How To Clean A Fabric Sofa With Vinegar In 9 Simple Steps

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If you want to learn how to clean a fabric sofa with vinegar, all it takes is nine simple steps. In this article, learn how to make your own DIY couch cleaner spray with cheap ingredients that remove stains and odors naturally.

Table Of Contents

How To Clean Furniture Fabric: Things You’ll Need

Here’s what you’ll need to clean your couch with vinegar:

  • White vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Water
  • Liquid soap
  • Vacuum
  • White cloth or paper towels

Before You Start, Check The Fabric Upholstery Cleaning Codes

  • S code: solvent-based cleaner (dry clean only)
  • W code: water-based cleaner only for this fabric
  • W/S code: water-based cleaner, including vinegar.
  • X code: vacuum or brush clean only; no water- or solvent-based cleaners
Example of an upholstery cleaning code for a fabric sofa

What If The Sofa Fabric Has No Cleaning Code?

The safest thing to do if your fabric sofa doesn’t have a cleaning code is to get a professional cleaner to do the cleaning.

You can also try calling the manufacturer to see if they have any info on your couch’s upholstery cleaning code.

If neither of those options works, you can still clean your couch yourself by first testing a hidden part of the couch with a cleaning solution. Using that solution should be fine if it doesn’t damage the spot after a day.

Yellow couch and cushions

How To Clean Fabric Sofa With Vinegar: The 9 Steps

Step 1: Fill Spray Bottle With 1 Cup (240 Ml) Warm Water

Water dissolves dirt and odors, making them easier to sweep away. You can also use club soda, but bubbles may form if you do so.

Step 2: Mix 1/2 Cup (120 Ml) White Vinegar Into Spray Bottle

To avoid spills, use a funnel. Vinegar is a mild acid that neutralizes odors and breaks down dirt. You can buy white vinegar at your local grocery or online.

Step 3: Add 1/2 Tablespoon (7.4 Ml) Liquid Soap To Solution

You can use natural soap or dish detergent; you only need a small amount to help remove grease and grime. To avoid bubbles, stir gently with a tool like a straw or slowly swirl the spray bottle. If you want to avoid fragrances, use a natural liquid soap.

Step 4: Remove Sofa Slipcovers

If your couch has slipcovers, remove and wash them separately. Slipcovers are fitted protective covers that you remove by unzipping them. Check the cushion seams for a zipper to see if your sofa has slipcovers. Wash slipcovers in the washing machine using a warm, gentle cycle. Let the slipcovers air dry.

Step 5: Vacuum Sofa To Remove Loose Dirt And Debris

Use a vacuum to remove dust, debris, dirt, and crumbs. Don’t skip this step before cleaning with vinegar; you could embed the loose debris deep into the upholstery. Remove the cushions to reach the sofa cracks, and use vacuum extensions to clean out the hard-to-reach spots.

Step 6: Blot Wet Stains With Paper Towel

Use a paper towel to blot any wet stains on your couch. Removing excess liquid from the stain makes it easier for the vinegar to do its job.

Step 7: Use Vinegar Sofa Spray Cleaner

If you’re spot-cleaning, focus on the stain you’re targeting. If you’re cleaning the whole couch, lightly spray the entire sofa. Don’t soak the sofa — the upholstery should feel damp, not wet. Allow the solution to sit on the fabric for several minutes.

Step 8: Blot With Cloth Or Paper Towel

Use a paper towel or clean white cloth to blot the area gently. If the stain still hasn’t lifted, spray and blot again. Repeat until dirt, stains, and odors are gone. Don’t scrub the fabric because that can discolor the fabric and distort its texture.

Step 9: Allow Sofa To Air Dry

After drying, the odor should be gone, and your sofa should look much cleaner. Repeat this process whenever your fabric sofa needs a freshening up. To speed up drying, vacuum or use a shop vacuum on the fabric. After you’re done cleaning, there may still be a vinegar smell, but don’t worry; this will go away. Keep any extra solution in the spray bottle for future use as an emergency cleaner and stain remover.

How To Clean Couch With Baking Soda And Vinegar

You can use the vinegar method I described above to clean a fabric couch, or you can use a combination of vinegar and baking soda. 

Sprinkling baking soda on a couch

Cleaning a Couch Naturally: How To Clean A Fabric Sofa With Baking Soda

What you need:

  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Warm water
  • Liquid soap
  • Clean white cloth or paper towels

Here are the steps to clean your couch with a baking soda-and-vinegar fabric sofa cleaner:

  1. First, vacuum the couch. 
  2. Then sprinkle baking soda over the entire couch and let it sit for 20-60 minutes. (This helps remove odors and break up stains.) 
  3. Next, vacuum the couch a second time to remove the baking soda.
  4. Mix one tablespoon white vinegar, one teaspoon liquid dish soap, and one cup warm water. Mix this and then add one more teaspoon baking soda. Mix the solution a final time. Screw the top of the bottle shut quickly (or leave extra room in the bottle) because combining baking soda and vinegar creates a lot of bubbles.
  5. Spray a clean white cloth or paper towel with your sofa cleaner spray and blot the stains.
  6. Let the upholstery dry.

How To Clean Leather Sofa With White Vinegar

  1. Combine 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup vinegar in a spray bottle.
  2. Spray the cleaner onto the leather couch.
  3. Gently buff the leather sofa with a soft, clean cloth (ideally a microfiber cloth).
leather sofa

How To Clean Sofa Arms

You can use the same methods to clean couch arms as the rest of the couch. Either of the techniques I described above will work.

Does Vinegar Get Stains Out?

Yes, vinegar gets stains out — especially tough ones like grease or oil. Use the second recipe for couch cleaning spray above (the one with baking soda and vinegar because baking soda gives the solution an extra oomph for removing stains).

Will Vinegar Stain Couch?

White vinegar is excellent at removing stains, but other types of vinegar aren’t. In fact, red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar will stain your sofa.

Can I Spray Vinegar On My Couch?

You shouldn’t spray undiluted vinegar on a sofa because it has a strong smell, so it’s best to cut the vinegar with something else to dilute it. Mixing vinegar, water, and liquid soap will do the trick.

Do You Have To Rinse After Cleaning With Vinegar?

Nope, rinsing your fabric sofa after cleaning it with vinegar isn’t necessary. Don’t soak the couch while you’re cleaning it, and it’ll be fine.

Is Vinegar Safe On Skin?

According to the research paper “Acetic acid and the skin: a review of vinegar in dermatology,” published in The International Journal of Dermatology in July 2022, you can use vinegar as a “treatment for skin disease.” So vinegar is safe on the skin, especially if you dilute it.

White Vinegar Vs Distilled Vinegar

What’s the difference between white vinegar and distilled vinegar? White vinegar has 5-20% acetic acid. By contrast, distilled vinegar has 5-8% acetic acid. You can use both white and distilled vinegar for cleaning, but white vinegar is a stronger cleaner and disinfectant.

Does Baking Soda Ruin Your Vacuum?

If baking soda accumulates in your vacuum, it can damage the vacuum. So after you’re done vacuuming baking soda off your couch, change the bag or empty the canister and clean the filter (if it has a removable filter).

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Lucy Henderson is a Seattle-based home décor expert and creator of Palladio Interiors. She loves writing about design trends, home-interior inspiration, and home-decorating tips. She's a fan of coziness and simplicity.