Linen is a strong natural fiber -- woven flax -- that both dyes and wrinkles easily and is often blended with another fiber, such as rayon, for upholstery. It complements contemporary-style furniture but will also add an urbane, elegant polish to a vintage or antique sofa. Linen can handle alkaline detergents and dry-cleaning solvents; the pure fiber is a Code S fabric, which is industry-speak for material that resists solvents. Linen and linen blends can also be Code WS fabrics, and they may be cleaned with water-based or solvent products.
Vacuum the sofa to remove loose dirt that a cleaning liquid might soak into the fibers. Take removable cushions off the sofa and get down into the crevices between cushions and frame with an upholstery cleaning attachment. Break up any encrusted dirt with a soft brush and vacuum it up.
Spot-clean stained or soiled sections of the sofa with a cleaning solvent or a water-based detergent, mixed according to the manufacturer's instructions. First test the cleaner on a hidden area of the sofa to be sure it won't fade or weaken the fabric.
Apply the cleaner with a white cloth, dabbing at -- not soaking -- the stain or spot to lift the dirt away from the upholstery. As the cloth becomes soiled, use unstained clean sections to continue loosening and absorbing the soil from the sofa.
Clean the removable cushions in the same manner as you cleaned the frame of the sofa. After getting out any stains, go over the entire cushion with the cleaner so no visible "clean" and "dingy" areas remain.
Allow cleaned areas and cushions to dry completely before reassembling the sofa. Once the sofa is dry, vacuum cleaned areas again to restore any flattened nap.