Different Types of Sofa Fabrics and Tips On How to Clean Them

cleaning sofa cover

I am writing this article as I am sitting on a sofa and typing with my laptop. I think this is the best way to start an article about sofas and how you can clean them.

If you’re looking to buy a sofa or clean an old one, there are a few things you should know. The sofa upholstery is more than just a pretty design and fabric—it’s actually the key to knowing how to clean it.

In this article, we’ll cover different types of sofas and give you some tips on how to clean them so your investment will last for years to come.

Let’s get started.

Types of Sofa Upholstery Fabric

There are a lot of different types of upholstery fabric. Here’s a list, in no particular order, to get you started: leather and faux leather; cotton, silk, polyester, acrylic, and rayon; wool and linen, and hemp.

Don’t freak out if this seems super overwhelming. I’m going to break it down for you.


If you have leather furniture, then you’re in luck! Leather sofas are relatively easy to clean and maintain. The best way to remove spills and stains from a leather sofa is with a soft cloth, dampened lightly with distilled water. Remove any excess liquid first before wiping away the spill or stain. 

If you need extra cleaning power, use a leather cleaner specific to your type of leather (there are different cleaners for aniline, pigmented, etc.). A leather cleaner can be purchased and applied yourself or done by a professional service. Once all stains are removed, apply a leather conditioner once every six months to prevent further staining and damage.

Faux Leather

Faux leather sofas are made out of synthetic material, so the cleaning process is pretty simple. The sofa can be cleaned with a soft brush, damp cloth, and dry cloth. You should avoid using harsh chemicals such as bleach to clean faux leather. 

If you want to go the extra mile, you can apply a leather conditioner to the surface, but this step is not essential when cleaning faux leather unless the surface is noticeably parched or cracking.

If you have stubborn stains that won’t come off with soap and water, then consider getting a specialized cleaner from your local home goods store. Whichever method you use to clean your faux leather sofa, try to keep it out of direct sunlight as much as possible!


Cotton is a delicate fabric and is prone to staining. It is a soft fabric, making it one of the most widely used sofa upholstery materials. If you have a cotton-made sofa, the best thing to do when it gets stained is to clean it as soon as possible. 

Cotton can be cleaned but requires thorough cleaning and care because it absorbs water quickly, which can damage its fibers if not dried properly.

A great way to start cleaning your cotton couch is by vacuuming it first before using any cleaning agent on it. 

Make sure that you vacuum all sides of the couch so that no dirt or dust will be left behind. Before purchasing any sofa cleaner, check the label first and see if they are safe for use with cotton fabrics.


There are many fine fabrics out there, but silk is the most delicate of them all. Silk is very easy to damage and should always be cleaned by a professional cleaner using only water-based cleaning products (oil-based cleaners can stain).


Polyester is the most common fabric found on sofas. It is a synthetic fiber that is easy to clean and care for. The next time you’re shopping for a new sofa pay close attention to the fabric tags, as they will usually state whether or not the sofa contains polyester. It is often blended with other fabrics to give it a softer feel.

When cleaning your polyester sofa use warm water and mild soap or detergent. Avoid using too much water as this can lead to staining and shrinkage of your sofa’s upholstery. 

Since your soap or detergent may contain harsh chemicals, test it on an inconspicuous area first before applying it directly onto the stain or mess. 


To clean an acrylic sofa, dissolve one teaspoon of dish soap in one cup of warm water. Use a clean sponge or cloth to blot the stain.

Apply more as needed. To rinse, use a dry white cloth to absorb excess moisture. Air-dry away from direct sunlight and heat.


Rayon is a semi-synthetic fabric that is made from decomposing the cellulose found in wood pulp. Because the fibers are not naturally strong, manufacturers often mix them with other materials and processes that reinforce their strength.

Rayon is used to making furniture upholstery, but it is generally considered a delicate fabric due to its tendency to shrink and wrinkle. 

When you’re cleaning rayon sofas, be sure not to get them too wet because they are prone to water damage.


You can use baking soda when cleaning a nylon fabric sofa. First, vacuum or sweep the surface of the sofa to remove all loose particles. Then, use baking soda mixed with water to gently scrub the stain. Wipe with a damp cloth and dry with paper towels then air dry.

Another thing you may try on your nylon sofas is applying white vinegar on stains. Just dip a rag in some vinegar and water and dab at the stain until it comes out. You can also apply some liquid laundry detergent to clean tough stains that won’t come off easily with just water or vinegar alone.


The first thing to keep in mind is that wool is a delicate fabric. If you have a wool sofa, you should avoid getting it excessively wet or using harsh chemicals on it. 

The best way to clean wool is with dry cleaning products, which are available at most home goods stores. Follow the instructions on the container and use the right amount of product.


Linen is a durable fabric with many desirable qualities. It’s resistant to dirt and stains.

In addition to its durability, linen is an attractive fabric with a beautiful texture and comes in a wide variety of modern color options.

Unfortunately, the fabric’s main flaw is its vulnerability to sunlight, humidity, and water. A linen sofa placed in direct sunlight will fade over time just like any other natural fiber such as cotton or wool. 

Linen does not wear well in wet conditions as it absorbs moisture easily and takes longer to dry than other fabrics. The material also wrinkles at a high rate when exposed to humidity—not ideal for humid climates.

For cleaning linen, a mild detergent dissolved in lukewarm water works well. Avoid using too much detergent. 


Hemp is a natural fiber that looks like linen or cotton fabric. Hemp is strong, durable, and can be used for indoor or outdoor furniture. Hemp is not a very common fabric for sofas, but it is a popular fabric choice for clothing. Hemp wears really well and will last many years with proper cleaning techniques. 

To clean hemp sofa upholstery, you should vacuum the surface regularly with the soft brush attachment to remove any loose dirt or debris. You may also spot clean the sofa with hot water and detergent or baking soda if you have tough stains on the hemp sofa upholstery.

How Often Should You Clean Your Sofa?

The frequency at which you need to clean your sofa depends on the type of fabric it’s made of. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Cotton: Cotton is a durable and resilient material, but it can still stain easily. Most companies recommend cleaning cotton upholstery every three months or when stains appear.
  • Wool: With wool, you want to ensure that you’re cleaning it regularly enough that the fabric doesn’t dry out. It’s recommended to clean wool couches on average every six months or when stains appear.
  • Leather: Leather needs to be cleaned once or twice a year and with great care, as harsh detergents can ruin its finish.

In addition to these deep cleans, everyone should do a basic clean every month by vacuuming their upholstered furniture, including underneath cushions and in crevices between cushions (if possible). 


If you’re looking for an easy way to keep your beloved furniture in tip-top shape, keep these handy tips in mind:

  • No matter what style of sofa you have, whether it’s a sleek leather loveseat or a fluffy microfiber sectional, do not use too much water when cleaning it.
  • Only apply as much cleaner as is necessary to clean your sofa. Too much cleaner can make the problem worse.

That’s it. I hope this article was helpful to you.

If you want to read more DIY, read my article on how to remove pet hair from carpets using baking soda.

Thank you for reading.

-Baking Soda Guy

Photo by Max Vakhtbovych from Pexels