Frugal Living: Spring Cleaning on a Budget


It’s springtime and with it comes an internal desire to clean and freshen up our living spaces which have had a lot of use through the winter.

Two weeks ago, I was deep cleaning our much-used and much-loved family room. I turned and looked at our sofa and thought, “Yuck!” But that’s about all I could do or say.

You see, we own a microfiber sofa and they cannot be cleaned like other upholstery. I have some cleaner which came with our sofa but it really doesn’t seem to do a whole lot. In fact, I think it makes the microfiber collect more dirt!

As I looked at the sofa and noted the shiny armrest and cushion as a result of overuse, I thought how sad that we ever invested in microfiber furniture. At the time, it looked so inviting, cozy, and warm.

I hated to think about replacing it since it was only seven years old and still had lots of use left in it. The structure is still good, the cushions are firm and my family can all fit on it and be very cozy together.

Being determined to find a thrifty solution, I began researching all of the internet possibilities of cleaning a microfiber sofa. I read lots of different ideas but then one caught my eye, mostly because of the before and after pictures. It was worth a shot…what did I have to lose?

Erin's couch before the cleaning.

So I gathered the necessary items, and let me tell you how inexpensive this cleaning method ended up to be!

One bottle of rubbing alcohol which I purchased at a local drug store for 99 cents, a scrubby sponge (white is best but I used the standard yellow/green sponges), and a scrub brush. I bought the sponge at Walmart with a coupon for 49 cents and I had a scrub brush which came with our original sofa cleaning kit. So, I simply invested $1.48!

I filled a spray bottle with 100% pure rubbing alcohol (don’t water it down) and began to spray it on the sofa. Then I began the tedious, disgusting work of scrubbing.

At first I didn’t think it was doing a whole lot, but then layer by layer the dirt began to peel off. I had to keep rinsing my sponge because it was loaded full of dirt and grime. I was thoroughly appalled at the amount of dirt embedded in this piece of furniture!

As I cleaned the armrests, I kept getting flashes of boys eating buttered corn, chocolate chip cookies, and popsicles. And I when I scrubbed the cushions it made me realize where all the sunscreen and lotion we put on our legs went. Ewww! Not to mention, the drool spots from my boys when they fall asleep on the sofa or juice stains from the sippy cups when they were smaller.

Years of dirt were sitting right there, ready to tell a story if I wanted! But I chose not to listen and scrubbed until I no longer could see the dirt or hear their stories. I was so embarrassed at the dirt that I promised myself I wouldn’t tell a soul about it.

But then the final step happened…once the alcohol dried (which is super fast) I took my scrub brush and began to brush life back into our sofa. The shiny armrests turned into soft, plush microfiber again and the cushions looked brand new.

Okay, despite the fact I was totally grossed out by the dirt and ready to seal my mouth closed about it, I decided I needed to share this incredible discovery with everyone!

Now, after scrubbing a couple of cushions I realized I could unzip them and wash the covers (really?! It took me seven years to realize this!?) so I washed all of them in the washing machine and then briefly dried them on a delicate cycle. The ones which I had scrubbed with alcohol looked much better. There were still some shiny spots on the other ones, so I still had to do the alcohol treatment on those spots.

Erin's couch after cleaning - like new again!

I’m not sure my pictures do this method any justice but the sofa was worn out and the plushness of the microfiber had disappeared on the armrests and the edge of the cushions where the backs of our legs hit. They had become shiny, smooth areas.

After this treatment, they were restored to fluffy, plush microfiber. It’s like having a new sofa – and all I spent was $1.48!

So, before you drag your microfiber sofa out to the curb to give away or you hire someone to try and clean it for $250 or more, try this method. If it worked on my sofa, I’m fairly certain it will work on yours. And heck, it’s totally worth it to spend $1.48 instead of $1000 or more to replace the best seat in the house!

Here is the detailed method:

  1. You’ll need one bottle of rubbing alcohol, one scrubby sponge, and one bristle scrub brush
  2. Pour alcohol into spray bottle. Do NOT add any water. Water destroys microfiber if it gets saturated.
  3. Spray generously onto furniture. With a scrubby sponge, scrub until dirt lifts and comes to the surface. You may need to rinse your sponge several times.
  4. Once the alcohol dries, take the bristle brush and begin to brush vigorously to bring the nap of the microfiber back up. You may have to repeat all these steps if your sofa is home to kids, dogs and other living creatures who leave behind a truckload of dirt.

Even after my first cleaning, I’m noting some areas which I need to go back over but all in all, I found this method to be super effective and super frugal, two things that I love!

Be prepared to see a lot of dirt and grime but shhh, we’ll just keep that our own little secret!


Erin’s got tons of tips for saving money, couponing, and sticking to a budget in her previous posts: What I Love About MissoulaSave Money and Do It Yourself with Pinterest, and Frugal Living: Homemade Deli Meat. Be sure to check out the Missoula Save it Club.

   Visit the Coupon Queen’s “Save It” archive.


Erin Eisenman-Turner is proud to be a native Missoulian. Along with her husband and three sons, they raise chickens, pigs, rabbits, and vegetables at Turner Family Farms in the Orchard Homes area. When the farm chores are done, the coupons clipped, and the blog written, you can find Erin exploring Montana, collecting antiques, and trying to maintain a well-run, happy, and organized home for her family.

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