Yes! You Can Clean Your Couch with Rubbing Alcohol



Our couch is a workhorse.  Our family spends probably 80% of our waking hours in the living room, and there is almost always someone on the couch.  We eat on it, drink on it, and sleep on it.  I make a “special bed” on the couch for the kids when they are sick.  My husband lets our basset hound jump up on the couch when he thinks I’m not looking.  It is used.  A lot.

And, as a consequence, it looked pretty nasty.  It had gotten to the point where I was seriously considering hiring a steam cleaning company to clean it.  I had even looked around to price out new couches.  It was gross.

My mom shared a pin of Chris and Robin’s Nest’s post on How to Clean a Microfiber Couch with Rubbing Alcohol, and I decided to see if it would work.  I know from my past experience using rubbing alcohol to remove ball point pen ink from a new couch that rubbing alcohol was safe on our couch’s fabric, even though it isn’t microfiber.  I figured it was worth a shot.  While my laptop was out being repaired (did you miss me last week?), I used my free time to try this method myself.

To clean your couch with rubbing alcohol, you will need:

The following links are affiliate links.  I will receive a small commission if you choose to make a purchase after visiting these links.

rubbing alcohol

spray bottle (just the pump and nozzle, really)

new white or tan sponges

new white or tan cleaning brush

washing machine (optional)

I added affiliate links to the materials list if you really don’t feel like leaving the house before tackling this project.  But, if you have the opportunity, hit up your local dollar store first.  You can usually find all of these items there for much less than other stores.

stained couch

These pictures do not do justice to how gunked up the couch was.  Just picture splatter patterns of apple juice on the backs of the seats, dog drool on the couch cushions, and goldfish cracker dust ground into the armrests.  Then you will have a pretty good idea.

clean cushions  
First, I used the attachments of my Bissel Pro-Glide to get as much loose dog hair and food crumbs out of the fabric as possible.

Instead of spending hours scrubbing the entire couch, I just unzipped the covers from the seat cushions and threw them in the washing machine.  I knew that there was a chance that the material might shrink a bit, but I was willing to risk it.  I did NOT dry them in the dryer, however; I let the covers air dry.  I’m crazy, not a masochist.

new pillows 
All in all, I probably spent about an hour spraying and scrubbing the seat backs and armrests to get the stains out of the fabric.  I let the rubbing alcohol evaporate (which doesn’t take long) and then hit those spots with the scrubbing brush.  I brushed down the whole couch, including the laundered couch cushions, to make the fabric look uniformly clean.

clean couch

While the couch isn’t spotless now, or sanitized, it does look remarkably good for the few dollars and hour of work I put into it.  With a throw blanket and a few newly sewn pillow covers, I think it looks pretty decent!

Be sure to check out the original post for the full tutorial.  Here are a few extra tips that I found to be helpful:

  • Standard spray bottle nozzles will screw right onto bottles of rubbing alcohol.  Just unscrew the top and screw the nozzle right on.
  • Test a small, inconspicuous area of fabric if you aren’t sure rubbing alcohol will work on your couch’s fabric.
  • Keep the scrub brush around for occasional couch brush downs.  The bristles will work up dust and dirt that your vacuum alone might not reach.

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Thanks,  Jessica




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