By Teri Olcott
Microfiber is a synthetic material that looks like expensive designer suede or leather. It is well suited for couches and chairs, and although quite durable, it can get stained and dirty over time. Cleaning your microfiber furniture is not hard, but you will need a few household items to clean it correctly and not make the stain worse.
Find the Tag
Before you tackle the stain, you'll need to find out what kind of microfiber couch or chair you have. If you are lucky, there should be a manufacturer’s tag somewhere on the furniture that has care instructions and a cleaning code on it. Look under cushions and on the back or bottom of the furniture for a tag. If you can’t flip your couch over, use a flashlight to look underneath for any signs of a tag. If you cannot find a tag, assume your furniture will need to be cleaned with a solvent of some kind and not water. Water can leave rings on some microfiber and actually make it look worse.
Should you find a tag, it will contain one of four possible cleaning codes:
- “S” means you must use a water-free solvent cleaner.
- “S/W” means you can use either a water-free or water-based cleaner.
- “W” means you must use a water-based cleaner.
“X” means vacuum only. You cannot use any kind of cleaner on the fabric. You'll need to consult an upholstery expert to remove any stains or have your couch or chair professionally cleaned.
Most couches and chairs are labeled “S” and if you cannot find a tag, assume the fabric requires a water-free cleaner.
If you can clean your couch with a water-based cleaner, use a solution that includes mild dish detergent, carpet cleaner, or upholstery shampoo.
Water-free solvents include rubbing alcohol, dry-cleaning solvent, baby wipes, and oxygenating (Oxy) solutions that don’t contain bleach. You can also use clear alcohol such as vodka or gin.
Using the soft brush attachment on your vacuum, go over your entire couch to remove dust and loose dirt. It is a good idea to vacuum your couch or chair at least once a week.
Clean Your Microfiber Furniture
Before you spray the stained area, test the cleaning solution on an inconspicuous spot such as under a cushion or the back of the couch. Spray or pour a small amount of the cleaning solution onto a clean cloth or sponge and gently scrub the area. Wait for the fabric to thoroughly dry and check for any changes in color or damage to the fabric. If all looks well, proceed with cleaning the stained area.
Whether using a water-based or solvent-based cleaner, the procedure is the same. If using rubbing alcohol, rob a spray top from another product and screw it onto the top of a bottle of rubbing alcohol. Be sure to remove any former cleaning product from the spray top before placing it in the alcohol.
Lightly spray the stained area of the couch or chair with your chosen cleaner.
The fabric will turn dark. Don’t worry. It will lighten as it dries.
Use a light colored, clean cloth or sponge to gently rub the stain. You should see dirt on the cloth. Let the spot dry completely before sitting on the couch or chair. It may take several hours.
Although the area should dry with no water rings, you can use a hair dryer to hasten the drying process. Use the coolest setting and hold the hair dryer about six inches from the wet spot until it is completely dry. You can also place a small fan in front of the couch to help speed up the drying time.
Fluff it Up
After cleaning the stained area, the microfiber material may feel stiff.
Use a dry, soft-bristled brush or the rough side of a cleaning sponge to fluff up the fibers and make them soft again.
The stains on your microfiber couch or chair should now be gone or hardly noticeable. If you can see an outline of the area you sprayed, spray it lightly again and use a hair dryer to help the cleaner evaporate quickly. Water and liquid on microfiber suede can leave a ring stain behind. Be sure to blot up any water or drool from pets and babies as soon as it happens to prevent water stains.
Now that your couch is clean again, feel free to invite friends over without having to be embarrassed about stains on your microfiber furniture. And should a spill occur, keep that spray bottle handy.
Images used with permission, courtesy of Teri Olcott and www.shutterstock.com