Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How to Remove Water Stains from Microfiber

I have tried multiple times in the past to get the water stains out of my microfiber couch.  I have never had success.  Until today.

I am 34 weeks pregnant and in serious nesting mode.  Today I was vacuuming my couch, just to satisfy a bee in my bonnet, and the stains were bothering me SO much.  They needed to be fixed.  Right then.

So I went back to Google.  I found old posts that I had pinned on pinterest in the past and not had luck with.  It seemed like there was nothing out there that I hadn't tried.  So I decided to try those same things, again.  Maybe I just needed to be more determined like I was this time.

This is what I was starting with.  I am embarrassed to even post these "before" pictures.

They were so disgusting.  But you need to see how terrible they were to start to appreciate the "after" picture.

So I started with the first set of tips that I had tried before.  I sprayed the stains with rubbing alcohol, wiped at them with a rag to try to spread out the ring around the edge, and then let them dry.  It was terrible.  I just had new stains on top of the old stains.  Every spot I had sprayed just left a new ring.  That's what had happened last time I had attempted this, and that's when I had thrown in the towel on our couches.

But then I found a tip on another website to blow dry the cushions after cleaning them to speed up the drying process and reduce the chances of getting a ring.  Ah ha!  I decided to try that.  So I sprayed the entire cushion pretty soaked with straight rubbing alcohol.  I didn't want any of the sprays to leave new rings, so I sprayed the entire thing.  Then, instead of using a lame-o rag that hadn't done anything, I used a fingernail brush (a potato brush would work too) and scrubbed that cushion, paying special attention to areas that had rings.  When I was done, I used my hair dryer and dried the whole thing.  This is how it looked:

It was definitely an improvement.  But I wanted it to look better.  I could still see some stubborn stains.  I wanted to be really wowed by the results. So I tried another tip I found on google.  Some people said that using baby wipes worked like a charm.  So I scrubbed the entire cushion with baby wipes.  It took a lot of baby wipes, because they kind of dried out pretty fast.  They didn't really get up a lot of dirt, but they moistened the whole cushion.  I scrubbed particularly hard where the water stains were.  Then I blew the whole thing dry.  This is how it looked:

I was pretty impressed.  Especially when I compared the clean cushion to the dirty cushion beside it. 

So I wondered... was it the combination of the two methods that worked, or was it just the baby wipes?  So I moved onto my next cushion.  This time, I did just baby wipes all over the entire thing.  Blew it dry.  This was how it looked:

Again, an improvement, but I felt like I could do better.  There were still some stubborn stains.  So I did my rubbing alcohol and fingernail brush over the top.  It looked great.  Especially next to the last dirty cushion. 

So on my third and last cushion, I got the perfect combination.  And THIS, my friends, is how I managed to successfully clean the water stains off of my couch:
  1. If you have removable couch cushion covers, take them off and wash them in your washing machine.  Then you won't have to do any of this.  Some people don't even realize this is an option.
  2. Vacuum your couch free of dirt and debris.
  3. Spray one area of your couch with rubbing alcohol.  Work in small-ish areas so you can dry it before it starts drying on its own.  I did half of a cushion at a time.  Get the entire area equally wet with your rubbing alcohol.  It smells, but it will fade when it dries.
  4. Scrub the entire wet area with a fingernail or potato brush, really focusing on the areas where you can see water stains.  Approach the stains from different angles rather than just brushing along the same straight line for the whole cushion.  I would scrub from different angles and then brush it all smooth to see if I could still see the lines of the water ring.  If I could, I would keep scrubbing until they had faded.  If I couldn't I moved on to the next spot.
  5. Using baby wipes, wipe the entire area.  My baby wipes turned brown pretty fast.  But when I used just baby wipes first, or when I dried in between the alcohol step and the baby wipe step, my wipes didn't really get that much dirt.  Using it directly on the cushion that was freshly scrubbed really got off a lot of the grime, especially along the edges.
  6. Blow dry the area to help it dry evenly.
  7. Repeat if needed.  I had a few stains that were really stubborn, but usually the second time through, they came totally clean.
  8. Continue, working through areas of the couch until you have covered them all.  
  9. Step back and enjoy the fact that your couch almost looks brand new. 

One last time, here is the before and after.  Holy cow.
Happy cleaning!


Eric Jones said...

No one else may have left a comment but I am a furniture repair tech that made the awful mistake of doing a water extraction on a microfiber couch just to get a call the next morning about the rings that had appeared. Hopefully these tips qill save me and I will have a happy customer. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Worked well. Thanks.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I'm totally excited to find this and give it a shot! I was about to toss these couches and am SO happy to have a "second chance" :)

Anonymous said...

Has anyone else thrown them in the wash? I am nervous about doing that thinking they may end up worse. I'm wondering (respectfully) how the writer knows this will work just as well... maybe a relative tried it or something? Also concerned that they'll come out a different color than the rest of the couch (after they are clean!). Any responses would be super appreciated!

Anonymous said...

Did this... the baby wipes were SO gross! had no idea my couch was so dirty! ha. But it looks great now. Thanks for the tutorial! P.S. I did put them in the wash first, since that was an option, but the arms still needed work and there were stubborn stains on the ones still that were washed. Very effective treatment!

Marie L said...

I use to have a brown microfiber couches with removable cushions, I was them lots n lots. Cold water and gain detergent. Also add a cup of greese lightning gets out all the tough stains

Jesi said...

I wash my removable cushion covers. After removing them from the dryer, they always look brand new. I will try this next on the back cushions that I can't remove. Thanks!

McKlaire Goodman said...

Worked like a charm! Amazing, feels great to do it myself instead of paying someone to do it! Thanks

Madame Rose said...

I have to thank you for including step 1. It seems obvious, but I had never checked for zippers. I was about to do all 9 steps (had tried steps 3 and 4 with limited success in the past), and I discovered the zippers! I washed the covers on a short cycle in cold water with regular detergent and then dried them on a delicate setting. They are now completely clean!

Anonymous said...

I am so excited to potentially have a solution to these stupid water rings. My toddler son is forever throwing himself open-mouth-first around on the couch, plus leaking sippy cups and various other spills. My cushions like exactly like your before. I really hope it works for me too!

Anonymous said...

I also have to say thank you so much for this post!! I was just about to throw my couch out, but this worked so well. You saved me so much money!! Thank you, thank you!!

Anonymous said...

This worked so well on my cushions that don't have removable covers, thank you!

Anonymous said...

Washing has worked perfectly for my couch. I wish the back cushions were removable.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for this! I am embarrassed every time visitors are at my house because my couches are so covered in water stains. Those dang sippy cups! This has saved me from buying new furniture. Thanks!!!

Kelly Di Savino said...

Someone please email me about this......

Kelly Di Savino said...

Sorry for the caps guys ....

eliza fierce said...

I have a tan microfiber sofa and love seat. I put mine in the washer/dryer and it worked perfectly! They were so clean and easy to put back on the cushion. So much easier than spot treating!

Anonymous said...

I have a microfiber set in my family room.OMG!THIS WORKS!I used step #1 along with cleaning pillows with alcohol. OMG!Thank you! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Works great!

kpaint said...

Just finished! Worked like a charm:)...sloop thankful!

Anonymous said...

Worked well. I've also found that using a regular carpet spot stain remover and spraying the entire cushion vs just spots works as well. I've sprayed the entire cushion and scrubbed it with a soft brush and dried it with a fan and sometimes with a hair dryer. As long as you cover the entire surface and scrub the areas where you have water stains hard, it works. Spot cleaning just results in more water stains.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, how did I not know about just throwing them in the wash? Thank you so much for including that. I did a little dance when I flipped my cushion over and found the beautiful zipper that has been lying there patiently waiting to be used all these years...

Sylvie said...

quick question: has anyone tried home cleaning with slip-covers in a blend of linen and cotton. I know linen will shrink but I don`t want to use the Dry Cleaner services and wznt to refresh them

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Anonymous said...

Tried this on my microfiber couch, and didn't work. :'( they are not super dirty or anything but kids did use pen, pencil, markers etc and those stains did come out. What didn't were water stains. Will try again by wetting the entire seat instead of spot cleaning, just like a commenter stated.

Stephanie H said...

Thank you.
Thank you!

I have been pinteresting and googling on week. As a new mom (to a baby girl, and a continuing mom to two puppies and two cats), the stains on my couch have piled up so badly it finally got to me. I NEEDED a solution.

I have been trying different solutions the last three days: rubbing alcohol with sponge, oxiclean, soap and water (the worst option yet).

This, THIS, is the solution. It has transformed my once "ready-to-give-to-Goodwill" couch to "good-as-new". After cleaning with wipes and alcohol AND using a blow dryer (this may be the key), I added some furniture fluff to my cushions and the result was WOW.

So, THANK YOU again. You've made my day, week, perhaps year (that may be going to far, but you get the idea).

Anonymous said...

I just have two questions. Will this cause any discoloration? Also, one of the arm feels like leather almost as it's where you have the most use, rubbing, fabric is kinda do I g h there. Will this procedure wok on that or do you have any ideas??? Thank you.

kopiluwak nya said...


Leslie Lim said...

You have done a great work. Thanks for making this blog. You helped me a lot on my research topic. Keep it up guys!


Chelsea Norman said...

The idea of baby wipes is fantastic. I used alcohol for cleaning my couch , too. My mom recently told me that she uses vinegar. I have never tried with it. It is very interesting how many ingredients you can use for cleaning. Best regards!

Anonymous said...

This absolutely positively saved me over $2,000 buying a new couch. I had been washing with water (& detergent with my steam cleaner attachment) and was always so disappointed because the stains were so bad, no matter how hard I tried. I even had stanley steamer come... big mistake. But alcohol alone didn't do it, it was adding the BABY WIPES that got out the stubborn stains. I am sooooo happy! Thank you thank you thank you!


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