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How to Clean and Remove Stains from a Fabric Sofa at Home

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Antonio Wedral
How to Clean and Remove Stains from a Fabric Sofa at Home

Image credit: @aimeehome_

It’s Friday night, you have friends gathered in your home for an indulgent night of wine, cheese and gossip. Conversation is flowing, guests are laughing, music is playing and spirits are high...along with that wine glass! Before you know it, wine sloshes in the glass, arcs up and over the brim and splashes on your gorgeous cream linen fabric sofa. The party comes to a screeching halt as everyone assesses the damage!

Or, maybe it’s your toddler with notoriously sticky, chocolatey fingers ‘accidentally’ smearing it all over your luxurious velvet sofa. Whether it’s wine, chocolate, ink or mud, seeing your sofa stained can make your heart sink. But, worry not! As with Swyft, we’ve ensured that our furniture is both kid-friendly and pet-friendly. While we can’t prevent the stains from happening in the first place, we instead use fabrics that are both stain-resistant and long-lasting.

Keep reading to find out the best ways to clean velvet, leather and linen sofas and how to maintain their cleanliness even with pets around. We’ll also give you our top stain removing tips so you’ll never have to panic about pesky stains again!

Regular Sofa Cleaning and Maintenance

Swyft sofas are durable, practical, convenient, comfortable and simply a pleasure to look at in any room. After studying the best fabrics on the market, we came to the conclusion that FibreGuard fabrics are the way to go! FibreGuard fabrics are ready for anything your pets, children and friends can throw at home and are classed as ‘life-friendly’. Using industry-leading stain-free technology, rather than coating our linen and velvet fabrics with a stain repellent, each one of the threads in our fabric is stain resistant.

Our mission has been to make your life as easy as possible, which includes limiting the amount of time you need to spend with cleaning products when it comes to the look and longevity of your couch. So, whether you’re actively trying to get rid of some dirt or just want to give your sofa a bit of a refresh, here are four easy steps to cleaning your fabric Swyft sofa at home:

1. Remain calm

The last thing you want to do when you see your dog jump up on the sofa covered in mud is panic. Especially when cleaning one of our sofas is so easy to do! For stains like mud, ketchup, lipstick or silly putty, you’ll need to grab a teaspoon and first remove any stain residue with the edge of the spoon.

For other stains, like pen or coffee, you won’t need to do this. Simply dampen the fabric and begin the blotting process.

2. Water and Blot

Using a white paper towel, apply water to the stain and blot. Do NOT use circular motions as this will only rip your paper towel and drive the fibres from it into your fabric. It could also potentially make the stain worse.

Blotting is time-consuming but highly effective so repeat the process, gently dabbing at the stain until you can’t see it on the paper towel anymore.

3. Water and Circles

Once the blotting is complete now is the time for using the circular motions trick. Apply more water to the stained area and use a microfibre cloth to rub the sofa with gentle movement.

For extra stubborn stains, you can use a white bar of soap to help. Repeat this process until the stain is completely removed.

4. Air dry

Lastly, leave the sofa to air dry. This is really important. You don’t want to use a hairdryer or apply heat to the stain in any way as this could embed the stain into the fibres.

How to Clean Sofa Arms and Cushions

The good news is, to clean the arms of a Swyft sofa the above steps can be applied in the same way. All you need is water, a bit of elbow grease and a bar of white soap if the stain or general dirt is extra stubborn.

Daily Sofa Maintenance

To maintain your sofa and keep it looking fresh and new for as long as possible there are a few things you must do on either a daily or weekly basis. These include:

  • Plumping cushions
  • Hoovering
  • Remove bobbles
  • Brush fabric sofa cushions to fluff the fibres back up
  • Tackling stains immediately

How to Remove Stains from Fabric Sofas

From ballpoint pens, coffee, mud, red wine and ketchup; common household stains are inevitable. Thankfully with Swyft sofas they can be easily removed, allowing you to keep your furniture fabrics looking fresh year after year.

Stains can be removed from FibreGuard fabrics using mostly water, stubborn stains may require a small amount of household soap.

Wine stains

When red wine spills on your white or cream coloured sofa, it can feel like the end of the world. But, it’s not impossible to remove! First gentry blot as much of the stain as you can with a paper towel and water. Then, mix one tablespoon of liquid hand soap with water and start to sponge the stain, repeat this until the stain has reduced. You’ll then need to blot with an absorbent cloth until all the liquid has been absorbed and sponge once more with cold water. To finish off simply leave the area to air dry and the wine stain should be completely gone!

sofa wine stain

But, if it’s being really stubborn you can use white vinegar and baking soda to tackle it. Pour the baking soda over the stain and coat it with the vinegar, wait a few minutes for the solution to sink it, it will bubble quite a bit which just means it’s working. Then rinse it off with a damp cloth and repeat the process if needed until the stain is gone.

Ink stains

For ink stains, the same method applies, blot at the stain with a white paper towel and some water until most of the stain has been removed. Then use a bit of liquid soap and blot again, repeating this process until the stain has disappeared entirely and leave the spot to air dry.

Combining a tablespoon of liquid soap with a tablespoon of vinegar will also help to lift the stain if you hadn’t noticed right away and it’s really embedded into the fabric.

Lipstick stains

Whether you’ve forgotten your lipstick was in your pocket or you were being a bit of a daredevil and applying makeup on the sofa, removing a lipstick stain is simple! First, you’ll want to use the back of a teaspoon to remove an excess lipstick so you don’t accidentally rub it into the fibres more. Take a damp cloth and start blotting at the stain immediately, you should see it start to lift after a little while so patience is key. Once the blotting is complete you can then apply a bit more water and start rubbing the stain in gentle, circular motions. Add a bit of soap if the stain is still lingering and then blot again and leave it to dry.

Using a mixture of baking powder and vinegar will also do the trick on lipstick stains. You’ll need to leave the solution to bubble and work its magic before blotting and rinsing the area with warm water.

How to Keep Your Sofa Clean with Pets

If you have pets then you’ll no doubt understand the struggle of trying to keep your sofa as clean as possible. Hair will shed, there’ll probably be the odd scratch here and there and odours will linger. But, there are a few things you can do to help eliminate these issues and keep your sofa fresh!

  • Regularly clean your cushions and scatter pillows, either by hand or in the washing machine if they have removable covers.
  • Hoover daily to pick up any pet hairs.
  • Wipe the sofa with a specially formulated pet odour remover.
  • Have a pet bed and scratching posts nearby and encourage your pets to use those instead.
  • Keep plenty of toys nearby to keep your pets busy and occupied.
  • Make sure your pet’s nails are maintained for less scratches.

How to Clean a Velvet Sofa

If you have a luxurious velvet sofa follow these tips on how to properly clean and care for it:

How to Clean a Linen Sofa

For comfortable and modern linen sofas here are our top tips on how to clean and remove any accidental stains:

How to Clean a Leather Sofa

To clean a leather sofa first you’ll need to wipe or hoover away any dust or crumbs. Then you’ll want to take a mild PH-balanced soap, either in bar or liquid form, or you can buy a specialist leather cleaner but be careful it doesn’t darken or harden the leather. Dip a microfibre cloth into the water and soap mixture and swipe it across the surface. Continue rinsing the cloth in the cleaning solution whenever you need to. Once you’ve finished, use another, dry cloth to buff and dry the sofa off.

Make sure to thoroughly dry the sofa so there’s no risk of mould or mildew building up. You can then apply a leather conditioner to restore moisture and suppleness although this is entirely optional and should only be done once or twice a year.

How to Steam Clean Your Sofa

Steam cleaning your fabric sofa is the deepest way of getting into the fibres of the fabric and clean it completely. Before you start to steam your sofa you should vacuum methodically and thoroughly.

The most important thing to do before steaming your sofa is to check whether your sofa can be steamed without damaging the fabric. The symbols in the glossary below will help you to identify the care instructions. Even after checking the label, it can be pertinent to test the steamer on a small, out of the way section of your sofa to make sure there will be no permanent damage to the furniture itself. The care label should also inform you of what settings to put your steamer on to get the perfect sofa.

After steaming, it is important to have lots of ventilation and heat until the sofa is totally dry to avoid unwanted smells entering the fabric.

Mistakes to Avoid When Cleaning Your Sofa at Home

When taking on your own furniture cleaning, it can be most important to know what exactly to avoid. The biggest worry when cleaning your fabric sofa at home is doing permanent damage to an expensive and focal piece of furniture. That being said, here are five top things to avoid when cleaning sofa stains:

  1. Read the instructions

Finding the label and reading it carefully is a key part of the at-home sofa cleaning process. But you should also read the instructions on your cleaning products too (if you’re using box products). The instructions will tell you how to clean your sofa best, how to use the product so that it doesn’t damage your furniture and how often you can use the cleaning product on your sofa.

  1. Make sure you understand the labels

So, you’ve found your care label and you’re ready to start cleaning - but what does it all mean?! Here’s a quick guide to your sofa’s care label:

W – This means that water can be used in cleaning 

WS – A dry cleaning detergent or mild detergent and steam vacuum can be used 

X – No water, vacuum only 

S – Clean with dry cleaner detergent

  1. Start weak and increase strength of cleaning products gradually 

Just like cooking, with cleaning a fabric sofa it’s easier to add than it is to take away. So if you’re using cleaning chemicals or just baking soda, go easy on the cleaning products at first and wait for your sofa to dry completely before starting to add more. 

  1. Don’t leave cleaning products for hours

As with not using too much product when cleaning, it’s also important to not leave cleaning products and especially chemicals on your sofa for long periods of time. Any cleaning product can lead to its own staining or even bleaching of the fabric - there’s nothing worse than overcorrecting!

  1. Scrub too hard

Mostly a hard scrub is never a bad thing, but there’s some people who don’t know their own strength. Scrubbing too hard or too excessively can erode the fabric of your sofa and cause more, lasting damage to your furniture.

Learn all there is you need to know about buying a fabric sofa in our complete guide.

Browse our velvet sofas and linen sofas to find the perfect piece for your space and personal style.

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