Written by Tenley Haraldson.

From movie nights to sick days to pet beds, couches absorb their fair share of stains and odors. But with the minimal elbow grease, fabric know-how, and the best water-based shampoo for couches, this piece of furniture will look and smell its best in no time.

Note: If you need to clean a leather couch, we’ve got you covered!

Find the Fabric Cleaning Instructions 

Just like you should always read your clothing tags for care directions, you need to do the same with upholstered furniture. Take a minute to search for the cleaning instructions: 

  • Under a couch cushion
  • Attached on the back 
  • Underneath the frame
  • Next to one of the legs

If you can’t find a tag, contact the retailer for details.

Different Care Instructions for Different Fabrics 

Cleaning methods for different upholstery fabrics vary greatly, so it’s important to understand the universal cleaning code(s) listed on the couch’s tag. 


“S” means that the fabric must be cleaned using a water-free solvent or similar dry-cleaning product. To find dry cleaning solvent for home use, ask your furniture store for recommendations. Most likely, you may need to call an upholstery-cleaning company.


“X” means that the fabric should not be cleaned with a water-based cleaner or a solvent. Break out the vacuum and use your vacuum’s upholstery attachment (it’s often T-shaped with a brush on the bottom; it might also be round). You can also brush off debris with a soft-bristle upholstery brush or hand broom.

W and W/S

A “W” means that you can use a water based upholstery cleaner, like our Natural Carpet & Upholstery Shampoo. “W/S” means that you can use a combination of water-based cleaners and solvents.

Typically made from microfiber, cotton, and woven polyester, sofas with a “W”are the easiest to clean.  

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The Couch Cleaner Products You’ll Need 

water based shampoo for couch

Before & After: 

water based cleaner for couch

If your couch has a W or W/S tag – and you’re dealing with a gnarly stain – these are the steps to clean a fabric couch by hand. Just like with any cleaning method, test an inconspicuous area before cleaning the entire piece of furniture.

1. Remove Couch Cushion Covers (If Possible)

Note: If your couch cushions aren’t removable, no worries: Skip to #2!

If you’ve got removable cushion covers, spray stains with our Natural Stain Remover and agitate with a gentle laundry brush. For deep stains, wait at least 8 hours/overnight and launder. Though instructions may vary, you’ll likely need to wash them on a delicate cycle and air dry them flat (a dry cycle could cause shrinkage).

2. Vacuum Sofa 

how to clean a fabric couch by hand

Using your vacuum’s upholstery attachment helps to dislodge and remove debris that could cause bigger stains during the cleaning process. Be sure to get into crevices and seams. 

3. Break out Your Sofa Stain Remover

sofa stain remover

Dealing with big stains? Spray the entire affected area with Puracy Natural Stain Remover. We recommend letting it sit for at least a few hours. The longer you wait, the more time these enzymatic cleaners have to work.

4. Dilute Your Fabric Couch Cleaner

In the bucket, mix warm water and Puracy Natural Carpet & Upholstery Shampoo. This 4x concentrated formula means that you only need a small amount (e.g. 100 ounces of water requires just 1 ounce of cleaning solution)! 

5. Blot, Rinse, Repeat

Puracy upholstery cleaner

Soak one microfiber cloth in the cleaning solution and gently blot all stained areas of the couch. Rubbing and scrubbing can damage the fabric and make stains look even worse!

Note: If you have a carpet cleaning machine, see the section below!

6. Grab Two Fresh Microfiber Cloths 

Dip a second clean microfiber cloth in plain warm water. Blot the stained area to help remove the remnants of the cleaning solution. With your third (dry) microfiber cloth, blot the area again until dry.

7. Let Everything Dry

Before replacing anything, make sure that each couch part is completely dry. You can point a fan at the damp area or open your window to accelerate the process.

How to Clean a Couch with a Carpet Cleaning Machine

If you don’t have removable cushions – or your sofa’s arms and back are filthy – a carpet cleaning machine is the easiest way to clean a fabric couch. Follow steps 1-4 (above) and use the wand attachment on your machine to extract stain particles. 

Let it dry fully before using – you’re good to go! 

How to Get Smells out of a Couch

The fresh citrus scent of your Puracy upholstery clever – and it’s hardworking plant-based enzymes – should help your couch smell fresh and clean. But if your couch is still smelling a little musty, dusty, or funky, try this natural method: 

  1. Shake baking soda liberally over all couch surfaces.
  2. Let sit for at least 30 minutes (bonus points if it’s in a sunny spot).
  3. Vacuum up the baking soda using your vacuum’s upholstery attachment.

Why Is Our Water-Based Upholstery Cleaner So Amazing?

fabric couch cleaner

Our 99.36% Natural Carpet & Upholstery Shampoo was developed by PhD chemists, doctors, and cleaning experts to be the most concentrated, most effective plant-based upholstery cleaner anywhere. It’s 100% biodegradable, completely fume-free, and tackles hundreds of stains and odors at their source. 

Whether you use it by hand or with a carpet cleaning machine, you’ll have a guest-ready sofa that smells fresh – and looks amazing.