Sofa upholstery can be made from either synthetic materials or natural fabrics. Light-colored fabric on a sofa can become soiled from foods, liquids, pets and grime. In addition, a light-colored sofa fabric can become dull and dingy from prolonged use. Body and hair oils become embedded into the fabric, causing it to discolor and stain. Common fabrics used on sofas are microfiber, polyester, cotton and wool, which can be cleaned and restored with a little effort.
Combine 2 cups of hot water with 1 tablespoon of mild liquid dish soap in a bowl. Mix thoroughly until the mixture forms a foam. Use before the mixture cools because hot water mixed with soap is more effective in breaking down stains than cold water.
Submerge a white cloth into the soapy mixture and squeeze out the excess water. Never use a colored cloth because the combination of hot water and dish soap can cause the color to bleed onto your fabric. If you don't have a white cloth, use a neutral-colored cloth like beige or ivory. Also, if you fail to squeeze out the excess water, the cushions might become wet and moldy.
Wipe down the sofa fabric with your damp cloth using firm circular motions. Let the soapy mixture set on the sofa for 10 minutes so it can permeate the fibers.
Dampen your sponge and wipe off the sofa to remove the soap solution. Repeat this process until all residue is removed, because if you don't, the fabric might stiffen and feel hard.
Spot-clean stains. After the entire sofa has been cleaned with the soap mixture, concentrate on stains that haven't been removed. Using plain hot water and a clean cloth, gently scrub the remaining stains in a circular fashion. If necessary, dip a clean cloth into a mixture of 1/4 cup white vinegar and 1 tablespoon of baking soda.