White couches are as timeless as they are gorgeous— they never go out of style and they impart a bright, crisp, clean look in a living room, sun room or den. The problem? If your couch is in a room that gets a lot of use, unexpected spills, stains and oops! moments happen more often than you’d like. And with white couches, a knocked-over glass of wine or cup of juice is a mayday situation. How do you clean it? Should you use a specific type of cleaner? Is your lovely sofa ruined? We tapped home and cleaning pros for their easiest and most effective tricks for cleaning a white couch. Keep reading for their surprisingly easy — and effective — strategies!
Note: Before treating a white couch with any stain remover, it’s always a good idea to test it on a small area of the couch first to ensure it doesn’t cause any discoloration.
To mop up wet stains, act quickly
Uh oh! You’ve just spilled juice on the arm of your white couch. Speed is pivotal when it comes to liquid spills. Step one: Immediately use a clean dry cloth or paper towel to soak up as much of the liquid as you can. Be sure to blot the stain steadily and avoid rubbing as this could spread the stain out or even allow it to penetrate deeper in the fabric.
After you’re done blotting, your next move is to remove the stain. Mathew Morris, founder of Go Cleaners London, advises whipping up a simple cleaning solution using around the house ingredients. “Just mix equal parts water and mild liquid dish detergent. Dampen a clean cloth with this solution and gently blot the stain, working from the outer edges towards the center. Rinse the cloth frequently and repeat until the stain fades.”
Removable slipcover? Try this
If your couch has a removable slipcover, it’s easier to clean, says Becky Rapinchuk, author of Clean Mama’s Guide to Healthy Home and founder of Clean Mama. “If the stain is still there and the cover is washable, remove and spray with a cleaner like Folex (Buy from Amazon, $6.65), launder and air-dry.”
Folex is an instant spot remover that’s considered a holy grail cleaning product for light-colored upholstery and carpets with more than 100 million views on TikTok and 60,000 5-star reviews on Amazon. Here’s a TikTok that reveals how it works on carpets:
“Oxygen Whitener is also a great stain remover and whitener if you are able to launder the cover,” adds Rapinchuk. One to try: Molly’s Suds Oxygen Whitener (Buy from Amazon, $14.99).
To eliminate dried-on stains, grab a spoon
“Dry stains on a white couch require a slightly different approach,” says Morris. His method: “Start by gently scraping off any dried residue using a soft brush or a spoon. Be careful not to scratch the fabric while doing this.” (Rapinchuk says a credit card works as an excellent “scraper,” too!)
“After scraping it all off, I recommend treating dry stains by using a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water,” says Morris. “Dampen a clean cloth with this solution and dab at the stain, again starting from the outer edges and working your way inward.”
To erase wine stains, reach for salt
When it comes to deep-colored stains, experts recommend sprinkling salt onto wine stains to help remove the color. To do: Dilute 4 tablespoons of salt in 1 quart of hot water, then dip a washcloth in the liquid and gently scrub the spots until they disappear. The sodium will break down pigments in the wine.
To sop up oil stains, opt for cornstarch
If. you’re dealing with oil stains or any greasy food residue, sprinkle cornstarch over the entire stain and let sit for about 30 minutes. Afterward, vacuum up the cornstarch. Repeat if needed. Bonus: Cornstarch also soaks up odors.
To make coffee stains disappear, try hydrogen peroxide
If you or a loved one spill coffee on your white couch, soak a clean cloth with 3% hydrogen peroxide and use to dab the spot. The hydrogen peroxide will release oxygen to loosen the bond between the pigments and the fabric fibers, leaving your cushions looking as good as new.
To remove dust, use a dryer sheet
“You can use a dryer sheet to clean couches,” says Leanne Stapf, of The Cleaning Authority. “The static electricity in the sheet holds onto dust, pet hair and dirt.”
To eliminate odors, sprinkle on baking soda
If your white couch smells a bit off, sprinkle baking soda evenly all over the couch and on both sides of the cushions. Then gently work it into the material with a soft bristled brush going with the grain of the couch. Let the baking soda sit for up to an hour to fully absorb (can sit longer if the couch has a strong odor). Vacuum baking soda up with a small handheld vacuum.
The cleaning cloth that makes all the difference!
Microfiber cleaning cloths (Buy from Amazon, $6.99 for pack of 12) are made of polyester and nylon and they’re highly effective at eradicating dirt and grime. And they can be used on your couch! Simply add your cleaning agents to the cloth and blot for a thorough stain treatment.
What is the best way to keep your white couch clean?
When we asked the pros for the best cleaning routine for white couches, they agreed that prevention and upkeep are key to a pristine sofa. If your couch has slipcovers, Nathaly Vieira, founder of Inspire Clean, suggests washing them at least once a month. “I also recommend rotating and flipping cushions to ensure even wear and tear and prevent the couch from becoming misshapen,” she says.
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