How to Clean a White Couch (It’s Possible!)

With tips and tricks from the pros, we show you how to clean a white couch, including several options for cleaning both leather and fabric sofas.

You love your white couch. But one day when you get home, you find a big, noticeable stain on it. Your eldest child tells you the last-born spilled juice on the cushions. You sigh and wonder how you’ll ever get the stain out.

Thankfully, there’s hope. Even if you have three or four children and two dogs, you can clean your white couch from most spills and stains. 

With tips and tricks from the pros, we show you how to clean a white couch, including several options for cleaning both leather and fabric sofas.  


How to clean a white couch

Your white couch can quickly get dirty due to spills and stains from food and drinks, pet hair and dander, dirt and debris, and body oils. The good news is that you can clean it with the right tools and methods. 

The way to clean your couch depends on the fabric it’s made of, because different materials have different cleaning requirements. 

For example, a white microfiber couch requires a different cleaning solution than a leather couch, whereas with a fabric couch, you can easily use a fabric cleaner or a mixture of water and mild detergent.

So how can you make your couch white again? That’s the million-dollar question. The first step after determining the fabric of your couch is to spot clean immediately, being careful not to rub the stain deeper. Next, follow any of the cleaning methods in this article based on your white couch fabric type.

How to clean a white leather couch

Before you start cleaning your white leather couch, evaluate the stain to determine how bad it is and what supplies you’ll need. If it’s just a small scuff, you can simply use a microfiber cloth to wipe it down. More severe stains need a bit of effort.  

Here are two methods for cleaning your white leather couch, and the supplies you’ll need for each.

What you’ll need

  • Microfiber cloth
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Dish soap
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Spray bottle

Method 1: Dish soap (for basic stains)

This method effectively removes dirt, grime, and basic stains on your white leather sofa without damaging the fabric. However, as always, we advise testing on a small, inconspicuous area of the couch first to ensure it doesn't cause discoloration or other adverse effects.

Dust and vacuum the couch

Use a soft brush vacuum attachment to protect the fabric and avoid embedding any loose dirt or debris. Pay special attention to cracks, crevices, and corners while cleaning, as dirt and debris easily accumulate in these areas. 

Prepare your cleaning solution

Mix a few squirts of dish soap in warm water and stir until completely dissolved. Dip a microfiber cloth into the cleaning solution and wring it out so it’s damp but not dripping wet. 

Don’t overwet your leather couch; this can cause discoloration.

Wipe down the leather couch

Gently wipe down the leather, being careful not to apply too much pressure. At intervals, dip the cloth in the solution and wring it till it’s damp. This is so that you don’t transfer dirt and stains from one side to another.

Rinse with a fresh cloth

Dampen a fresh cloth with clean water and use it to wipe off any leftover cleaning product. Leaving soap on the leather can attract dirt and cause it to become dull over time.

Air dry

Use a dry cloth to remove any moisture and prevent damage, then allow the leather sofa to air dry completely. 

Method 2: White vinegar (for tough stains)

If you notice stubborn stains on your couch after using the dish soap and water solution, this method will help you target and eliminate them. 

Vinegar is a versatile and natural cleaning agent. It’s effective to remove stains from leather, get coffee stains out of your carpet, cleaning upholstered chairs, and so much more.

  • Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle 
  • Spray the cleaning solution on a discrete area of the white leather sofa to patch test 
  • Spray the stain generously and scrub it with a soft-bristled brush in a circular motion
  • Moisten a cloth with water and wipe the sofa clean to remove the vinegar residue
  • Use a dry cloth to remove any remaining moisture to prevent damage.
  • Allow the leather to air dry completely 

How to clean a white fabric couch

If your white couch is made of fabric, you’ll take a slightly different approach to cleaning it. 

What you’ll need

  • Vacuum cleaner or upholstery brush
  • Microfiber clothes
  • Soft towels
  • Mild laundry detergent
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar

Method 1: Mild detergent and water

Many marks and areas of dirt can be cleaned off your white fabric sofa with a simple mixture of detergent and water. Here’s how it’s done.

Vacuum the couch

Begin by using a vacuum cleaner to remove any dirt, debris, or pet hair from the couch's surface. Be sure to vacuum thoroughly, paying close attention to seams and crevices where dirt and debris can accumulate.

Mix a cleaning solution

Mix a solution of equal parts warm water and mild detergent in a bucket. Stir the solution until it lathers.

Clean the fabric couch with the solution

Dip a microfiber cloth into the cleaning solution and wring out the excess water. Gently scrub the couch’s surface, being careful not to soak the fabric. Work in small sections, rinsing the sponge or cloth as needed and replacing the cleaning solution if it becomes too dirty.

Rinse the couch

Once you have finished cleaning the couch, dampen a fresh cloth with clean water, then use the dampened cloth to thoroughly wipe the couch’s fabric, removing any leftover cleaning product.

Dry the couch

Use a soft, clean towel to blot the couch dry, being careful not to rub the fabric as this can cause it to become discolored or damaged. Leave the sofa to air dry completely before using it again.

Method 2: Baking soda

Baking soda is an excellent choice for removing more stubborn stains. Because it has deodorizing properties, it’s also a great way to freshen the fabric on your couch. 

  • Brush the entire sofa with a stiff brush to remove debris and grime and lift stains to the surface 
  • Remove the gathered debris with a hand-held vacuum
  • Sprinkle baking soda over the couch and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes 
  • With a microfiber cloth, gently rub the baking soda into the stain
  • Use a brush attachment to vacuum up any leftover baking soda

How to keep a white couch clean in the first place

The easiest way to keep your white sofa clean in the first place is to establish a regular cleaning schedule. If you have kids or pets, get a washable slipcover you can easily throw in the washing machine, treat your couch’s fabric with a stain guard, or do both.

Blot and spot-clean stains immediately after they happen to prevent them from setting. Also, avoid rubbing the stain since doing so will cause it to sink deeper into the couch’s fabric. Lastly, even though rules aren’t fun, lay a ground rule prohibiting eating or drinking on the white couch.

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