No matter how hard you try, that gorgeous fabric sofa is eventually going to suffer the indignancy of a spill, a muddy pawprint, or an errant, sauce-laden ‘spaghetti incident’, all of which can leave a mark on your pristine fabric. Over time, what was once a beautiful piece of furniture can start to look tired and a little grubby.

Small stains and spills can be dealt with quickly, but how about ground-in dirt? What can you do to freshen up the look of your fabric sofa?

Here are a few handy hints on the best way to bring your sofa back to its best.

Fishpools - How to Clean a Fabric Sofa

First Aid for sofa stains

The quicker you deal with a wet stain or spill like drinks or food, the easier it is to get it out. Leave it for even a few minutes, and it’ll sink into the fabric, making it harder to remove, even with some of the commercially available stain removers.

  • If a spill is still wet, use paper towels to blot it to absorb as much of the moisture as you can – that way you have less of a problem to deal with.
  • With mud, the best thing to do is to let it dry completely, and then brush it off with a stiff brush. If you use wet techniques to try and get it out, you’ll risk pushing the dirt deeper into the fabric, and making the stain worse.
  • Before you reach for that spray stain remover, apply a small amount on an inconspicuous spot (such as the underside of the sofa). Some fabrics will react to commercially available stain removers, so spritzing on a harsh chemical could make the situation much, much worse!

By trying out the cleaner on a part of the sofa that you don’t usually have on display, you’ll be able to make sure that the cleaner won’t affect the nap of the cloth or even bleach the colour out. That’s especially important with velvet covers like our ultra-modern Park Avenue or the more traditional Constable range.

Home-made cures for sofa stains

You don’t have to use commercially bought stain removers. You’ve probably got some excellent stain removers lying around the house. Yet, we recommend that you double check the cleaning instructions on your sofa’s label before trying any new fixes.

Here’s our top pick of natural solutions to those unnatural stains:


  • Some sofas can be steam cleaned, which is also an incredibly effective way to kill any germs or bacteria.
  • However, it’s important to check first if your sofa can be steam-cleaned. For example, linen sofas, which are incredibly popular, cannot be steam cleaned as it will cause the fabric to shrink.
  • If your sofa can take a bit of heat, then steam cleaning will lift the dirt out and make those colours pop again, making it look like new.
  • All you’ll need is water, so it’s the most natural of all ways to clean a sofa, make sure you use a microfibre cloth cover to avoid any marks.
  • As with all cleaning, check on a part of the sofa that’s out of sight first, to make sure it won’t mark or damage the surface.
  • If your sofa is made of velvet or Draylon, then check the manufacturer’s recommendations before you break out the steam cleaner.

Fire up the washing machine

  • Some fabric sofas (especially if they’re linen, like our own gorgeous Sarasota range), have removable covers that can be unzipped and popped in the washing machine.
  • However, you shouldn’t do this too often, as it will eventually affect the way the fabric responds once it’s put back onto the sofa.
  • To avoid any problems, you should check the label on your sofa before trying any new cleaning cures.
  • You can use a very gentle detergent and avoid softeners or harsh chemical freshener beads that may damage the fabric.
  • Remember to use a cool wash too – the last thing you want is to take out your covers and find that they don’t fit any more!
  • It’s best to dry your covers flat, and don’t tumble them either as you could end up shrinking them.

Everyday care

To ensure your sofa lasts cleaner for longer, there are a few simple caring tricks you can do that require very little effort.

  • For general upholstery care, you can simply brush or vacuum your sofa once a week to keep it looking fresh.
  • Deal with stains, like any spilt drinks, for example, as soon as they happen. Dab a clean absorbent cloth onto the spill to quickly prevent it from damaging your product. If your product is covered under our Guardsman Protection Plan then relax, an accident on your sofa can be easily fixed for 5 years.
  • Try positioning your sofa away from the window, avoiding sunlight will help prolong the quality of the colour of your product.
  • For your recliner sofa, take care in handling your peaceful positions. Avoid forcing the function as this can create problems, just sit back and relax.

Prevention is better than cure

  • If your house is busy with kids and dogs, then the best way to keep a fabric sofa looking its best is to use covers and throws that can easily be put through the wash at any time.


Modern fabrics are surprisingly resilient to everything life can throw at them, and sofas are designed to be able to weather the occasional accidental spill or muddy footprint without too much hassle.

Fishpools - How to Clean a Fabric Sofa

If you do have a stain that won’t budge on a seat cushion, then one of the most straightforward answers (especially if it’s an unpatterned fabric) is to turn the cushion over!

If all your cleaning doesn’t work, then perhaps it’s time to sit down (on a clean bit), fire up the laptop, and have a browse at the fabric sofas on offer at Fishpools. You’ll even get the option of a 5-year Guardsman Protection promise against stains and accidental damage.

For secured protection, we offer a 5-year Guardsman Protection Plan, which will cover you from life’s little accidents. If your sofa sees an unexpected spill or damage, you can easily claim on this straightforward plan by calling our UK call centre or by downloading a claim form online. It’s a safe way to ensure your sofa can carry on looking as good as possible with its full use. Find out more information about protecting your sofa here