While microfiber is essentially stain-resistant and water-repellent, it can still stain, and it needs to be cared for properly. It has a few special cleaning requirements, but don't worry—we're here to break down the pro cleaning tips for you.
How to Clean a Microfiber Couch
Microfiber sofas need special attention because of their unique nature. Unlike microfiber towels, which are usually made from a blend with a few percent synthetic fibers added in, microfiber upholstery fabrics are typically made from 100% microfibers with no blended fibers.
Marketed as "easy-care," microfiber fabrics are designed to be washed less often than other types of upholstery fabric. However, because microfiber furniture is not suitable for dry cleaning, you'll want to develop a DIY cleaning routine to keep yours beautiful.
Keep reading to learn how to clean your coach using cleaning products you likely already have at home.
Check the Cleaning Code
Before you clean any textile, read the manufacturer's instructions and cleaning codes. This step lets you know what cleaning solutions will work well for the microfiber upholstery.
“99% of the time, a solvent-based cleaner is going to be your best option for removing stains from a microfiber couch,” explains Guy Peters, Founder and Owner of Mop Stars Cleaning Service.
“While a solvent-based cleaner will be the best option for the majority of microfiber couches,” continues Peters, “there can still be some variations between them. That’s why it’s important to check the fabric care guide before diving in. You can usually find the tag underneath the cushions.”
Once you’ve found the cleaning or care tag, look for the code to find out what’s best for your microfiber couch. Peters broke it down below to help:
- Code W: If there's a W present, then water-based cleaners are suggested. This would be something like soapy water,” says Peters.
- Code S: “If there's an S, then the manufacturer recommends solvent-based cleaner like rubbing alcohol.”
- Code W-S: Code W indicates water-based cleaners, and code S indicates solvent-based, so you can guess what W-S means—either option will work. This code might also appear on tags as WS, S-W, or SW.
- Code X: “Finally, there’s one other option as indicated by an X, you’ll be unlikely to find it on most microfiber couches, but it means that no cleaner of any kind is recommended.”
If you're uncertain about the cleaning code or the tag has been removed, check your couch manufacturer's website for specific instructions on the best way to clean your furniture. According to Peters, “once you’ve figured out what cleaning solution will work best for your couch, the cleaning is pretty straightforward.”
How to Remove Stains from a Microfiber Couch
If you have a microfiber couch and find that it's always looking dingy or stained, you need a good stain removal routine that doesn't involve stripping down each part of your sofa and throwing the upholstery in the washing machine.
We asked Peters of Mop Stars Cleaning Service gets the job done, and here are his four steps to clean microfiber:
“Microfiber is pretty sensitive, so I usually suggest keeping it simple by using plain rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) to get the stain out,” says Peters. We’ve highlighted the process that Peters detailed below, step-by-step:
- "Use a spray bottle and spray the couch directly, but if you don't have one, then blot a towel with your cleaning solution."
- “Firmly dab the area with small circles. Repeat until the stain is gone and reapply cleaning solution as needed.”
- “Give it some time to dry.”
- “Brush the area with a fabric brush or even your hand. The cleaning process can sometimes leave the area a little stiff, so you'll want to loosen up the spot once everything is dry.”
Remember, if your couch isn't marked with an 'S' or some variation of 'W-S,' you shouldn't be using a solvent-based cleaner like rubbing alcohol.
"If the tag says that you should use water-based cleaners, then you can opt for dishwashing liquid," notes Dean Davies, professional couch and upholstery cleaner at Fantastic Cleaners. “Add a good amount of it to a bowl filled with warm water and mix it well to make suds. Then dip a clean towel into the suds and start rubbing the couch gently by working into sections.”
Another cleaning pro, Rex McClure, founder of Super Keen Services, also advises you to use a white cloth for tackling stains. “I strongly advise not to use a colored cloth to avoid color mix-up," he adds. You should also ensure you always use a clean cloth for wiping down your sofa.
“If you have such heavy stains, be careful not to use strong chemicals that can damage the couch."
“If you have such heavy stains, be careful not to use strong chemicals that can damage the couch,” continues McClure. “I advise you to vacuum it first and use dish soaps as detergents to combat the stains. Aside from being careful not to use damaging chemicals, make it look good by keeping it away from too much dirt and chemicals and dusting it regularly.”
“Baking soda is one of the easiest ways to deep clean your couch,” says Rocky Vuong, Founder of Calibre Cleaning. “Begin by sprinkling baking soda over the entire couch [helping you to reach all stains, including those an in inconspicuous spot]. Soda bicarbonate helps remove unpleasant odors and loosen stubborn grime trapped between the fabric fibers.”
“You can also use a simple diluted baking soda solution for tough stains. Mix equal parts baking soda and water,” continues Vuong. “Apply lightly on to affected areas. Leave to soak for 15 minutes. When dried, vacuum with a brush attachment.”
“Use a clean towel to pat dry the couch, then leave to air-dry overnight. Tomorrow morning, you will wake up to a clean and fresh-smelling couch!”
Finally, if you can’t get a stain out on your own using one of these methods, we suggest calling in the upholstery cleaning pros.
Note: You should always address all stains immediately for the best results.
How to Tackle Tough Food or Grease Stains
Food and microfiber don't mix well. And if you get grease or food stains on your microfiber couch, they may be more difficult to remove than typical spills or spots. The faster you react to greasy microfiber stains, the better your chances are of removing them. Blotting microfiber immediately also helps prevent microfibers from absorbing as much of the stain.
According to Peters, “rubbing alcohol will do a great job breaking up oil stains from food or grease. Make sure to focus on a circular motion (dabbing, not wiping) and give the rubbing alcohol at least a minute to break up the oil. Repeat as needed until the stain is gone, but you may need to rinse with water to remove the last bits of oil.”
Try using the warm water cleaning method outlined by Dean Davies in the previous section to remove tough stains on couches marked with a 'W.' "If your couch is marked W, then a soapy mixture of dawn or other detergent-based dish soap works well," advises Peters.
How Often Should You Clean a Microfiber Couch?
"Microfiber is pretty resilient, which means you can get away with less frequent cleaning compared to other fabrics," explains Guy Peters. "If your household is mostly quiet without pets or kids, then twice a year should be plenty. But if you've got a more active household, then consider quarterly cleaning to keep your couch looking its best year-round."
Other experts agree, with recommendations ranging between 2 and 5 times per year for cleaning microfiber depending on your household. However, if your space is busy and lived-in, and you don't have time to clean your couch every few months, aim for a bare minimum of twice a year to keep your couch looking at its best
How to Protect a Microfiber Couch from Wear and Stains
Proactive care is always better than reactive cleaning, especially when it comes to microfiber couches. Most cleaning experts recommend taking time to protect your furniture and upholstery against wear and stains first. Then, if you clean regularly, it'll be easier to prevent lasting damage.
"I highly recommend the application of Scotchgard fabric protector which will protect your couch from common household stains, such as wine, food, coffee, ink, etc.," explains Davies.
“Most folks know that regular vacuuming will keep a microfiber couch looking good [use at upholstery attachment, if possible], but I'm actually a big fan of using a simple fabric brush,” adds Peters. “I suggest stashing a small fabric brush under your couch and just make it a habit of brushing every few weeks. The brush will always be there when you need it, and it's easy to do while you watch your favorite show!”
Additionally, don’t forget to protect your couch from mistakes and unexpected reactions! "As with all types of cleaning solutions (even natural compounds), always spot test an area first before you begin," adds Vuong. As an extra precaution, you could even invest in some cushion covers to guard against stains.
Why Trust Living Cozy?
At Living Cozy, we work closely with industry professionals and experts to create comprehensive guides to help you keep your home looking its best. This article was written by Shelby Golding, a writer/editor with over a decade of experience in the home industry and a college education in interior design. We also spoke with a some cleaning experts including:
- Rex McClure, founder of Super Kleen Services with over 30 years experience in the cleaning industry.
- Dean Davies, professional couch and upholstery cleaner at Fantastic Cleaners.
- Rocky Vuong, director of Calibre Cleaning.
- Guy Peters, owner of Mop Stars Cleaning Service in Denver, Colorado.