Homemade Couch Stain Remover: Easy-to-Make DIY Cleaner

Keeping your upholstered furniture and fabric sofa clean and stain-free is essential for maintaining a beautiful and welcoming home. But with so many choices when it comes to the right cleaning product, it can be hard to know which ones are safe and effective. 

Before and after of a microfiber couch after cleaning with a DIY couch stain remover

The good news is you can use a DIY upholstery cleaner made with simple ingredients that can get rid of tough stains and grime without the use of harsh chemicals. In this blog post, I'll explore how to clean upholstery and couch stains naturally, starting with pre-cleaning steps and homemade cleaning solutions, and ending with specific tips for different upholstery materials and stain removal techniques.

*This post may contain affiliate links and I’ll earn a commission if you shop through them. You can read my full disclosure here.

Pre-Cleaning Steps - Identify the Type of Fabric 

The first thing to do is to identify the type of fabric you want to clean by looking for the upholstery cleaning code. The care instructions can usually be found under the seat cushions (assuming these can be removed) on the base of the furniture. If you can't find the cleaning tag in this area, check any tags that can be found on the furniture. 

I'm sharing the best way I have found to clean a microfiber sofa with a homemade upholstery cleaner in this post but it's always a good idea to find out what you're dealing with first before attempting to use a water-based cleaner such as the one I will be detailing for you. 

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Some Common Cleaning Codes

  • “W”—Code W stands for ‘Water based cleaner’. These fabrics are the easiest to clean but this code does not mean that they can be cleaned in a washing machine. This code means that you can spot clean your fabric with a water-based shampoo or foam upholstery cleaner. You can use a soft bristled scrub brush to agitate the cleaner or even an upholstery attachment or brush attachment on a carpet cleaner. Be careful to avoid over-wetting the stain which can leave unsightly water stains behind. 
  • “S”—Fabrics with a Code S are dry clean only. You can spot treat stains with a water-free solvent or dry-cleaning product. These cleaners, however, are not natural and should be used with EXTREME caution and can contain chemicals which are known to be highly toxic.
  • “W/S”—A W/S code means that a combination of water-based cleaners and a dry cleaning solvent-based cleaner may be used. These fabrics can be spot cleaned but this is definitely a case where performing a spot test on an inconspicuous area  is especially important. 
  • “X”—If your fabric has a Code X, they can only be cleaned by vacuuming or light brushing. A Code X means the fabric is not cleanable with water or solvent cleaners.

Supplies:

Yellow metal bucket with two white microfiber cleaning cloths and a large jug of white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. liquid dish soap (Dawn)
  • 4 tbsp. white vinegar
  • 2 cups of warm water 

Cleaning Instructions

The first step is to use a vacuum cleaner to vacuum the furniture thoroughly to remove any surface dust, crumbs, etc., before moving on to the actual cleaning process. 

large jug of white vinegar next to a yellow metal bucket
warm water being measured and poured into a yellow metal bucket to make homemade microfiber couch cleaner
sudsy mixture of homemade upholstery cleaner including water, vinegar, and Dawn dishwashing liquid

Mix the dishwashing liquid, white vinegar and warm water in a bucket or small container and test the cleaning solution on a small area first before undertaking cleaning or a larger more visible area. 

overhead view of a dirty microfiber couch being cleaned with couch stain remover DIY
view of dirty white microfiber cloth after cleaning a microfiber sofa with a homemade cleaning solution

Dunk a clean rag or white cloth (I like to use microfiber cloths for this) into the soap suds of the homemade cleaner solution.

Start rubbing the cloth containing the homemade solution gently in a circular motion on the microfiber fabric. You may need to use one hand to gently stretch the fabric so that you can clean the stained area thoroughly. 

Before moving on to another area, rinse the cloth well in clean water and repeat the above process to clean the entire couch if desired. 

Allow the microfiber furniture to air dry. 

Before

After

overhead view of dirty microfiber couch before being cleaned
overhead view of clean microfiber couch after being cleaned
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Baking Soda

For any areas that don't come clean the first time, make a paste with fresh water and baking soda and rub the area gently with a dry microfiber cloth or, for tougher stains, you can use a soft-bristled brush. Rinse the cloth and rub the area one more time gently with the damp cloth to remove as much of the baking soda as possible. Once the upholstery has dried you may be left with a powder residue that can be removed with a clean dry cloth or a dry brush. 

What is the Microfiber Feels Stiff After Cleaning

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Microfiber can feel a bit tough and hard after being cleaned. This is usually due to the fibers getting tangles (who knew?). An easy way to fix this is by brushing the fabric with a soft scrub brush, a fine-tooth comb or the scrubby rough side of a clean, dry, and never used sponge. 

Fabric Protector 

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After your furniture is clean and dry you can spray it with fabric protector to minimize the need to clean in the future. 

Top Tip:

I like to turn on my ceiling fans to quicken it a bit. Doing it on a warm day with the windows open also help to speed up the drying process. 

How to Clean Specific Upholstery Fabric Materials

  • Leather upholstery cleaning tips - it is imperative that leather be cleaned with pure soap products (NO DETERGENTS). Leather also benefits from occasional applications of leather conditioner which will restore moisture and sheen. 
  • Microfiber upholstery cleaning tips - see above 
  • Vinyl upholstery cleaning tips - clean with a paste of baking soda and water. Rub on generously, allow to dry, and then wipe off with a clean cloth. Spots can be cleaned by wiping with a cloth dipped in straight vinegar (no dilution). Ink stains can be removed by rubbing a little bit of olive oil on a dry cloth or paper towel. 

Specific Stain Removal Techniques

  • How to remove grease stains - a great option is to cover the spot as soon as possible with cornstarch. Wait until as much grease as possible has been absorbed and then vacuum using an upholstery attachment. You can also use equal parts baking soda and table salt sprinkled on to the mixture. Rub the affected area gently, wait a few hours, and vacuum
  • How to remove oil stains - this dry upholstery cleaner works wonders! Grind up approximately a cup of cat little into a powder and sprinkle it over the stain. Wait until the oil is absorbed and vacuum as above. 

While DIY methods are great for regular maintenance, sometimes a professional touch is necessary, especially for stubborn stains or delicate fabrics. For those in the Brisbane area, consider brisbane Upholstery Cleaning for expert care and results.

Alternative Methods

Keep a package of baby wipes handy and the next time there's a spill, dab it up with a clean cloth then wipe gently with a baby wipe. Treating stains before they have time to set is a good idea and will help to keep your home looking neat and tidy! 

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