing alcohol on a white cloth. Keep in mind that you must tap the fabric, not rub it. This way, the ink will transfer from the fabric into the cloth. Once the strain is gone, use a wet cloth to clean the area from alcohol and dry the fabric.

Hire Professionals

If you’re dealing with mold and hard-to-clean stains, like grass, permanent markers, or red wine stains, you should hire professionals. Start by calling them and arranging a free examination to determine which course of action should be taken.

For example, fiber protector services, such as Steamy Concepts, use special equipment, like HEPA vacuums and air scrubbers, in addition to antimicrobial solutions designed specifically for mold stains. They also deal with asbestos and lead paint removal.

That said, professional cleaning services utilize fabric-friendly cleaners suitable for all types of materials that will not change the look of the fabric. Plus, they use steam to dry the furniture, which means your couch will be ready to use within a few hours (depending on the material).

How to Protect Fabric from Stains?

While it’s impossible to keep the dirt away from your furniture, there are a few things you can do to keep them clean and protected:

Regular Maintenance

Our furniture gets dirty each time we use it, so it’s vital to clean it regularly using a vacuum or a brush. This way, you’ll get rid of accumulated dust, which can cause allergies. Moreover, if you have pets, you should use a lint brush and pet smell removals.

Use Fabric Protector Sprays

Fabric protector sprays come in many forms. For example, some products are designed specifically for natural or synthetic fabrics, while others come with multipurpose formulas. In other words, you can use them on various materials.

However, to be on the safe side, test the spray on a small area to make sure it doesn’t affect the texture or the color of the fabric.

Fabric protector sprays offer full protection only when they are completely dried. In some cases, they will dry in less than 10 minutes, and in others, you might have to leave them overnight. On that note, opt for a spray with a quick-drying formula if you need to use the furniture immediately.

Keep in mind that the sprays need to be reapplied every six months.

Use Slipcovers

How to prevent stains without breaking the bank? Invest in slipcovers. Slipcovers come in many styles and colors, so you won’t have any problems finding the one that fits. They are also easy to set, you can put them in a washing machine, and they can last for up to five years if maintained regularly.

Get Stain Resistant Furniture

The easiest way to protect your furniture from potential strains is to buy upholstery made of stain-resistant materials, such as synthetic fibers (polyester, nylon, acrylic, rayon, olefin) and wool. Synthetic fibers are easy to clean, and they can protect your furniture from moisture, odors, and mildew.

The Optimal Solution

Now that you know how to protect furniture from stains and how to clean it using homemade stain solutions make sure to do regular maintenance. In addition to that, always check the cleaning tags before you start scrubbing to avoid damaging the fabric.

And if the situation hasn’t gotten a bit out of hand or you simply don’t have the time to do it yourself, let us at Steamy Concepts handle things for you!


What is the best way to clean fabric chairs?

First, you must vacuum or brush it to eliminate the dust and crumbs. Then, depending on the fabric type, you should use water-based mixtures or water-free solvents to eliminate the stains.

You can also use baking soda to remove the smell. Just sprinkle the soda all over your chair and leave it there for about 20 minutes. The last step is to clean the baking soda using a vacuum cleaner with a brush extension.

How do you clean old furniture fabric?

Leave it outside for a couple of hours to air out. Now, use a vacuum cleaner multiple times since old furniture tends to have more than accumulated dust.

Use disinfectants to clean non-fabric parts. However, avoid substances that contain bleach since it can damage the wooden parts of the furniture. If there are stains, use water-free or water-based solvents to remove them. If there’s mold, hire professional cleaning services like Steamy Concepts.

How do I stop my furniture from staining?

Take care of your furniture by vacuuming it at least once per week and use fabric protector sprays or slipcovers. Likewise, you can acquire stain-resistant furniture made of synthetic fibers or wool.

Can you make fabric stain-resistant?

Yes, you can. You can buy a new fabric that’s made of stain-resistant materials, like rayon, polyester, acrylic, olefin, or nylon. In a similar manner, you can use fabric protector sprays. However, you would need to reapply them every six months.

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