How to Get a Set Stain Out of a Couch

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Things You'll Need

  • Water

  • Dish soap

  • White distilled vinegar

  • Squirt bottle

  • Paper towels

  • Sponge

  • Rubbing alcohol

  • Stain pretreater

  • Color-safe bleach

  • Baking soda

  • Vacuum

  • Dry-cleaning solvent

Spills can leave a stain in your couch upholstery.

Whether it is your child drinking juice on the couch while watching cartoons, or your spouse having a beer during a football game, spills are often inevitable. A visible stain will result where the spill occurred. Fortunately, the sooner you take action to clean up the spill, the better your chances are of getting rid of the stain. The method you use to remove the stain depends on the type of stain that exists.


Food, Drink and Personal Care Product Stains

Step 1

Mix together 1/4 cup warm water, 1/2 tsp. dish soap and 1 tbsp. white distilled vinegar. Pour the mixture into a squirt bottle.

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Step 2

Squirt the stain removal solution over the stain on your couch until it is completely saturated. Wait 15 minutes before continuing.


Step 3

Blot the liquid and the stain up with white paper towels (colored paper towels will leave behind dye).

Step 4

Sponge any remaining traces of the stain with rubbing alcohol. Wait five minutes and blot again with fresh paper towels.


Tannin and Dye Stains

Step 1

Cover the stain on the couch with a liquid stain pretreater. Let it sit for 30 minutes before continuing.

Step 2

Flush the area with water that is hot, but less than 160 degrees F.


Step 3

Blot up the water, pretreater and the stain with paper towels.

Step 4

Cover any remaining stain with a color-safe bleach product.

Step 5

Rinse the area once again with hot water, and blot the area with fresh paper towels.


Oil and Grease Stains

Step 1

Sprinkle baking soda over the oil or grease stain on your couch. Wait 15 minutes for the baking soda to absorb the excess oil.

Step 2

Vacuum off the baking soda using the upholstery attachment.


Step 3

Coat the grease stained area with a dry-cleaning solvent.

Step 4

Blot up the oil and dry-cleaning solvent with some paper towels.


Illinois State University has a stain removal solution tool (see Resources) that you can use to find a specific formula for removing the exact stain on your couch.

Always blot from the edge of the stain inward.

For protein stains, follow the food and drink stain removal steps, but substitute the white distilled vinegar for ammonia.


Never wipe or scrub a stain. You will just set the stain deeper into the fibers, and spread it out further.

Do not use detergent made for dishwashing machines. Unlike dish soap, dishwashing detergent is highly alkaline which will cause skin irritation if not completely removed from the fibers of your couch.


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