How to Clean A Couch

Person spraying cleaning solution on a blue couch

The Best Way to Clean a Couch

We spend a lot of time on our couches, so they’re bound to get dirty and stained from time to time. Knowing how to clean couch stains is a skill we should all have up our sleeves. Be it an emergency red wine spill or just a buildup of grime from the pet lying on the couch every day, we have the answers that will teach you how to clean a couch effectively!

First and most importantly, make sure you read the manufacturer’s suggestions for cleaning. Couches always come with a cleaning tag, just like your favorite clothing items. Check that label for cleaning clues. Here are some codes you’re likely to find and what they mean:

  • W — It’s okay to clean this material with water.
  • S — Do not use water to clean this material. Use a solvent-based cleaner.
  • WS — Using water or solvent-based cleaners on this material is okay.
  • X — Only vacuum this material. Do not use water or solvent-based cleaners.

Since many tools have been developed to make carpet cleaning easier, many people wonder if they can be applied to couches. So, can you use a carpet cleaner on a couch? The answer is yes if you use a suitable attachment from your carpet cleaning device and spot-test the solution on a less visible area of your couch. Don’t forget to check the tag to confirm cleaning instructions.

How to Clean Couch Stains

Couch cleaning strategies vary, but generally speaking, you’ll want to wipe the sofa down using the appropriate cleanser. Focus on scrubbing the stained areas, then allow the area to dry completely 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 how to clean a couch 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. Prep the couch by brushing it with a clean white hand towel or a stiff brush. The brushing should help loosen anything that has dried onto it.
  • Apply baking soda. Sprinkle the entire couch with baking soda, and let it sit for at least 20 minutes. (You can leave it there for up to an hour.) Using a brush attachment, vacuum the couch to remove the baking soda.
  • Make an all-purpose couch cleaner. While the baking soda sits on the couch, make this simple cleaner to tackle any remaining stains. Combine 1 tsp of dishwashing liquid, 1 tbsp of white vinegar, and 1 cup of warm water in a small spray bottle. Next, add 1 tsp of baking soda and quickly screw the top onto 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 couch. Spray a clean, white cloth with the cleaning solution, and 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. Do not sit or place objects on the couch for a few hours or until the fabric is completely dry.

How to Clean a Microfiber Couch

When it comes to couch cleaning, rubbing alcohol can be a real lifesaver—especially when dealing with microfiber sofas. As we mentioned before, 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 as 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 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 Leather Couch

Learning how to clean a couch properly often comes down to trial and error. For example, leather couches offer a whole list of cleaning options, as leather comes in various finishes. When determining how to clean a leather couch, keep in mind that methods may vary significantly from one couch to another.

The instructions that follow are specifically intended for cleaning protected leather, which is more common and simpler to clean than other types of leather. If you have an unprotected leather couch, consult the manufacturer for suggested cleaning methods. And in case you forgot, be sure to check that label and test cleaning products in an inconspicuous spot on the couch before attempting to clean the whole thing.

  • Start by vacuuming the couch, including all those nooks and crannies.
  • Wipe the whole couch down with a clean, dry microfiber cloth.
  • Create a cleaning solution by combining equal parts water and white vinegar in a small bucket. Dip a microfiber cloth into the solution so that it is damp but not wet, then wipe the couch, rinsing the cloth regularly.
  • Dry the couch with a clean, dry microfiber cloth.
  • Be sure to use a leather conditioner on your couch every six to 12 months to keep the leather feeling soft.

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 and removing stains from 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:

  • Spot 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 spot test 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; how to clean 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.

Let Molly Maid Help with the Cleaning

Using the tips we provided should help you clean your couch and cushions successfully. But keeping your couch and cushions clean, especially if you have pets and children, can be a full-time job. And with all the other things you have to do, you may need a little help. Your local cleaning professionals at Molly Maid can help keep your furniture and the rest of your home spotless.

Whether you choose our regular cleaning services, occasional cleaning, or special event cleaning, we tailor all our services to accommodate your schedule. So instead of cleaning your couch, hire professional cleaning help, so you can sit back and relax on your nice clean couch! Call or request a free estimate online today!

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