How To Clean A Microfiber Couch (or Sofa)

micro fiber couch

Welcome to another edition of “Save My Sanity Saturday”! :-) I hope you will enjoy this oldie, but goodie!

I have received SO many requests/questions about how to clean microfiber couches that I’ve begun to feel a little guilty that I haven’t posted anything about this. Problem is….I don’t HAVE a microfiber couch…and I REALLY prefer to try stuff out before I pass it on to you.

But today I’m going to make an exception because I found this post by Robin at Chris and Robin’s Nest and after reading ALL 421 COMMENTS I think I have a PRETTY good handle on this problem. At least good enough to get you started and then link you up to Robin’s original post for the “How-To”.

First off…here is a little background to help you understand WHY cleaning microfiber couches is such a dilemma/pain/mystery in the first place!

Microfiber is fiber with very thin strands, that can be made to look like suede or leather, which makes it an attractive fabric for sofas and couches. Also, because microfiber is durable and repels water, it is well suited for furniture. However, furniture manufacturers and salespeople would like you to believe that they are impervious to stains and pretty much indestructible. This is NOT true! 

Just ask Robin of Chris and Robin’s Nest!  While she is very happy overall with the microfiber couch she bought  6 years ago…her pooch Calvin likes to use it as his “personal napkin”, wiping drool all over the front of the seat cushions.  (Naughty doggie!)

Photo from Chris and Robin’s Nest

The tricky thing about cleaning microfiber sofas and couches is that on MOST of them (not all), you CAN’T use soap and water to clean it or you will end up with water rings that in most cases look worse than BEFORE you cleaned it! (Or so I’ve read.)


Ever wondered what the difference between a “sofa” and a “couch” is? Well, I really hadn’t until tonight! But as I pondered what term to use in the title of this post…I figured I better at least know what I’m referring to! So, for those of you who wonder about such things (as I do) here is today’s installment of “learn something new everyday”…completely free of charge! ;-) 

        • Couches generally feature one arm or no arm at all and a tapered back.
        • Sofas are known to feature two arms and a uniform back.

However, in North America when you hear either word…most people will envision the same thing. And there you have it……mystery solved. Back to the original post……

So, before you clean, you will need to determine which type of microfiber furniture you have. You should have a tag on the furniture that has one of the following codes on it:

  • W means you must use water based cleaning solution.
  • S means you must use a “solvent” based cleaner
  • S-W means you can use S or W type cleaners
  • X means you can vacuum only (so, no water or solvent based cleaning solutions).

If you are lucky enough to have furniture with a W tag, then you can probably stop reading. :-)  But unfortunately, MOST couches and sofas will have an “S” or NO TAG AT ALL, which I would personally treat as an “S”...just to be “S”afe. :-)

OK…so now you are thinking (Yes, I can read your minds!) what sort of “solvent” are you supposed to use?  Well, since microfiber is polyester-based, most things that can be used to clean polyester can be used to clean microfiber, including Rubbing Alcohol (or clear alcohol such as vodka can be used.)

Which is what Robin decided to try with amazing results! (See picture above….and more pictures here.)

After CLEANING microfiber…another problem people run into is that the fabric can become hard. The solution to that is the gently rub the hardened fabric with a soft scrub brush. According to Robin, “This step fluffs up the surface of the fabric to make it soft again.”

Kelly at The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking saw Robin’s post and decided to try it on HER microfiber couch as well. Wow…makes me wish I had a dirty microfiber couch to TRY it on! :-)  I LOVE a great Before and After picture!!  Good job Kelly!

Photo from The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking

Brieanne at Darling Doodles was also inspired by Robin’s post and tried the same method on her couch.  Well done to YOU TOO Brieanne!

Photo from Darling Doodles


And Good Job Robin at Chris and Robin’s Nest!  Thank you for helping all the desperate and confused microfiber furniture owners out there!

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  1. says

    We have a micro-fiber couch that was donated from my parents when we moved. Its pretty dingy, as its beige, and it lasted through two kids and a dog! I can’t wait to get home and break out the vodka and scrub brush and clean it up a little! Then, I can get rid of that terrible slip cover that keeps falling off!

    • says

      Hi Katie,

      Just curious how your cleaning project came out? Could you please write me and let me know the results of using Vodka and what other arsenal of tools you employed for this cleaning task? My father came over, that big o’ grease monkey, did not bother to take off his grimy coat. After he got up I just knew I was in for a new cleaning job. Sometimes I swear he does this on purpose. He left my micro-suede couch looking so bad on the arm rest and the back. PLEASE HELP!!

  2. Dana says

    Wow. I had gotten rid of my microfiber couch years ago because it was just dingy. I wish I had known this. Next house we were given another microfiber, I just had a blanket covering it and was a total freak about the blanket not coming off ever! It saved the couch for a while but we ended up moving again and sold it. I still don’t ever want another one of those horrible couches…lol.

  3. Mary Alice says

    I love my microfiber cleaning cloths but I hate how I’ve been unable to keep them clean looking. I wash them after I use them (in a separate load so they don’t pick up fibers from other fabrics), but I can’t get the stains out. So, after reading this, I wonder if I need to soak them in alcohol first and then launder as usual. Hmmm. Inquiring minds want to know. :-)

    Off to go find some alcohol.

  4. Hazel says

    I have a sand colored sofa when I seen this post this morning I had to try it on a small stain .OH no ,no alcohol umm I found a hand wipe in my purse and guess what the stain came right out ,You’ve made my day from now on these hand whips will stay on my end table so I can remove stain right away ,Thank You .

  5. Timi says

    After reading this, the first question I have is….why did all these people buy WHITE sofas? Hahaha! But I’m fixin’ to use this to clean my sage green ones. Thanks for the info.

    • Russell says

      I used a solution of water and about a half cup of oxy clean liquid. I read somewhere that oxyclean is basically hydrogen peroxide. so, I added a little peroxide in the mix as well. I then just wiped each arm gently clean with a white towel and watched the dirt come off. Then I let it all dry and it is as good as new. as for the cushions I just took off the covers and threw them in the washing machine with regular detergent and about a cup of oxy clean. I then filled the washer up and let it soak for about 30 minutes then finished the wash cycle and dryed them on low heat. After all was said and done, my furniture looks brand new again. I do not have before and after pictures to post but this works GREAT!

      • Aurora says

        What color is your microfiber sofa? Oxy-clean has a lot of sodium in it so it’s bad about bleaching and I don’t want to try it on my chocolate sofa just yet.

      • Lori says

        I have a brown microfiber sofa and I washed mine in the washer as well, only I didn’t use oxy….. I actually stupidly just threw them in with regular detergent and mine came out clean and soft…. but I do not speak for all micro sofas…..

    • says

      Wonder why…
      Once the kids were gone. Swore no more dogs .. that was 3 dogs ago…
      We could have white. No kids…No dogs… and it would go well with our home interior…

      Of course, in no time we had dogs. And when one passed away we got two!!
      We should have outdoor furniture at this point.

      Well the dog (one’s too old and just gets blamed) jumps on it when we are in bed. She generally is off before we can catch her. ha

      Love the couch very comfortable and pretty if you can control the environment.

      Basically we got white cause we aren’t smart.. ha

    • Michelle says

      I have a sage green sectional that needs a few spots cleaned. My dog likes to rub his face and he has weepy eyes and it has left marks.

    • Britnie says

      I have a sage green micro fiber couch also and I am going to try this soon, did it work well on yours? To make sure I have this right…..You spray it with alcohol, then use a sponge to clean it? Mine only has minor spots that need cleaned, mainly from formula bottles tipping on the couch. SO I am wondering the best way to spot clean it? Spray, wipe, brush?

  6. MarY duke says

    We have two very Dirty ones we got
    Given Before our move to Heber that we are going to attempt to clean, you can try it out on ours ;)

  7. Susan says

    Makes me rethink the desire for a microfibre sofa ;D

    What’s a davenport then? ;)

    • says

      A davenport is a style of sofa that converts into a bed that can be folded up with the mattress and bedding still in place.

      And now you know…… ;-)

    • storey, sherry says

      I truely hate my microfiber sofa. Which I bought at Basett and it cost a bundle. Water stains it, dog drool is impossible to get off it. It gets really hard after being cleaned. It cost a lot to hve it cleaned professionally. If you do not have one do not buy one. If you have one it is the worst for dogs.

  8. Marianne says

    How do you use the rubbing alcohol? Do you just soak a rag in it and rub the stains out of the couch?

    • Lisa says

      I saw this on another post and used this tip to FANTASTIC results. Just use a spry bottle and make sure you’ve got it set to the “fine” and not “stream”. Let it sit, then use a WHITE sponge so the color doesn’t leach from sponge to sof and rub away at the dirt. Let dry and brush away. The clean feels much softer than the dirty once you’re all done.

    • Deanne says

      Put the rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. I actually did mine yesterday and I can’t believe how great it looks!

  9. Annette says

    I tried this on my micro-fiber sofa, I can’t believe how clean it came, just tried a couple of spots at first, but it works wonders, so now I am doing the whole sofa. My sofa is red so where your leg bends and your jeans rub on the fabric, it tooked black, I tried this trick and VIOLA it worked. came really clean.

    Wonderful, thank you.

      • Teresa says

        I too have a red microfiber sofa that needs a good cleaning. Did you use the rubbing alcohol or Vodka to get yours clean??

    • says

      thank you for telling us about your cleaning with the alcohol solution ….I am a little to afraid to try it as I was told it would make my sofa feel really hard …..but now I am so gonna try it out….my little dog likes to rub his back on the edge of my sofa and my grandkid spilled some food on it to….but thank you again …..

  10. Laurat99 says

    I use my Bissell carpet cleaner’s hand tools to clean my microfiber couch and chairs. They are a little “hard” after being cleaned, but soften up after a few days.

      • ScooterSATX says

        Depends. Is your Bissel going to be driving? If so, I would not. Also, if your Bissel has had prior problems with alcohol, probably not a good idea. You don’t want the guilt of something bad happening because you gave it some alcohol.

      • Stephani Darlin says

        Hahahaha I was so intensely focused on reading this because my couches need some love asap, that i got halfway through your comment before i realized you were joking. Which made it even more funny of course…

        But seriously, DID you put alcohol in your Bissel?!

      • says

        Stellar comment! We are purchasing two recliners and need to make sure we can clean off dog kisses, chocolate chips, blue jeans and red/blueberry juice;)


  1. […] P.S. to clean microfiber couches (don’t use water!) you need some vodka or rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle, the scrubby side of a neutral colored sponge, and a white stiff bristled scrub brush (like the ones used for doing dishes). You spray the alcohol directly onto the couch and scrub with the scrubby side of the sponge until clean. After you are done scrubbing, you use the scrub brush in a circular motion to pop all the fibers back up, get rid of dark spots, and make the fabric soft again. Works like a charm! Got the idea from this tutorial: […]