Sofa Fabric and Upholstery Care Guide

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You and your sofa were once a match made in heaven.

But kids, pets and life’s little accidents (here’s looking at you, red wine) can leave it needing some serious TLC.

Whether your sofa needs an emergency spot-clean or general freshen-up, or you’re on the hunt for an easy-care suite, read on for expert advice on how to look after your upholstery and fall in love with your living room all over again.

Before taking the plunge with a new sofa, think about which fabric will best suit your family’s needs. If you’re kitting out your first home, consider the longevity and versatility of a sofa that will grow with you. Or with kids around, look for soft corners and easy-to-clean covers. Check these boxes as you go…

Furniture Care

Check out our selection of fabrics by clicking here

First home

Budget is key. You need your upholstery to work with different deco and furniture over the next few years, so a hard-wearing but neutral coloured piece that offers you value for money is your best choice.

Having a baby

Choose a sofa with machine washable covers to save you time and money. In terms of the colour, go for something practical over an eye-catching shade. Grey can take more wear and tear than a brighter hue, plus it works well with different throws and cushions, which further help to protect your sofa from little ones!

Children grown up

Kids older or flown the nest? You can afford to be a bit bolder with your choice of sofa. If you’re happy with the current decoration in your living room space, go for a vibrant fabric sofa design to pull the theme together and really wow. If you want something more subtle, leather is a perfect choice. It will age well and develop a charming ‘lived in’ appearance over time.


Do it yourself

If a stain is still wet, grab a clean, white cloth or baby wipe and simply blot as much of the spillage as possible. Avoid rubbing or scrubbing your sofa at this point – simply blotting will stop the stain spreading and lessen the chances of it settling into the upholstery fabric.

To tackle larger areas, a fabric upholstery kit is your sofa’s best bet – it’s been tried and tested to ensure it won’t damage your furniture.

Dried-in marks will need more work. But before you start rubbing, carefully read the care label attached to your fabric sofa. You may be able to remove some stains with a damp cloth, but if you do this too often (or use too much water) it could eventually leave water marks that spoil the look of your sofa.

Top tip: Clean up spills as soon as you can. Fresh stains are always easier to deal with. 

Time to call in the professionals

For really stubborn marks, remove the sofa cushion covers and take them to the dry cleaners, or if the fabric sofa covers can’t be removed, enlist the help of a specialist upholstery cleaning company.

Vacuum your sofa

If your fabric sofa has started to look a little dull, a quick vacuum can make the world of difference. Make sure you remove any dust before you start cleaning, as wet dirt can stain the fabric. Vacuum the cushions, then use the attachment specifically designed for sofas to really get into all the crevices without damaging the pile.

If you share your sofa with any four-legged family members, specialist pet hair removal tools can do the trick, but be gentle as too much vigorous rubbing on your pet’s favourite sleeping spot could lead to some worn-looking patches.

Protect your sofa

To minimise any potential future damage (without resorting to keeping the plastic covers on forever!), consider using arm caps or removable fabric on headrests. It’s also best to avoid positioning your sofa in direct sunlight, which can fade the fabric over time. If this isn’t possible, keeping curtains closed on bright, sunny days when you’re not in the house can minimise sun damage.

Finally, slip into something more comfortable. Jewellery, zips and buckles can all cause snags in fabric sofas and we’ve heard that loungewear is very on trend…

Keep your sofa looking great

To keep it looking it’s best, spruce up your sofa twice a year. Many fabric sofas now have machine-washable covers to save you the hassle of hand-washing or dry cleaning, but remember to follow the manufacturer’s washing instructions to avoid shrinkage or damage to the pile.

And don’t forget your cushions – to extend your sofa’s lifespan, plump and reverse regularly.

Top tip: If you’re able to machine wash covers, put them back on while still slightly damp so they dry around the shape of your sofa for a tight fit. 

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