How to protect your sofa fabric

Updated February 21, 2017

Stains, tears and normal wear in the fabric of a sofa reduce the attractiveness and usable life of sofas. While sofa fabrics are often treated with chemicals in the factory to protect against stains and wear, these wear off over time. One of the most proactive efforts you can take to protect sofa fabric is to clean promptly using the correct cleaning methods.

Cover the sofa completely with plastic sheeting whenever you are moving, painting or remodelling in any capacity. Ensure the plastic sheeting has no tears or holes that would allow paint or other stains onto the fabric.

Vacuum the fabric regularly to avoid a build-up of dust and grime that will eventually stain the fabric.

Clean the area where any stain has occurred with a cloth and water first before resorting to stronger cleaners; it may come off with just water.

Test an oxy-type cleanser specifically labelled for sofa fabric for colour fastness on the sofa; areas underneath the couch or on the back of the couch if it is facing a wall make good test spots. Apply as you would to the stain according to label directions, and wait 24 hours. If the fabric shows no signs of residue or discolouration, clean stains with this cleanser according to label directions.

Treat hard-to-remove red wine stains with white wine or white wine vinegar before cleaning off with water or cleanser. Again, test this solution on a hard-to-see area for colour fastness before using on a stain on a visible surface.

Dab off any moisture from the cleaned area of the sofa, and use a hairdryer on cool setting or fans to help it dry quickly. A moist area will attract dust, dirt and grime quickly, which means another cleaning and additional associated wear on that area of your sofa fabric. Repeatedly cleaning the same spot or allowing moisture to grow mould will reduce the longevity of your sofa fabric.

Give the sofa a proper cleaning twice a year with a wet cloth to remove the natural dingy build-up and aid the longevity of the true fabric colour.


Never use bleach on fabric sofas, even those that appear white. Watch out for sofa fabrics labelled as dry-clean only! These fabrics don't handle water or standard sofa cleaners well.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic sheeting
  • Vacuum
  • Soft cloth
  • Oxygen bleach cleanser
  • White vinegar or white wine
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About the Author

Samantha Belyeu has been writing professionally since 2003. She began as a writer and publisher for the Natural Toxins Research Center and has spent her time since as a landscape designer and part-time writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Texas A&M University in Kingsville.