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 dog sitting on the couch every day, we have the answers and will show you how to clean a couch effectively!
First, and most important, is making sure you read the manufacturer’s suggestions for cleaning. Couches always come with a cleaning tag, just like your favorite items of clothing. Check the tag 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 – It’s okay to use water or solvent-based cleaners on this material.
- X – Only vacuum this material. Do not use water or solvent-based cleaners.
The best way to clean couch stains is to wipe the couch with the correct cleaning solution (depending on the fabric). Focus on scrubbing the stained areas and then allow the couch to dry.
The following tips should do the trick when it comes to cleaning each type of fabric, but make sure you check that cleaning tag and test products in an inconspicuous spot before applying them to the whole couch.
- Brush the couch. Prep the couch by brushing it with a clean white hand towel or a stiff brush. This will loosen anything that has dried onto the couch.
- 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. dishwashing liquid, 1 Tbsp. white vinegar and 1 cup of warm water in a small spray bottle. Next, add 1 tsp. baking soda and quickly screw the top onto the spray bottle. (Baking soda and vinegar will create a lot of bubbles when combined!)
- Wipe down couch. Spray a white cloth with the cleaning solution, and gently dab and rub any stains on the fabric. Alternatively, wipe down the entire couch with the solution for a good deep clean.
- Let the fabric dry. Do not sit or place objects on the couch for a few hours, or until the couch has dried completely.
Rubbing alcohol is your friend when you’re cleaning most microfiber couches. As we mentioned before, be sure to check that tag and test the solution before using anything 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 to the couch while you scrub). You’ll see the stains lift off onto the sponge.
- Brush in circles. The couch should dry quickly, as alcohol evaporates rapidly. Once it’s dry, use a dry scrub brush to brush the couch in a circular motion in order to fluff the fabric.
- Repeat process with distilled water. If there are any water stains on the couch (and your couch allows both water and solvent cleaning), follow the same process using distilled water. Spray, scrub, then brush after the fabric has dried.
Leather couches open the book to a whole list of cleaning options, as leather comes in a variety of different finishes. When determining how to clean a leather couch, keep in mind that methods will vary significantly from one couch to another. These cleaning instructions are specifically intended for cleaning protected leather, which is most common and simpler to clean than other types of leather. If you have an unprotected leather couch, consult the company’s suggestions for cleaning. Finally, be sure to check that cleaning label and test cleaning products in an inconspicuous spot on the couch first.
- 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.