2 Expert-Approved Ways to Clean a Microfiber Couch

published Jan 3, 2023
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Microfiber couches are a popular sofa choice because their synthetic material is stain resistant and easy to clean. That means they can hold their own against everything from takeout pizza dinners to pet cuddles and sticky kid fingers — and if a mess does take place, it can be relatively easy to clean. 

But how exactly do you clean a microfiber couch? While they don’t stain as easily as other fabrics, they are susceptible to watermarks. You want to make sure you don’t accidentally create a stain through routine maintenance cleaning, so to avoid that, here are the methods experts swear by.

How Often to Clean a Microfiber Couch

To keep up with maintenance, spot treat stains immediately so they don’t settle into the fibers, and vacuum the cushions and interior weekly. To keep smells and dirt at bay, deep clean your microfiber couch once or twice a year. “If you’re single and have no kids, pets, or a lot of traffic, clean your couch at least once a year to not void the 12 month Scotch Guard protection,” says Irvin Ricardo Alexander, owner of Los Angeles-based ACC Alex Carpet Cleaning. “But if you’re a couple with a dog or you have kids, I say at least twice a year.”

Before choosing your desired cleaning method, locate your couch’s manufacture tag to see what the fabric can and can’t handle. According to Home Depot, your couch is likely to be one of these codes:

  • Code X: The couch can only be vacuumed. 
  • Code S: You need to use a water-free, solvent-based cleaning agent or a dry cleaner.
  • Code W: You have free rein and can use water-based solutions to clean your couch.

Method 1: Rubbing Alcohol

If you’re trying to tackle stubborn or lingering stains on your couch, furniture brand Joybird recommends treating it with rubbing alcohol. This is great for S-tag couches, and you can use this method to clean the entire sofa or spot-treat stains. 

What you’ll need:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Bristle brush
  • Washcloth
  • Spray bottle

How to clean it:

  1. First, pour your rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle so you can evenly distribute it over the stain without risking watermarks. You want to coat the stain lightly and not soak it. Make sure to test it on a small spot on the back of a couch first to see how it interacts with your particular fabric.
  2. Use a clean washcloth to rub the stain in gentle circular motions until the spot disappears. Irvin stresses not to agitate the fibers while doing so, or you can damage the fabric. “If you add too much alcohol or create too much agitation, it tends to leave a yellow ring once dried,” he warns. This will be especially noticeable on a light-colored couch.
  3. If you want to be extra careful and avoid creating a yellow watermark, Irvin recommends using a water extractor afterward. “In order for you to be able to extract ALL residue, you will need a water extractor portable machine. It’s more suction, more labor, less water, and much less agitation.”
  4. After it air dries, if you notice a texture change in the area where the stain was, use a bristle brush to fluff up the fibers to match the rest of the fabric.
Credit: Nadiia Borodai/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Method 2: Soap and Water

If your microfiber couch has a W-tag, you can use soap and water as your cleaning agent. Your cushions will smell refreshed and odor-free in 10 minutes flat.

What you’ll need:

  • Spray bottle
  • Water
  • Mild, colorless dish soap, such as Castille soap
  • Washcloth
  • Pot lid (optional)

How to clean it:

  1. Home Depot recommends filling your spray bottle with warm water and adding 1 tablespoon of clear dish soap to create your water-based cleaning agent. A clear liquid soap is safest, so it doesn’t accidentally stain your fabric.
  2. Work in small sections by lightly spraying half of a cushion and working your clean washcloth in circles to lift dirt and odors. You don’t want to soak the cushion with the spray, but lightly mist it, avoiding creating watermarks.
  3. To make the cleaning process go faster, you can wrap your washcloth around a pot lid, creating a large, makeshift scrub brush. Hold the lid by the handle, and run it across the cushion to lift dirt embedded in the fibers.
  4. Blot with a dry cloth before moving onto the next half of the cushion, removing excess moisture.
  5. To remove any soap residue, gently dampen a clean cloth once your couch is fully clean (you don’t want it to be soaked but lightly damp) and run it across all of the cushions once more. Allow it to air dry before sitting.
  6. Irvin also stresses that this process would be much more effective if finished with the help of a water-extracting machine. That way, you will minimize the risk of possible water stains and ensure all soap residue is cleared from the fibers.

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