How to clean a microfiber couch – remove wet and dry stains with no water spots

Pro tips for urgent clean-ups and deep cleans

grey sofa with artwork and pillows
(Image credit: Future PLC)

So, you're taking on the challenge of cleaning your microfiber couch. 

This durable material holds up well in households with kids and pets but that doesn't mean it's immune to dust, dirt, and stains. Freshen up the fibers of your microfiber sofa with our couch cleaning advice below.

Cleaning a microfiber couch

Before you start, make sure you've given yourself enough time to clean your best couch so you don't end up rushing or using the wrong products and ending up with a new stain. The chances are you'll be rewarded with some spare change hiding beneath the sofa cushions.

It's also worth checking the care code on your sofa's label: Will Cotter, from cleaning service Happy Cleans, explains that there are four codes.

orange velvet sofa with monkey side table and artwork hung on wall above

(Image credit: Future PLC / James Merrell)
  • Code W: use water-based cleaners, at Walmart, and only vacuum or brush the cloth after it has dried. 
  • Code S: use gentle solvents or water-free dry cleaning products to get rid of stains.
  • Code WS: use upholstery shampoo, at Walmart, light solvents, or water-based cleaners to clean your furniture.
  • Code X: do not use chemicals, instead lightly vacuum or brush the cloth or have it cleaned by a professional.

General clean

shark vacuum cleaner being used in living room

(Image credit: Shark)

Experts advise to always vacuum first. Karina Toner, a cleaning professional from Spekless says that before doing any cleaning, you should give your couch a good once-over with your vacuum cleaner. This will help remove any loose dirt, debris, and pet hair that can get trapped in the fibers. A small, handheld vacuum cleaner will make this easier. 

Next, use a gentle cleaning solution. We would always recommend using an eco-friendly cleaning solution where possible.

Bissell Pet Hair Eraser | $79.95 at Amazon

Bissell Pet Hair Eraser | $79.95 at Amazon
The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser is a great small handheld vacuum for removing embedded dirt and pet hair thanks to its motorized brush tool. What's more, Bissell donates $5 to pet charities with every purchase. 

Karina Toner
Karina Toner

Karina is the Operations Manager at Spekless Cleaning, a trusted maid service based in Washington D.C. The team has over five years of experience providing top-quality cleaning services for both residential and commercial clients. Karina oversees every aspect of the business, ensuring that every client gets the same top-notch service.

'Avoid using anything with harsh chemicals or bleach, as it can damage the fabric,' agrees Karina. 'Instead, mix a few drops of dish soap or a mild detergent with warm water,' 

As always, when trying any cleaning tips for the first time, test in an inconspicuous area before applying the cleaning solution to the entire couch to make sure it won't damage the fabric or leave water spots. Work in sections and replace your cloth regularly to avoid spreading dirt around or going back over areas you have already cleaned.

'Blot, don't rub. When applying the cleaning solution, be sure to blot the fabric with a clean, damp cloth. Avoid rubbing or scrubbing, as it can damage the fibers and leave water spots,' continues Karina.

'Dry thoroughly. Once you've finished cleaning, be sure to let the couch air dry completely before using it again. You can speed up the drying process by using a fan or opening a window.'

Will Cotter recommends using a ShamWow towel, available on Amazon, to help it dry quicker. Top tip: if your sofa is newly purchased, apply some fabric-protecting finish to prevent stains.

For wet stains

coffee stain on pink fabric

(Image credit: Alamy)

Blot stains dry immediately and use a white vinegar and water solution. Baby wipes, at Walmart, can also help to remove wet stains.

'For coffee stains, use detergent and warm water,' advises Will Cotter. 'On the other hand, baking soda works for greasy ones, and sparkling water will remove wine spills.'

For dry stains

microfiber cloths, sponge and plastic container with suds

(Image credit: Alamy)

For dried-on stains, Penny Nicholas of Sparkling Penny recommends shaking up a bottle of soap and water and spooning on just the suds. Then work those into the stains – that way you don't use too much water.

Penny Nicholas
Penny Nicholas

Penny Nicholas is the professional cleaner behind cleaning blog Sparkling Penny. She aims to be a a go-to source for all things cleaning around the home after learning top cleaning tricks and hacks running her own holiday cottage for over ten years. 

Deep cleaning

If your microfiber couch needs a more thorough clean, Karina Toner says you can also use a steam cleaner. Just be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions whenever steam cleaning a couch, use the appropriate attachment for your couch, and test in an inconspicuous area first.

Will Cotter also suggests deep cleaning a microfiber couch by wetting it with rubbing alcohol, at Walmart, and scrubbing any stains with a brush. 'Repeat if necessary, and vacuum with a water extractor portable machine to dry. The water will be completely suctioned and the alcohol will evaporate without a mark. Finish cleaning it by wiping the couch with an absorbent cloth,' he says.

FAQs

How do you clean it without leaving water spots?

Cleaning guru Penny Nicholas says microfiber couches are notorious for leaving watermarks when cleaned with water and recommends trying a dry cleaning solvent, at Target, instead. 

'Apply the solvent to a clean cloth first (not directly on the couch) and gently scrub in circular motions. Be sure to follow the instructions on the bottle and test the solvent on a small area first.

'Additionally, rubbing alcohol can also be used to clean a microfiber couch. Simply apply a small amount of rubbing alcohol to a clean cloth and gently dab the affected area.

Again, be sure to test the rubbing alcohol on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn't discolor or damage the fabric. Remember to use rubbing alcohol sparingly and avoid saturating the fabric with it.'

What is the best thing to clean a microfiber couch with?

It depends on the care code on your furniture and whether you are removing a certain type of stain, however, for general cleaning it's best to blot with a mix of warm water and dish soap. Do so after having vacuumed the sofa to avoid rubbing loose dirt into the fabric.


To maintain your freshly cleaned couch, keep a box of carpet and upholstery cleaning wipes, at Walmart, handy for quick cleanups.

Millie Hurst
Section Editor

Millie Hurst is Section Editor at Homes & Gardens, overseeing the Solved section, which provides readers with practical advice for their homes. She has been in the world of digital journalism for six years, having previously worked as Senior SEO Editor at News UK both in London and New York. She joined the Future team two years ago, working across a range of homes brands. Millie formerly worked as Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home, taking care of evergreen articles that help and inspire people to make the most of their homes and outdoor spaces. Millie has a degree in French and Italian and lives in North London.