Caring for a Fabric Sofa – Prevention and Stain Removal

Regardless of what type of fabric your sofa is made of, caring for a fabric sofa offers its share of challenges. After all, life does not revolve around keeping the sofa clean. Things happen. And of course, when they do happen, we want to remove the remnants of those things as cleanly, neatly, and permanently as possible.

I would like to start out by saying that bleach, even diluted bleach, should never be used on a fabric sofa. I once had a beautiful almost white sofa. I thought it was white. It looked about as white as white could be. Not only did my diluted bleach concoction remove the stain I had tried for two years to get out, but it also removed what tiny bit of color the sofa originally had. While it looked white to the naked eye, white does not always mean “bleach white,” and almost whites, off whites, eggshells, and other close to white colors look pretty bad with a big white blotch where the color used to be. Not only that, but bleach will eat through the fabric quickly, and it won’t take long before every day wear on the sofa creates a hole where the stain once was. I’ll take a stain over a hole in my couch any day.

There is a new trend in fabric cleaners since the revolution and world wide love affair with Oxy Clean. Everybody is adding oxygen to their cleansers. Oxy type cleansers are very popular for nearly every household stain. And in most cases, they do a pretty good job. However, removing a stain that removes the color of the fabric creates a whole other problem that now you have to work around. All fabric cleaners, no matter how safe they claim to be, should be spot tested somewhere that most eyes will never see. The back corner of the skirting or where the fabric comes together in the back corner are the two best places to spot test. A spot test isn’t complete until 24 hours have gone by with no sign of residue, fabric damage, or color alterations.

A great number of reports have come in about the effectiveness of Spray and Wash type pre-treaters that have been used as a protective quickie for fabric sofas. These reports claim that a quick spray with the pre-treater followed by a quick brushing with a cloth brush keeps sofas looking sharp and clean without the hassle and expense of professional applications of protective sprays. While the general rules of spot testing apply, very few users have found any reserves about using this type of product on their sofa fabrics.

One of the fastest ways to ruin sofa fabrics is to allow animals, shoes, and other potentially staining and straining materials on the sofa. Of course, we can’t control everyone in our households all the time, but setting a basic standard of rules to help maintain the sofa fabric will at least help to nullify the incident rate. Baby bottles, candy, and soda are the three fastest destroyers of fabric integrity.

Lint brushes designed particularly for upholstery, used in combination with upholstery attachments for the vacuum cleaner, will of course pick up the unsightly pet hair your best friend leaves behind. Placing books or other small objects in the sofa cushions is often a satisfactory deterrent to keep Fido off the furniture altogether. However, pet hair is magically drawn to sofa cushions. The nicer and newer the sofa cushions are, the more the pet hair is attracted to it. It is almost as though sofa cushions are created at the factory with a pet hair magnet laced right into the cloth. As frustrating as it is, continually keeping up with pet hair will make a significant difference in the long run when it comes to keeping your sofa looking new and sharp. Allowing pet hair to accumulate, especially under the cushions and in the cracks of the sofa, will only encourage that musty animal aroma that often creates stench over time.

Caring for a fabric sofa can be as easy as scraping off stains that crust over, using a damp cloth on stains that dribble, and giving the entire sofa a good thorough cleaning twice a year. Adding a little protective spray can help in the sofa’s longevity. If you need to use a fabric cleanser, make sure that you remove all of the cleanser to avoid having a rough spot of darkened material when it dries.

Properly caring for a fabric sofa will inevitably add years to its life. Naturally, when we plunk down significant sums of money for a piece of furniture, we want it to outlast your desire to have it. Thus, the immediate cleaning of stains coupled with an ounce of prevention can mean your sofa will be ready to hand off when your kid gets their first apartment.



One Response

  1. Hi, I bought a used cream colored large chair/ love seat almost. The 2 pillows, the seat and the back pillow had marks that oxi would not get out, so I soaked the covers in the tub with bleach overnight and air dried. They came out beautiful!! Now the problem is that they are whiter than the rest of the sofa. Do you think I could spray some diluted bleach to the rest of the sofa? Help please,
    Thanks so much! Cristina

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