How to Remove Grease Stains on Furniture Upholstery

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Your mom always told you not to eat on the couch, but sometimes, it's just too tempting to curl up with a bowl of buttery popcorn or enjoy dinner in front of your favorite show. With that indulgence comes the risk of getting greasy stains on your furniture upholstery. You might be used to cleaning grease from clothes, but upholstery can be a little more challenging. Knowing the right approach to cleaning a grease stain on a couch helps you restore your favorite sofa or chair to its former glory.

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Remove Visible Grease

If any grease is still standing or dries on top of the upholstery, gently scrape it off the fabric. A plastic knife works well for scraping off the grease without damaging the upholstery. As you scrape, avoid spreading the grease beyond where it is already. Then, blot the area with a dry or damp cloth to soak up as much grease as possible. This won't remove all of the grease, but it removes a large portion of it before you move on to other grease removal methods.

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Absorb the Grease

Before scrubbing the stain, absorb as much of the grease as possible with baking soda or corn starch. Sprinkle a generous amount of the baking soda or corn starch over the entire grease stain, ensuring there's a thick layer over the area. Wait 15 to 20 minutes to allow the powder to pull the oil out of the fabric. Vacuum all of the baking soda or corn starch off the couch using a brush attachment. Inspect the stained area to see if it still looks greasy and proceed with additional cleaning based on the fabric type.

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Determine the Fabric Type

Furniture upholstery has a cleaning code that tells you what type of cleaning solutions you can safely use on it. You can usually find this information on the tag, which is often under removable cushions or under the sofa. The four code options include:

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  • W:​ This type of upholstery is compatible with water-based cleaners and cleaning methods, such as shampooing the sofa to clean it.

  • S:​ You can only use dry-cleaning solvents that don't use water on this type of upholstery.

  • S/W:​ This cleaning code means you can safely use both water-based cleaners and solvents on the furniture upholstery.

  • X:​ If you see an X on the tag, you should only have the upholstery professionally dry cleaned. You can vacuum the fabric, but you shouldn't use any cleaners on it.

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Use Additional Cleaning Methods

Based on the furniture upholstery type, use additional cleaners to remove the remaining grease stains. For type W sofas, squeeze a small amount of grease-fighting dish soap onto a cleaning cloth and dab the stain with it. Rinse off the soap with a clean, damp cloth and let the spot dry. Repeat if necessary if the grease mark still appears after the area dries.

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For type S sofas, use a dry-cleaning solvent designed for sofas. Follow the instructions on the package to clean the grease stain. Avoid using water on a type S sofa since it can leave marks or damage the upholstery.

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