Couch Cleaning Tips

How to Remove a Couch Stain: The Ultimate Guide

You may have thought that red wine is the worst thing to spill on a couch, but it's not! We'll tell you what the worst stain is and how to clean it.

How to Tackle the Toughest Couch Stains

Over the years of running a furniture business, I've seen it all. From diaper stains to red wine to cigarette burns, you name it! And, fair enough! We all use our sofas every single day pretty much. There's a lot of life that gets lived on them, especially if you're a wine drinking, butt smoking baby.

Customers often ask about stain resistance before making their choice of sofa because it's kind of like a very expensive shirt that you can't wash easily... it's an investment and you want to make sure it's right. The good news is that most stains CAN be removed from couches and most fabrics nowadays are very stain resistant and/or repellant.


In the video above, I highlight some of the worst stains you can think of that people often ask about and some remedies to consider for cleaning them from your couch while panicking about what you just spilled on it. Here is a summary of my video conversation with myself:

Red Wine Stains

Red wine is often thought of as the worst thing to spill on a couch, but it's not the hardest to clean. Prevention is key, but if a spill happens, many modern fabrics repel liquids, and there are numerous cleaning products available. Using salt and boiling water can also help as a home remedy.

Chocolate Stains

Chocolate poses a significant challenge due to its oils and texture. When dealing with chocolate, it's crucial to avoid spreading the stain. Using strong cleaning products, like heavy-duty laundry detergent or dish soap, can be effective. Specialized chocolate stain removers are also an option.

Coffee Stains

Coffee, like red wine, has a high staining potential. However, it's slightly easier to clean. Using vinegar-based solutions or plain white vinegar can effectively lift coffee stains from the fabric, as coffee is a natural substance that responds well to vinegar.

Ink Stains

Ink stains may seem daunting but are surprisingly easy to remove, especially on polyester-based couches. Rubbing alcohol is highly effective for ink stains. In a showroom demonstration, customers could draw on the couch and easily clean it with rubbing alcohol, showcasing its efficiency.

Blood Stains

Blood stains can be effectively treated with hydrogen peroxide. Applying hydrogen peroxide to the stain causes it to foam, lifting the blood particles to the surface for easy cleaning. This method is highly effective and safe for fabric.

Oil Stains

Oil stains are the toughest to clean due to their ability to penetrate deep into the fabric. Whether it's cooking oil, chocolate oil, or any other type, these stains are persistent. Taking the stained cushion covers to a professional dry cleaner is often the best solution.

How to Choose the Right Cleaning Products

Selecting the right cleaning products is crucial for effective stain removal. Products specifically designed for fabric care ensure that stains are treated without damaging the material. Reading labels and following instructions can help maintain the integrity of your couch while effectively removing stains.

Professional Cleaning for Tough Stains

For particularly stubborn or extensive stains, professional cleaning services are often the best option. These services have specialized equipment and products that can handle tough stains without damaging the fabric. Investing in professional cleaning can extend the life of your couch and keep it looking its best.

Combining Methods for Best Results

Sometimes, combining different cleaning methods can yield the best results. Starting with a mild approach and escalating to stronger solutions ensures that stains are addressed without causing additional damage. This layered approach allows for flexibility and effectiveness in stain removal, keeping your couch in top condition.

Transcript | How to Remove a Couch Stain: The Ultimate Guide

Hey hey, couch potatoes! It's Alex with It's never fun to get something on your couch that needs to be cleaned off. Whether you spill some apple pie on it or some red wine, it's usually a bad time all around, and it creates a lot of anxiety. However, it can be fun to think about all the different things that might be the worst possible thing you can get on your couch to get out. So today on, we're going to explore some of the worst things and hardest things to get out of your couch.

Red Wine. Red wine is sort of the quintessential thing that people think about when they think about the worst thing to spill on your couch. Spoiler alert: it's not the worst thing. First of all, you have to wonder how you're spilling red wine on your couch, and I think we all know the answer to that one. So the best thing to do here in practice is prevention. The truth is that with red wine, there are actually a lot of cleaning products and a lot of fabrics these days that can repel red wine or other liquids with a very strong staining quality. There are plenty of cleaning products, as I said, that can clean something like that out that you can find on Amazon or at your local Home Depot or anywhere that sells cleaning products. Best way to clean it: try salt and boiling water. It's sort of an old wives' tale or a home remedy, but it may be worth a shot.

Chocolate. Now, this is a bad one. This is definitely in the running for one of the worst things to get out of your couch because not only does chocolate have a lot of oils in it that can really seep into the inner workings of the fabric, but it has texture too. The texture, if you've noticed, when you've gotten chocolate on something—and we're all guilty of this, this much I know—if you think about getting chocolate into something, what do you picture yourself doing first? You picture scratching it out, literally taking your fingernail or something else and scratching it out. That can often spread it around a little bit or sometimes make it worse. So you want to be really careful when getting out the texture of the stain. Ultimately, you're left with a residue or oil. You want to use the most powerful cleaning product that you have to get that type of stain out. Typically, look for ones that are good for chocolate. It's a very common stain. Best way to clean it: something heavier like a laundry detergent or dish soap. You may want to go out and find the best cleaning product specifically for chocolate, but if you want to give something a shot at home first, try that and it might work.

Coffee. Similar to red wine, coffee is a liquid solvent with a very high stainability factor. That being said, it is actually less staining than red wine. Anything that can get out red wine or certainly anything that can get out chocolate can also get out coffee from your couch. Best way to clean it: try something vinegar-based or use some white vinegar in your house to lift the stain. Since coffee is a natural product of the earth, something like vinegar is often very good at reducing such stains.

Ink. Now, ink certainly seems like one of the worst stains out there, but it's actually one of the easiest to remove, especially if you have a polyester-based couch. Back in the day when I used to sell couches on the showroom floor, we would have what was called the pen test. This was right when microfiber was just getting popular in the early aughts, and people didn't believe that couches would actually be easy to clean. So what did we do? We had a pen handy in the showroom, and we would give it to the customers. We'd say, "Hey, you want to take the pen test?" They'd say, "Okay, you want us to draw on the couch?" We'd say, "Yeah, just give it a nice draw." They would draw on it, and then we would take our magical powers of straight-up rubbing alcohol and a cloth, douse it, dab it, rub it out, and it would come out every single time. There was that one time, however, where we were selling couches inside a Costco store as a special event. I gave the pen to this dad walking by, and he thought he was being funny. He went up to the couch and wouldn't you know it, he drew a big pair of breasts on there. That took a long time to clean out, but it came out with a little rubbing alcohol. Best way to clean: rubbing alcohol.

Curry. Yummy for the tummy but not so good for the couch. Best way to clean: any stain remover and cold water. We'd recommend starting with that and seeing if it may need a trip to the dry cleaners after that.

Tomato Sauce. Mamma Mia! What are you doing, dropping the tomato sauce? Don't you know to fold your napkin in your shirt when you eat the Italian meal? Come on, everybody knows that one. Best way to clean: detergent and cold water. Try a mild laundry detergent, ideally one that's unscented and a little bit purer, to see if it gets the stain out. It should be able to come out, though.

Blood. Okay, now this is a really good one and a home remedy that I learned that actually amazed me. If you get blood on your sofa—call 911, just kidding. If you get blood on your sofa, what you want to use is some hydrogen peroxide. It works like a miracle. If you have a little piece of blood on your sofa, whether it's dry or not, you take a little hydrogen peroxide and pour it, douse it on that specific area. You don't need to worry about using too much; it's not going to damage the rest of your fabric. Pour some on and you'll see it starts to foam up where the blood is. If you think about it, whenever you put hydrogen peroxide on any of your cuts or bruises—or scrapes, bruises don't bleed—you'll see that it starts to foam. Well, the same thing happens on fabric, and it actually allows for the blood particles to come to the surface so that they can be wiped or cleaned away. Best way to clean blood: hydrogen peroxide.

Oil. And finally, the number one hardest thing to clean from couches is oil. Now, there are oils of various kinds, and they're in various things like chocolate. Chocolate, as I mentioned earlier, has oil in it. However, oil in its purest form, like an olive oil, vegetable oil, things of that nature, coconut oil, these can really get deep, deep into the very inner workings of the fabric and can be the hardest things to clean. Is it possible? Yes, absolutely. But think about oil stains that you've gotten on your clothing before; they can often be very, very difficult to clean. This may be a situation where you might want to take it to a professional first before starting to try something on it at home. If you have removable cushion covers, definitely think about taking it to the dry cleaners on your way home from work. Best way to clean: take it to the dry cleaners and say a little prayer.

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Alex Back is the founder and CEO of Previously, he was the co-founder and COO of the popular furniture brand, Apt2B, which was acquired by a large US retail furniture chain in 2018. He worked to integrate Apt2B, one of the very first online furniture retailers on the Shopify platform, into the operations of the 100 year old larger business entity and was deeply immersed in the business operations of both online and brick and mortar retail for 4 years before leaving in 2023 to start Working in various parts of the furniture industry since 2004, he has 20 years experience in retail sales, e-commerce, marketing, operations, logistics and wholesale manufacturing and distribution. He has worked extensively with partners such as Costco, Bed Bath and Beyond and Amazon and his work has been highlighted in many publications such as Forbes, CNN and HGTV, among others. Alex is delighted to bring his experience and authority on couches and the furniture industry to this platform, along with many of his industry colleagues who are helping him keep the audience informed and engaged on a daily basis.
Alex Back CEO & Founder