How to Clean a Microfiber Couch

Modern apartment with grey microfiber couch

 Jacek Kadaj/ Moment/ Getty Images

Whether you're shopping for a new couch or looking at upholstery to recover one you have at home, you're going to see lots of microfiber. The fabric has gained in popularity due to its resemblance to the touch and feel of suede leather, extensive choice in colors, durability, and reasonable price compared to other fabrics.

In actuality, suede and microfiber are worlds apart. Suede is a natural fabric created from animal hide. Microfiber is a man-made fabric created from extremely thin polyester and nylon fibers that are woven and cut to create the soft, plush feel. The fibers are tightly woven or knit so they are more resistant to dust, dirt, and stains penetrating the surface.

Removing spills is easier than on other fabrics because the tight weave and fibers cause liquids to bead on the surface. However, eventually, the stains will sink in and cleaning can be a challenge because microfiber is prone to watermarks.

How Often to Clean a Microfiber Couch

Regular maintenance will help keep a microfiber couch looking its best and smelling fresh. The couch should be vacuumed weekly to remove surface dust and dirt before it is ground into the fibers. This is particularly critical if pets have access to the upholstery. Spills and stains should be treated as quickly as possible for the easiest removal.

The couch should be thoroughly cleaned at least seasonally or monthly if it receives heavy use from pets and kids.

What You Need

Supplies

  • Liquid dishwashing soap
  • Water
  • Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol
  • Baking soda (optional)
  • Dry cleaning solvent (optional)
  • Upholstery or carpet cleaner (optional)

Tools

  • Vacuum with crevice and upholstery tools
  • Whisk
  • Spray bottle
  • Soft-bristled brush or sponge
  • Two buckets or large bowls
  • Microfiber cleaning cloth
  • Upholstery brush (optional)

Tip

Since 1969, furniture manufacturers in the United States are required to add a tag to help you determine the best and safest way to clean the upholstery and protect cushion fillings. Look underneath the couch or under the cushions to make sure you are following the correct cleaning guidelines.

  • Code W: The fabric can be cleaned with water-based cleaning solvents.
  • Code S: The fabric requires the use a dry cleaning or water-free solvent to remove stains and soils. The use of these chemicals require a well-ventilated room and no open flames like fireplaces or candles.
  • Code W-S: The fabric can be cleaned with either water-based or solvent-based products.
  • Code X: When you see the "X" avoid any type of cleaning agent. These fabrics should only be cleaned by vacuuming or by a professional. Any type of home cleaning product can cause staining and shrinking.

How to Clean a Microfiber Couch with Soap Suds and Water

If your couch has a W or W-S tag, it can be safely cleaned with soap suds and water.

  1. Vacuum the Couch

    Always begin your cleaning session by vacuuming every surface of the upholstery (don't forget the underside of cushions). Pay particular attention to crevices and stitched seams that can collect soil.

  2. Mix the Cleaning Solution

    Place four cups of warm water in a bucket or large bowl. Add one-fourth cup liquid dishwashing soap. Use a whisk to create lots of soapy suds. Fill a second bucket with plain water.

  3. Dip and Scrub With Soap Suds

    Carefully dip the scrubbing brush or sponge in just the soap suds (not the water). Starting at the top of a cushion or the couch back or arms, evenly spread the suds and scrub well. Starting at the top will prevent dirty suds from dripping onto already cleaned areas. Rinse the brush or sponge frequently in clean water and make sure it is as dry as possible as you repeat the steps with fresh soap suds.

  4. Rinse and Fluff

Once an area has been cleaned, slightly dampen a microfiber cleaning cloth with plain water and wipe down the area. Allow the fabric to air-dry completely. Use a vacuum or upholstery brush to fluff any matted fibers.

How to Clean a Microfiber Couch With Rubbing Alcohol

If the care tag shows an "S," it must be cleaned with a solvent like rubbing alcohol, dry cleaning solvent, or a solvent-based upholstery or carpet cleaner.

  1. Vacuum First

    Before using your solvent, carefully vacuum every fabric surface on the couch.

  2. Apply the Cleaning Solution

    Place the rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle and lightly spritz the fabric starting at the top of a cushion or section. If using a commercial product, follow the label directions.

  3. Scrub Away Soil

    While the fabric is damp with the rubbing alcohol, use a sponge or soft-bristled brush to remove soil. Rinse the sponge in plain water to remove soil and wring to remove as much moisture as possible before continuing to clean.

  4. Dry and Fluff

Allow the upholstery to air-dry and then use a vacuum or upholstery brush to lift any matted fibers.

How to Tackle Tough Stains and Odors

Grease

Sprinkle grease stains with cornstarch and work it in with an old toothbrush. Allow it to sit for at least one hour and vacuum away. Repeat if needed. The cornstarch will absorb the oil. Spot clean the area with either the soap suds or rubbing alcohol method.

Chewing Gum

Place ice cubes in a sealed plastic bag and put on top of the chewing gum so it will harden. Use a dull knife or your fingernail to break away the hardened gum. Work slowly and refreeze the gum as needed. Remove any remaining stain with either the soap suds or rubbing alcohol method.

Odors

Before bedtime, sprinkle the entire couch with plain baking soda. Use a soft-bristled brush to work it in lightly. The next day, vacuum away the baking soda and the odors.