The microfiber sofa in our living room has seen better days, but I'm not letting it go without a fight! I bought the sofa about six years ago when I moved into my first solo apartment. It's super comfy and I love the simple, but sophisticated design.
The big problem is the color... I love the super light tan, but it shows every little bit of dirt that touches it. Not too practical for our 60 pound furry friend! Calvin doesn't shed at all, but he does tromp in dirt from the yard. He's also turned the couch into his own personal napkin and loves to rub his face along the front edge to dry off after taking a drink.
After a while, the front of the cushions look like this (gross, I know):
While microfiber is stain resistant, it can be a real challenge to clean because it's a polyester-based material so water will leave a permanent mark when it dries. That means most carpet and upholstery cleaners won't work.
We almost got rid of the couch before we moved because it had gotten so nasty, but after piecing together a few tricks from the magical internet, I tried one more last-ditch effort to clean it and it worked! Here's the scoop...
Step 1: Vacuum with a brush attachment to remove any hair/crumbs/etc
Step 2: Spray rubbing alcohol onto the dirty area
This sounds a bit crazy, but it's key. The alcohol won't saturate the fabric and evaporates much quicker than water so it won't leave a mark. Just test in an inconspicuous spot if you're worried about colorfastness.
Step 3: Rub vigorously with a clean scrub sponge
Make sure the scrubbing surface is white or the color could transfer.
Plus you'll be able to see all the grime coming off your furniture. Be prepared to be grossed out (and secretly thrilled) - this sponge was white before!
Step 4: Let the area dry completely
The fabric may look stiff or dark in places, but the next step will take care of that.
Step 5: Rub with a clean, soft scrub brush in a circular motion
Again, be sure to use a brush with white bristles to avoid discoloration. This step fluffs up the surface of the fabric to make it soft again.
That's it... very simple, but effective! Check out the before and after...
Eventually we'll still need a more Calvin-friendly replacement, but this method will help keep my beloved sofa looking much cleaner in the meantime.
Wow! I can't believe how much this post has taken off (thanks to Pinterest). According to my Blogger stats, this page has gotten over 800,000 hits, which is just nuts. Since it's gotten really hard to keep up with all the comments with a new baby at home, here's some more info and a hopefully helpful FAQ.
First, thanks to the many commenters who have recommended zipping the covers off the cushions and machine washing them. I still use the alcohol method for cleaning the sofa frame and arms and spot cleaning, but have started washing the covers in the machine when I'm lazy or we have a major mishap (i.e. projectile baby spit up situation). There seem to be many different methods to the machine washing madness, but what's worked for me is to wash them on warm with my normal detergent (Tide Total Care) and dry on medium heat before zipping them back on. Works great!
Please note... while almost all commenters have seen great results from the rubbing alcohol method, some have been disappointed. There seem to be mixed results with red sofas. Also, one commenter said it seemed to make the stains on the arms of her sofa worse then she figured out it was pulling up deep stains from the padding under the surface so she let it dry then pinched the fabric away from the padding while cleaning, which helped. (Thanks for the tip Kelly!)
PLEASE PLEASE be sure to test a small area before attacking your entire couch as different colors and types of microfiber may react differently.
FAQ's about the alcohol method:
Q: Does the rubbing alcohol leave a smell?
A: No. Although it smells while you're doing it (be sure you have proper ventilation), I've never noticed a smell after it dries.
Q: What kind of sponge and brush do you use?
A: The pink and white sponge above is Scotch brand and my scrub brush is Clorox brand, both from Target. While I prefer the white sponges, may people have had luck with the standard green and yellow scrub sponges and one lady said a white washcloth worked for her.
Q: Which side of the sponge do you use?
A: The scrubby side (not the spongy side)
Q: Do you wet the sponge before scrubbing?
A: No. Spray the alcohol then rub with a dry sponge to remove the dirt and oil.
Q: What percent alcohol do you use? Do you dilute it?
A: Just the standard drugstore stuff... don't dilute it. It works because evaporates so quickly.
Q: Does this get rid of odors on/in furniture too?
A: Removing the stains should help alleviate suface smells from pets, kids, etc too, but probably won't get rid of any deep odors like cigarette smoke.