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Ever wondered how I keep my living room fabric couch clean with four little kids? Today I’m spilling all my secrets! This thorough cleaning method is easy and effective.

Over the past ten years we’ve had 4 couches – two in the living room, one in the basement, and one smaller one in our old house. The truth is, with only a handful amount of products and a little effort you can keep your sofas looking brand new for years.

Let’s get into this step-by-step guide!

living room with a clean white sectional couch.

How to Clean a Fabric Couch

I’ve always loved the look of light, airy couches in soft, gentle colors but that inevitably means with children there will be spills, messes, and stains. Even if you don’t have kids, a piece of furniture like a couch is a big investment. You want to maintain the quality and keep it clean for as long as possible!

I knew there had to be a way to keep my couches in top tip condition and thankfully I’ve found the perfect method. I’ve been using this exact strategy for years now and it works wonders every time. The good news is with a few simple steps, cleaning agents, and regular cleaning this process couldn’t be easier.

Use Your Washing Machine

I always buy couches with zip off cushion covers and a W or WS cleaning couch. The W means water (and S means solvent), which means you can safely pop the fabric in the washing machine or using a upholstery cleaner, which I’ll talk about in the next section.

Now – one caveat. Putting your covers in the washing machine will probably void the warranty. But I’ve done this for YEARS and I’ve never had an issue with the covers. I close the zips before putting them into the washing machine, run a delicate cycle and them pop them into the dryer on low heat.

Being able to put the covers into the washing machine instead of having to clean them manually has saved me so much time and effort, and they still look brand new.

I do this around once every 6-9 months, depending on how dirty they’re getting.

Little Green Bissell

The star of the show is this upholstery cleaner. It is the cleaning tool EVERYONE needs. It’s portable, lightweight, and truly gets the job done, even with tough stains. I use my Little Green Bissell constantly and couldn’t imagine keeping soft furnishings clean without it.

It’s the best $100 you’ll ever spend. I have the Proheat version, only because the regular one was out of stock the day I needed it. The Proheat one keeps the water hot, but the regular version works just as well and it’s cheaper.

Bissell Little Green upholstery cleaner.

The best way to use the Bissell Little Green Cleaner on a couch to clean stains is to start by vacuuming to remove loose dirt and debris (think pet hair, snacks crumbs, etc.). The vacuum cleaner has a great suction so this step shouldn’t take too long. You can use a lint roller too if you wish.

Author cleaning the fabric couch with the Bissell Little Green.

Attach the desired cleaning tool (it comes with a few different upholstery attachment options). Plug in the cleaner, turn it on, and begin cleaning the entire sofa by pressing the trigger to release the cleaning solution while scrubbing the fabric gently. Work in small sections, moving gently to cover the entire couch, then suction up the solution.

Once the couch is clean, spend time suctioning up any excess water. You don’t want a soaking wet couch or you’ll be left with water stains.

Jenna’s Tip

Focus your efforts on areas that get the most grime – usually armrests are the dirtiest spots followed by the actual couch cushions themselves.

Folex Carpet Spot Remover

For spot cleaning or more difficult stains, my trusty bottle of Folex saves the day. It’s one of the best cleaning products out there! This spray bottle will help you remove deep set stains that nothing else seems to work on.

Bottle of Folex stain remover.

Spray the Folex solution directly onto the stain, and agitate with a microber cloth. Then just blot dry! The best part? No rinsing required. If you’ve got coffee spills, chocolate stains, pet stains, dirt, or any other spots on your couch that need a quick clean this is your go to product. You can target stained areas super quickly and efficiently with a clean cloth paired with a couple of sprays of Folex.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve used this in between deep cleans to maintain the appearance (let’s be honst, with 4 little kids it gets used a couple of times a week!!). It’s just such an easy stain remover to have on hand.

NOTE: If you’re using the Folex in conjunction with the Bissell, I would use the Folex first and then follow with the Bissell.

Fabric Shaver

Pilling can happen no matter what type of material is on your sofa. Even the high end, expensive couches with different fabrics can eventually start to pill. Not to mention the dust bunnies that will collect and get stuck to the fibers on the sofa.

When your sofa starts to pill, a great way to fix is to just run a fabric shaver over it! It is such a handy device to have, pretty inexpensive to obtain, and works wonders. This will instantly improve the look of your couch!

Fabric shaver removing pills from a couch cushion.

By the way, the one in the photos broke, this fabric shaver that I recently got is so much better!.

Using a circular motion, lightly rub the blades against the fabric of your couch. Then, watch the fuzz and pilling disappear. It’s VERY satisfying to see those little pills disappear before your eyes!

Stain-Guard Protective Spray

The final step? Spray with TriNova Non-Aerosol Stain Guard Fabric Protection. I use this product to protect my furniture because it doesn’t have the crazy strong smell that Scotchguard does (but if the smell doesn’t bother you, go for it!).

It couldn’t be easier to use, too. Simply spray it on the couch first thing and let dry. If your sofa fabric surfaces are protected with this product, a spill will sit on the surface of your couch, rug, carpet, or clothes long enough to be blotted up before it becomes one of those stubborn stains.

Final Thoughts

No matter the type of fabric, your couch will eventually need some attention to maintain the fresh, clean look. This cleaning method has worked for me for years to keep my couches in amazing condition. Grab a bottle of Stain-Guard Protective Spray, Folex, and your Little Green Bissell and get to work on reviving those couches! Finish it off with a run of the fabric shaver for a polished look.

Now, do you believe me when I told you light colored couches can stay clean, even with small children running around?

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