How to Clean a Couch the Right Way


Whether you’re a true ‘couch potato’ or not, most people still spend a lot of time sitting on their couch, so dirt, crumbs, and stains are bound to accumulate over time. Since a couch takes center stage in the living room, it’s important to know how to keep it clean. From minimizing the impact of accidental spills to freeing your couch from everyday debris, our cleaning pros have the answers that will teach you how to clean a couch effectively!

How to Clean the Sofa

Couch cleaning strategies vary, but generally speaking, you’ll want to wipe the sofa down using the appropriate couch upholstery cleaner. Focus on scrubbing the stained areas, then allow the area to dry before you assess your success at removing the stain.

How to clean a couch successfully often comes down to using the right cleaning solution on your particular couch fabric. Here are some things to consider when cleaning each type of fabric.

How to Clean a Cloth Couch

Learning about cleaning furniture fabric takes a little practice and patience. What works best for one fabric couch may not work well for another. So, use these tips the next time your cloth sofa requires a thorough cleaning, but be sure to adjust your technique based on the color and specific type of fabric.

  • Brush the couch. Use a clean white towel or stiff brush to loosen anything that has dried onto the couch.
  • Apply baking soda. Sprinkle baking soda on the entire couch. Leave it for 20 minutes to an hour. Then vacuum the baking soda up with a brush attachment.
  • Make a DIY couch cleaner. While the baking soda sets in, you can concoct a simple cleaner to remove any remaining stains. Combine 1 tsp dishwashing liquid, 1 tbsp -white vinegar, and 1 cup warm water in a spray bottle. Next, add 1 tsp of baking soda and put the top on the spray bottle. It’s best to create this solution over a sink to avoid a mess. (Baking soda and vinegar create a lot of bubbles when combined!)
  • Wipe down the couch. Spray a clean white cloth with the cleaning solution and use it to gently dab and rub any stains on the fabric. Alternatively, wipe down the entire sofa with the solution for a good cleaning.
  • Let the fabric dry. Leave the couch to dry for a few hours. Do not sit on the couch or place anything on it during this time.

How to Clean a Microfiber Couch

When it comes to DIY couch cleaning, rubbing alcohol can be a real lifesaver—especially when dealing with microfiber sofas. As previously mentioned, be sure to check that tag and test the solution on a small area before using it to clean the entire couch. The cleaning code “S” (for “solvent”) means rubbing alcohol is a great option.

  • Scrub with rubbing alcohol. Working section by section, spray an area with rubbing alcohol and then scrub with a white or light-colored sponge (so no color transfers from the sponge to the couch while you scrub). You should see the stains lift onto the sponge as you go.
  • Brush in circles. The couch should dry quickly because alcohol evaporates rapidly. Once it’s dry, use a dry scrub brush to fluff the fabric. It’s best to brush using a circular motion.
  • Repeat the process with distilled water. If there are any water stains on the couch (and both water and solvent cleaning are acceptable), follow the same cleaning process mentioned, but replace the alcohol with distilled water.

How to Clean a Suede Couch

If you’ve ever wondered how to clean a suede couch, we have some tips that can help restore its original luster. Suede is a popular choice for sofas because it looks good and feels very comfortable. Unfortunately, suede material also has a reputation for being difficult to maintain. Therefore, a little extra care is required for cleaning furniture fabric on your suede couch. Here are our tips for cleaning a suede couch:

  • Refresh your suede couch with a damp cloth. Avoid getting the suede too wet. Squeeze as much water out of a washcloth as possible before applying it to the couch. The damp cloth will remove surface dirt and debris without damaging the suede material.
  • Find a product designed specifically to clean suede. As we have recommended several times before, always test any new cleaning product in a small, less-visible area of the couch before using it all over. Dab a little area of the couch with the solution and wait about 20 minutes to see how it reacts with the material. If you can’t find special suede cleaners, try a little distilled white vinegar.
  • A rubber eraser can be used to gently wipe away stubborn stains. This is especially helpful for ink and crayon stains that have become embedded in the suede over time.
  • For wet stains, blot up as much of the moisture as you can. Apply a suede-friendly stain treatment, and let it sit for a few minutes. Rinse the couch with a clean, damp washcloth. Dry the area with a hair dryer.

How to Clean a Velvet Couch

If you’re curious about how to clean a couch made of velvet, patience is key. Velvet has a well-earned reputation for being high-maintenance. While velvet sofas don’t require any special equipment or supplies to clean, they do require close attention and care. Velvet should be vacuumed weekly to keep it in the best condition possible. If your velvet couch requires a deeper clean, follow these steps:

  • Clean stains with paper towels first. Sop up as much moisture as possible. If the stain is solid, use a butter knife to lift as much of it off the material as possible. Then mix a few drops of dishwasher detergent with some warm water and gently blot the stain; never rub it.
  • To address creases and wrinkles in the fabric, try using a steam cleaner (one used for clothes). Start on the lowest temperature setting, and slowly work your way up to remove wrinkles.
  • Once the couch is dry, use a soft, dry brush to keep it looking brand new.

How to Clean Couch Cushions

How to clean couch cushions successfully depends on the material they are made of. Therefore, you’ll need to choose a cleaning method that works well on the cushion material you have. Removable cushions are a little easier to clean since you can toss them right in the washing machine, provided they are washable. If not, here are a few best practices to keep in mind when cleaning any kind of couch cushion:

  • If you have pets, try using a pair of rubber gloves to start your cleaning efforts. Rubbing your gloved hands over pet fur is a quick and easy way to remove the hair from your cushions.
  • Next, vacuum the entire couch, paying attention to the little nooks and crannies where crumbs and other things are prone to fall.
  • Use a solvent-based cleaner that’s recommended for the fabric you have. Don’t forget to run a spot test on a small area before using the cleaner all over your cushions.
  • If you can’t find a recommended cleaner, try mixing a small amount of mild dish detergent with warm water. Add a little to an upholstery brush, and gently scrub any stains. If this method is effective, apply it to the rest of your cushions.

Cleaning couch cushions that can be removed is one thing; cleaning couch cushions that cannot be removed is a little more challenging. So it’s time to bring the heat in the form of steam! Applying steam to specific areas of your cushions is a great way to remove those stubborn stains. Since most clothing steamers are portable, you can get into even those hardest-to-reach spaces.


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