How to Clean a Microfiber Couch (and How NOT to Clean One)

Has your microfiber couch seen better days? In this guide, we offer specific advice for general cleaning, stain removal, and odor remediation. You’ll get practical, effective cleaning solutions for the most common cleaning challenges faced by couch owners. We also cover popular bad ideas and explain why you should skip them, and recommend ways to protect your microfiber couch from future dirt, stains, and odors.

Selecting microfiber as the material for your couch or sectional is a smart choice. Microfiber is resilient, relatively inexpensive, and looks great. But despite its amazing liquid-repelling properties, life happens, and your sofa will get dirty over time. Use this guide to protect your microfiber furniture investment and get professional cleaning results.

Microfiber Cleaning Tips for the Most Common Cases

Before applying any cleaning solution to your microfiber couch, it’s important to remove any loose dirt. If you have a vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment, take the time to vacuum every inch of your couch to remove particles of dirt or bits of food. Don’t feel like hauling the vacuum cleaner up or down stairs? Brush the couch with a stiff brush to remove any loose debris.

You’re now ready to find the best cleaning solution for your specific type of microfiber couch.

Microfiber is a man-made material that varies based on processing methods. The way you clean your couch depends on its specific type of microfiber. Somewhere on your couch, you’ll find a tag indicating specific cleaning requirements. The tag may have a “W”, “S”, “X”, or “S-W” on it. Here’s how to decode the message.

“W” clean only with a water-based cleanser.

“S” clean only with a solvent-based cleanser.

“X” dry clean only.

“S-W” clean with a solvent- or water-based cleanser.

Can’t find the tag? A solvent-based cleanser will likely work on your couch, but first perform a spot test on an inconspicuous area to make sure.

After understanding the appropriate microfiber cleansers, you’ll want to tailor your cleaning strategy to tackle some of these common dirty offenders.

When Man's Best Friend Tests Your Patience

Pet accidents happen. Leaving pet urine stains on your microfiber couch is both unhygienic and offensive to anyone who comes to visit.

If possible, remove the microfiber covers from your seat cushions. If your couch’s care tag says “W” or “S-W”, immediately throw the covers into your washing machine at home for a quick, effective cleaning. While the covers are in the washing machine, examine your seat cushions. Are they made of a good-quality, dense foam that can be wiped cleaned with a disinfectant? If not, you’ll just be putting clean microfiber covers back on a dirty couch.

At FoamOrder, you can get replacement cushions for your sofa that are made of natural latex rubber. Upgrading your cushions with these high-quality foam replacements ensures that you’re ready for whatever accidents happen on your couch.

After your microfiber covers are finished washing, you’ll want to let them air dry to make sure they don’t shrink in the dryer.

If you can’t remove your microfiber seat covers, or if the accident happened on another part of the couch, you can steam clean your sofa to help remove urine stains and kill germs.

Here are some other ways to effectively spot clean pet urine stains on your microfiber couch.

Standard Cleaning Materials Needed

If your microfiber couch’s care tag says “W” or “S-W”, a vinegar and water compound is an alternative option for cleaning pet urine stains.

Here’s what you’ll need.

Vacuum with upholstery attachment

Large mat

Spray bottle

Light-colored cloth

Paper towels

White vinegar

Distilled water

Baking soda

If your microfiber couch’s care tag reads “S”, use a solvent-based cleanser to remove pet urine from your furniture. Clean your couch with an item you already have in your pantry. The chemical properties in salt help to dry up fresh urine stains and clean the area without damaging your couch’s material.

Have these items on hand for this cleaning solution.

Vacuum with upholstery attachment

Paper towels

Salt

Microfiber Cleaning Methods

When cleaning pet urine stains from your microfiber couch with a vinegar and water solution, protect your floors by laying down a large mat under the area. Prepare to clean by mixing vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Blot the fresh urine stain with a paper towel.

Saturate the area with your vinegar and water solution. Gently rub the vinegar and water solution into the fabric. Let it dry. When it’s completely dry, pour a generous amount of baking soda and allow it to sit for 24 hours. The next day, vacuum up the baking soda using your upholstery attachment. While the baking soda won’t do anything for the urine stain, it will help to absorb leftover odors not neutralized by the vinegar.

If you need to clean a pet urine stain from your microfiber couch without a water-based cleanser, try salt. First, blot the fresh stain with a paper towel. Pour a generous amount of salt on the urine stain and let it dry. After the salt completely dries up the urine stain, use your upholstery attachment to vacuum the area.

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Is There an Option for This Dreaded Mess?

Microfiber repels water but absorbs grease. This can be a problem if your couch regularly doubles as a dinette set for family meal times. If your microfiber couch has suffered from one too many fried food mishaps, it’s time to refresh it with targeted cleaning.

Standard Cleaning Materials Needed

If your microfiber couch’s care tag recommends water-soluble cleaning solutions, use a commercial or homemade enzyme cleaner to remove the grease stains. You’ll need an enzyme cleaner, a large mat, a light-colored cloth, and a white, soft-bristled brush for this chore.

If the care tag recommends a solvent-based cleaner, use 90% isopropyl alcohol. Some other materials you’ll need to complete the task include a large protective mat, a spray bottle, light-colored cloths, and a white, soft-bristled brush.

Microfiber Cleaning Methods

Enzymatic cleaners are specially formulated to lift stubborn stains from microfiber upholstery, and you can buy them at most big-box retailers or hardware stores. The enzymes in these products break down organic matter, and you can also get plant-based versions that won’t cause allergic reactions.

Before cleaning with a water-based enzyme cleaner, lay down your large mat to protect your hard floors or carpeting.

To get the best results, always follow the manufacturer’s directions. This usually involves spraying the enzyme cleaner on the stains and letting the product sit for about 15 minutes. You’ll want to spray more product on the stain and blot with a light-colored cloth to remove the grease spot. Once the area is completely dry, brush the spot with your white, soft-bristled brush to fluff the couch’s fibers and restore its original look. It’s important to use light-colored cloths and white brushes to avoid unwanted color transfer to light-colored microfiber couches.

If your microfiber couch can’t tolerate a water-based solution, clean the grease stain with 90% rubbing alcohol. Place a protective covering on your floor before cleaning, as alcohol can damage hardwood floor finishes. Pour rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle for better control. Spray a generous amount on the stain and blot it with a clean cloth until the stain is removed. Alcohol dries fast, so you’ll be able to complete the chore without waiting all day. When the spot dries, brush it with your soft-bristled brush to fluff the couch fibers.

The Inevitable Arrival of Moisture Rings

Watermarks are unsightly rings that appear on almost all microfiber couches at some point. They are usually produced when liquid spills on the couch or when someone uses too much water while spot cleaning.

Here are some ways to clean your microfiber couch whether it needs a water-based or solvent-style cleaning solution.

Standard Cleaning Materials Needed

For microfiber couches that require water-based cleaners, you’ll need these items.

Mild detergent

Distilled water

Bowl

Light-colored cloth

White, soft-bristled brush

Hair dryer

For couches that require a solvent-based cleanser, use a rubbing alcohol solution. Here are the things you’ll need.

Isopropyl alcohol

Spray bottle

Light-colored cloth

White, soft-bristled brush

Microfiber Cleaning Methods

To make a water-based cleanser, mix soap with distilled water in a bowl. Dip your cloth in the bowl and wring it out. Blot the watermark, but avoid oversaturating it with water. When dirt appears on your cloth, rinse it out with clean water and repeat. When the stain is gone, dry the wet area with a hair dryer. This will speed the drying process and eliminate more watermark stains. When the microfiber is dry, use your soft-bristled brush to fluff the fibers.

To clean watermarks from a microfiber couch that requires solvent-style cleansers, pour rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle for better handling. Spray the watermarks with alcohol and vigorously wipe the stains with your light-colored cloth. When the stain is gone, use your soft-bristled brush to fluff the fibers.

Removing All Traces of People Pong

A visibly dirty couch is only slightly more embarrassing than a smelly one. Strong odors emanating from your microfiber couch can be caused by pets or people. Whether you have a beloved pet you’d never think about getting rid of or a hand-me-down couch you’re stuck with for the moment, you’ll love this simple odor-removing trick.

Standard Cleaning Materials Needed

You’ll need a vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment and baking soda to deodorize your microfiber couch. If you have hardwood floors, you’ll also need to place a large mat under your sofa. This method works on all microfiber couches.

Microfiber Cleaning Methods

If you have hardwood floors, place your couch on a large mat. Pour a generous amount of baking soda on your couch and allow it to sit for 24 hours. Vacuum up the baking soda the next day for a fresher couch. If you have carpeted floors, vacuum excess baking soda from the surrounding area. The baking soda absorbs odors in carpets as well as upholstery.

Dealing With Cheeky Scribbles

Have a toddler in the house? Still holding on to 20th-century writing implements? Chances are high that your microfiber couch has been or will become the canvas for some pretty interesting artwork. Thankfully, removing ink stains from your microfiber couch is a fairly straightforward endeavor.

Standard Cleaning Materials Needed

Depending on the amount and type of cleaning necessary, use a mat to catch cleaning fluids splashed around during the cleaning process. If your couch requires a water-based cleanser, gather baking soda, distilled water, two light-colored cleaning cloths, and a white, soft-bristled brush. Having a fan on hand is optional.

If your couch’s care tag says “S-W” or “S”, use rubbing alcohol to make ink stains disappear. Try to find an isopropyl alcohol solution that is at least 70% alcohol. Besides the rubbing alcohol, you’ll need a spray bottle, a light-colored cleaning cloth, and a white, soft-bristled brush.

Microfiber Cleaning Methods

To begin this chore, place your couch on a mat to protect your flooring. If you’re cleaning your couch with a water-based cleanser, combine baking soda and distilled water to make a paste. Gently rub the paste into the stain and let it sit for a few minutes. Wipe up the paste with a clean, damp cloth. Use a soft-bristled brush to fluff the couch’s fibers.

If your couch has a large ink stain from an uncapped pen, it’s important that you work from the outside in. If you work from the inside out, you risk spreading the stain to otherwise clean parts of your couch, making stain removal more difficult.

To remove ink stains with a solvent-based cleaning solution, pour rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle for easier handling. Spray the stain with alcohol and vigorously rub the area with a cloth until it’s removed. Since alcohol dries quickly, you’ll want to work in small sections. Cleaning industry professionals recommend working in 2-inch sections until ink stains are completely gone. After the stain is removed, use your white, soft-bristled brush to fluff the couch fibers.

Have You Received Bad Advice on Cleaning Microfiber?

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is an excellent household cleaner that naturally kills odor-causing bacteria. Do-it-yourself couch cleaners use this inexpensive germ-fighter to remove watermarks and other tough stains. When asked if a hydrogen peroxide-based cleaning solution works on microfiber couches, we must say that it does. But because hydrogen peroxide has well-known bleaching properties, proceed with caution when cleaning your microfiber couch.

Windex

When it comes to commercial cleaning products, Windex has a surprisingly huge fan base. The popular blue window cleaner has no clear connection to upholstery cleaning, so we have no idea how it came to be known as some people’s go-to microfiber couch cleaner. However, no one can argue with results. Windex works. You should proceed with caution when using this product on light-colored microfiber couches, however. Windex contains a distinctive blue dye that can discolor your couch.

Hairspray

Surprisingly, some people use hairspray to remove stains from their microfiber couches. But the success rate for this cleaning solution is hit or miss, and we don’t recommend trying it. The reason some people have success with hairspray is because of its high alcohol content.

However, alcohol is overly drying, and some hairspray manufacturers have lowered alcohol content in their products to avoid drying out people’s hair. Instead, they use filler ingredients such as oily emulsifiers, which can make microfiber couches dirtier than before a “cleaning.” Next, you’ll be trying to figure out how to remove hairspray from your microfiber couch. By the way, we did see a request from someone who needed to remove hairspray from her microfiber couch.

Cleaning Hacks That May or May Not Be a Good Idea

The ultimate cleaning guide for microfiber couches wouldn’t be complete without advice from your peers. These outtakes from the cleaning community include helpful hacks that worked for some microfiber couch owners, as well as some funny advice you should take at your own risk.

General Cleaning

A distressed microfiber couch owner complains that she tried to clean her slightly dirty sofa with alcohol, as many people suggested. The results made her couch look 1,000 times worse than before. She believes her cleaning technique is to blame, so she asks her peers how to fix the mess.

Here are some responses from well-wishers on Reddit:

“Can you flip the couch cushions over?”

The desperate woman answered that she wished she could. The cushions had zippers to remove the microfiber covers, but the cushions and covers were sewn into the back of the sofa itself. The woman said that if other solutions didn’t work, she would take a seam ripper to the sofa, release the cushions, and throw the microfiber covers into her washing machine.

Without asking the woman if her sofa was dark or light in color, a contributor made a plug for using Windex:

“My wife just used Windex to restore a microfiber recliner that I’d just about given up on. The results were unbelievable. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.”

Odor Removal

A woman with a kind-hearted sister presents her case. Her sister adopted a stray cat that likes to use their microfiber couch as a litter box. After using a variety of products such as baking soda, upholstery-specific enzyme cleaners, and homemade cleaning solutions, the cat urine smell disappeared, but the couch still has a lingering foul odor.

Here’s advice from the cleaning community at large:

“Try an ozone treatment and detergent extraction.”

“Have you tried Febreeze?”

“Maybe your enzymes didn’t penetrate far enough into the padding. Try a stronger enzyme cleaner and let it sit on the affected area for a longer period of time.”

As foam cushion experts, we loved the last response. The sources of many couch odors are found deep within foam couch cushions and not on microfiber cover surfaces. If your cushions are made from low-quality, porous foam, you’ll need to replace them to restore your couch to your standard of odor-free clean.

Proven Microfiber Couch Protection

To extend the life of your microfiber couch, a little preventive maintenance goes a long way. Here are some top options for keeping your couch looking and smelling like it actually belongs in your home.

Spray-On Fabric and Upholstery Protector

Like many cleaning industry professionals, Dean Davies recommends Scotchgard’s spray-on upholstery protector to preempt stains and dirt on microfiber couches. The UK-based carpet and upholstery technician said that the Scotchgard product creates a reliable layer of invisible protection against dirt, grime, and spills. According to him, you can apply this spray product to your sofa without hiring a professional. Hold the can about six inches from your sofa and spray with a smooth motion for even application.

Rubber-Backed Slipcovers

If you like to change up your decor occasionally, you’ll love the idea of slip-covering your couch. Besides delivering a different look to your room, slip covers protect your couch from many sources of dirt and stains. When accidents happen, it’s the slip covers that take the punishment. Choose ones that can be laundered in a home washing machine or a commercial machine at your local laundromat.

Rubber-backed slipcovers help prevent future dirt and persistent odors on your microfiber couch. When your pet persistently urinates on your furniture, rubber-backed slipcovers protect your couch’s foam cushions as well as the microfiber covering.

Replace Cushions

Microfiber couches look fantastic even after many years of extensive use. It’s too bad that they sometimes don’t smell as great as they look. If you like the look of your microfiber couch or sectional, consider replacing old, cheap cushions with dense, less-porous foam varieties. At FoamOrder, we offer a variety of foam products for cushion replacement, and an extensive array of popular shapes and sizes for custom orders. With removable microfiber couch covers and high-quality foam cushions, your couch will look and smell great for years to come.