How To Clean Fabric Sofa Without Water?

To clean a fabric sofa without water, start by vacuuming the sofa, deodorize it to remove bad smell then carry out spot treatment cautiously to rid the sofa of any stains.

The living room sofa may be the most high-traffic, most-used, and least maintained piece of furniture in many homes. Pets jump on them, teenagers sit on them – often feet-first.

We snack on them, lay on them, spill drinks, and abuse them. And when it is time to clean a fabric sofa, water is not always a good idea. Here is how to clean your fabric sofa without using water.

Check Your Fabric Tag

Your sofa came with a fabric care tag that will tell you exactly which methods are best for cleaning the furniture piece. Various letters on these tags represent different instructions for cleaning.

They are as follows:

1 – Code W

Code W means that your fabric sofa can be cleaned with water-based products. Water will not harm these sofas.

2 – Code S

Code S is for a fabric sofa that can only be dry-cleaned or scrubbed with water-free solvents to remove any soiling or stains.

3 – Code W-S

This code means that your fabric upholstery can safely be cleaned with either solvent-based or water-based products.

4 – Code W

If your sofa’s tag has a code W on it, you can only clean this fabric with a vacuum cleaner. Any deeper cleaning must be done by a professional.

Many sofas have lost their tags over time. If this is the case in your home, using a non-water method in an inconspicuous area is a good idea to test the method. This will help ensure that your chosen method won’t leave a stain or discolor your sofa.

Step One – Vacuum The Whole Thing

The first step you will need to make to clean your sofa without water is to vacuum the entire piece of furniture.

  • Place the brush attachment onto your vacuum cleaner.
  • Remove all sofa cushions, vacuum them on both sides, and then set them aside.
  • Vacuum the entire sofa, including the sides, arms, back, top, and space underneath where the cushions will sit.
  • Use attachments to vacuum down in the cracks and spaces where crumbs and debris could be hiding.

Step Two – Prevent Smelly Sofa –  Deodorize! 

After weeks of smelly feet, pets, and body odor resting on our sofas, they will begin to have a bad odor, even if we don’t always smell it ourselves. Because of this, it is important to deodorize the sofa before you begin to clean it.


  • Dry baking soda
  • Vacuum cleaner


  • Shake the baking soda out all over the cushions that have been set to the side on the floor nearby.
  • Sprinkle the baking soda liberally all over the sofa.
  • Leave the baking soda on the entire sofa for at least an hour to allow it to work on removing the odors. You might even choose to leave the baking soda on all night long.
  • Vacuum all of the baking soda off of the sofa, removing all traces of it.

Important Precautions To Take Before Step Three

Before using a solvent-based cleaner on your sofa, a few precautions should be taken.

  • Lay a drop cloth down to protect wood surfaces of nearby tables and floors since solvent-based cleaners can permanently stain wood. You will also need to protect painted surfaces.
  • Open windows or doors, or use fans to ventilate the room, as some upholstery cleaners can have heavy fumes.
  • Be sure that any fire sources such as candles, fireplaces, wax burners, etc., have been extinguished before using solvent-based cleaners nearby.
  • Refrain from smoking or using e-cigs while using these types of cleaners.

Step Three – Spot Treatment And Removal Of Stains

Once the sofa has been deodorized, you will need to check it for stains. Check over the entire sofa, including the cushions.


  • Solvent-based upholstery cleaner
  • Scrub brush
  • Vacuum cleaner


  • Spray the stain with the solvent-based upholstery cleaner. If it is a new product you have never used on your sofa, it is good to do a patch test in an inconspicuous place.
  • Use the attachment that came with the cleaner to spread it all over the stain. If no attachment was provided, use the scrub brush for this step.
  • Allow the upholstery cleaner to sit on the stain for the amount of time recommended by the cleaner’s manufacturer. You should be able to find the instructions on the side of the bottle. It is recommended to allow the cleaner to sit until it has dried.
  • Vacuum the dried upholstery cleaner off of the sofa.

Spot Cleaning Without The Harsh Chemicals

Step three uses harsh chemicals that can damage your wood, painted surfaces, and lungs. It is also flammable and could be harmful to your pets. Here are some ideas for those who would rather go the natural route to spot cleaning a fabric sofa.

Cleaning A Fabric Sofa With Vinegar

Vinegar is a wonderful cleaning solution for your home. It can be used for many different cleaning solutions, including your fabric sofa.


  • White vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Spray bottle
  • Bristle brush
  • Microfiber cloth


  • Mix one part of white vinegar and olive oil into an empty spray bottle.
  • Spray the stained areas on the sofa or the entire sofa with the vinegar mix.
  • Scrub gently with the bristled brush, spending at least five minutes on stains.
  • Let the solution soak into the sofa. 
  • Wipe away any residue with the microfiber cloth.

Using Alcohol To Clean Fabric Sofas

Alcohol can also be used on fabric sofas, as long as you don’t allow it to wet the upholstery.


  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Empty spray bottle
  • Gloves
  • Mask
  • 2 Cloths


  1. Put on the mask and gloves.
  1. Fill the empty spray bottle with rubbing alcohol.
  1. Lightly spray the alcohol onto the sofa stain, taking care not to soak it.
  1. Rub the spot for five minutes with a cloth.
  1. Wipe away the residue with another cloth.

How To Do A Spot Test

A spot test is a good idea before using any new cleaning product for cleaning methods. Follow a few simple steps to do this.

  • Choose an inconspicuous spot on the sofa for your spot test. Consider that the spot you choose could be seen if you ever rearrange the furniture, so pick a spot that isn’t likely to be exposed in such cases.
  • Take a Microsoft fiber cloth or rag and dampen it with a small bit of the upholstery cleaner you plan to use.
  • Rub the dampened cloth in a small spot in your chosen area, watching to see if any of the sofa’s fabric dye is transferred to the cloth.
  • Let the spot air dry.
  • Check to see if there is any discoloration or staining of the test spot. If not, then this product is safe to use on your sofa.

What To Do If You Don’t Have a Vacuum Cleaner

You will need a vacuum cleaner for many of the methods we’ve discussed. If you do not have one, you can still freshen your sofa using your power, a broom, and the sunshine.

  • Remove all sofa cushions and beat them outside to remove dust and debris.
  • Choose a sunny day and set the cushions outside in the sun to air out any musky odors. Do not leave them out too long, or the sun could bleach them.
  • While the cushions are off the couch, sweep the dirt and dust from the area beneath where they sit with a broom.

FAQ’s On how to clean fabric sofa without water.

How Often Should I Clean My Sofa?

Your sofa should be vacuumed and deodorized with baking soda at least once a month. Deep cleaning should be done at least once every six months.

What Is A Solvent-Based Cleaner?

This refers to a cleaner that is not water-based but is made with hydrocarbon compounds. 

Will Solvent-Based Or Homemade Cleaners Work On My Sofa?

These types of cleaners are usually very efficient on grease or oil-based stains. They might not fully remove water-based stains or stains which contain tannins, such as wine and Kool-Aid type drinks.

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