Spring Cleaning Day 19: Thoroughly Clean Your Couch (2023)

Spring Cleaning Day 19: Thoroughly Clean Your Couch (1)

The couch in your living room is used a lot, and over the past few years, it's probably gotten a little more worn than usual. Let's clean it up.

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A well-used couch can look warm and cozy, but it's bound to need a deep cleaning. Here's everything you need to do to make it look fresh and showroom new again.

table of contents

What you need to deep clean your sofa
How to deep clean your sofa
Spot test all cleaning products
How to Pre-Clean Your Sofa Before a Deep Clean
How to clean your sofa "dry"
How to clean your sofa with water

What you need to deep clean your sofa

For today's cleaning tutorial, let's assume you're not cleaning a couch in a room that's rarely used and only has guests a few times a year for the Christmas parties. We're assuming you're dealing with the sofa (and maybe the chairs too!) in the most used space in your home.

That means you're dealing with everyday use, skin oil buildup, maybe a few food stains or crumbs (hey, we're not judging), and all the wear and tear that comes with a piece of furniture that receives significant use.

With that in mind, the list of supplies below covers everything you need to give your couch a makeover.

  • Gloves
  • Aspray bottle
  • white vinegar
  • dish soap
  • Bicarbonateodry carpet cleaning powder
  • Afine mesh strainer
  • AVacuum cleaner with hose and accessories
  • ANylon and horsehair cleaning brush
  • Alint brush

Most of the above will look familiar if you've already followed through withour mattress deep cleaning guide. The principles behind cleaning a mattress and cleaning a sofa are quite similar.

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While the items above cover most cleaning situations, there are some additional deep cleaning tools you might want to have if you're dealing with particularly heavy stains (especially pet stains).

  • Eenzymatic cleaner
  • APortableoupholstery cleaning machine

Removing really tough stains without calling a professional cleaning company requires putting in more cleaning solution, but drenching your couch in cleaner is a recipe for disaster. That's where having an upholstery cleaning machine on hand is a lifesaver.

If you're only going to be dealing with minor stains and only on your couch or other furniture here or there, it's probably wise to opt for a portable option like the venerableLimpador Bissel "Little Green".

Bissel Little Green cleaning machine

It's compact, yet powerful enough to handle big smudges.

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The small space-saving cleaner is ideal for apartment dwellers or anyone who doesn't need a device that can clean large rugs and rugs.

For those who would like to be able to not only vacuum a sofa stain, but also handle the big mess pets and children can make on carpets and rugs, an upright machine like theBissel ProHeat 2X RevolutionWorth its weight in gold.

We especially love the ProHeat 2X because the bottom assembly design is absolutely brilliant: you can easily remove the entire front guard without tools to remove hair and clogs.


How to deep clean your sofa

Spring Cleaning Day 19: Thoroughly Clean Your Couch (5)

When it comes to deep cleaning your sofa, there are three cleaning steps: pre-cleaning, dry cleaning and wet cleaning.

Everyone will need pre-cleaning, some people will find dry cleaning sufficient, and for severe stains, wet cleaning is necessary. We suggest going through all three sections, but if you're struggling with visible stains, you can skip straight from pre-cleaning your sofa to wet cleaning.

Spot test all cleaning products

However, before we dive into cleaning, it's important to match your cleaning method to the materials you're cleaning. While we've never had a situation where we've combined a cleaner with the absolutely wrong type of fabric and it's left us with streaks, stains, or discoloration, it's worth doing a spot test.

Some sofas have a little extra fabric swatch sewn into one of the inside seams under the cushions just for this purpose. (No, really! We promise! That weird little "couch appendage" tab you've always wondered about is there expressly for you to try the cleaning products on.)

Other than that, you can try a cleaner on a part of the sofa that is not visible. Some good "invisible" spots to try include the back edge of the cushions and the areas on the sides and back of the sofa that are covered by the cushions when the sofa is assembled.

We've purposefully chosen cleaning solutions and powders that are gentle enough for just about any material, but it's always worth trying and playing it safe.

How to Pre-Clean Your Sofa Before a Deep Clean

Pre-cleaning is a lot like the regular quick touch-up cleaning you'd do if you don't feel like removing stains and odors.

  1. If you have pets, start by brushing the sofa surfaces with the lint brush to remove pet hair.
  2. Follow the brushing routine to remove hair by vacuuming the sofa with the hose and upholstery tool (or flat ladder). Vacuum all surfaces thoroughly.
  3. Lift or remove pad and vacuum under pad and in all crevices with crevice tool.
  4. For dust and debris in sofa seams, it can be helpful to tap the surface lightly, using your hand like a rug beater, to remove debris from the seam. Light brushing with your nylon or horsehair grooming brush can also help in this case.

How to "Dry Clean" Your Sofa

Most often, "dry cleaning" refers to sending clothing, bedding, or curtains to a dry cleaning facility where they can be cleaned with a waterless chemical solution. In the context we're working here, dry cleaning means using completely dry powders to absorb stains and odors.

For this step, you can use baking soda, or for dirtier or smellier sofas, you can use a dry carpet and upholstery cleaning powder. Both will work, but dry carpet powder will have some additional benefits, such as better moisture absorption, cleaning agents that remove stains, and a fragrance to give your furniture a fresher scent.

Regardless of which one you choose, you should use a mesh filter to apply the powder to create even coverage on all surfaces. Applying manually is cumbersome and inconsistent.

  1. Using the mesh filter, gently shake the powder onto the surface of the sofa. Do your best to evenly cover each surface.
  2. Gently brush the dust with the cleaning brush so that the dust is applied to the fabric and seams of the sofa. Use short strokes and lift the brush frequently so you don't just dust off the snow on the couch.
  3. Wait 20-30 minutes. If the sofa has a particularly strong odor, you can leave it on longer.
  4. Vacuum the couch thoroughly to remove dust. When you think you're done, take another pass. To determine if you've actually absorbed all of the residual dust, tap the sofa's surfaces firmly with your hand to see if any dust swells or if your hand has a chalky texture.

For sofas that don't have clearly visible stains and just need a refresh, the broad dusting everywhere approach is usually sufficient.

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How to clean your sofa with water

Spring Cleaning Day 19: Thoroughly Clean Your Couch (6)

When it comes to using liquids to clean your sofa, there are two approaches. You can use a superficial method to clean the parts that require special attention (like a single sofa cushion that got stained), or you can clean the entire sofa, cushions and all.

If you have the time and tools for this, it is advisable to clean the entire sofa using the same method. This ensures that dirt, dust and stains are evenly removed (so that a particular cushion doesn't look suspiciously brighter and cleaner than the others) and ensures that any changes to the sofa's fabric or texture are consistent throughout the set. . again, nothing stands out.

There are a few things you should keep in mind when cleaning your sofa with a solution. First, use the smallest amount of cleaning solution possible for the task at hand. Saturating your sofa is a recipe for disaster, as it takes a long time to dry (and can get moldy in the process), and a heavily saturated sofa will smell like cleaning solution for a long time.

Second, and if you want the biggest pro tip out of the entire guide, here it is, always,Always, clean the entire area where the stain is. If the stain is on the front of the pillow, clean the entire surface of the pillow. If on top of a cushion, clean the entire fabric panel, seam by seam, of that cushion. Is the stain behind the couch? you cleanwhole back.

Advice:To avoid water stains and stain rings, always clean the entire section of whatever part of the sofa you are cleaning, even if the stain is small.

Why? You clean this way because if you only clean the literal spot where the stain is, you'll almost always end up with a ring. The solution itself, cleaning agents in the solution, and soil debris will migrate to the edge of the wetted area and dry out. This results in a very clean center point, ring, and the space beyond the cleaning area that is not touched.

Only clearing the entire "dashboard" (whatever the boundary of that particular area is) will prevent this. This way the solution will dry on the visual edge of the pillow/cushion/sofa and won't bulge. It doesn't matter if you use a spray bottle and cleaning brush or a full upholstery cleaning machine - your technique should be edge-to-edge, panel-to-panel, every time.

Those handy (and sweaty!) tips out of the way, here's how to clean your sofa with water.

  1. Fill the spray bottle with warm water, a few drops of dish soap, and a quarter cup of vinegar. If using an upholstery machine, fill it with warm water and the manufacturer's recommended cleaning solution (or the enzymatic cleaner recommended above).
  2. Using your upholstery cleaner's spray bottle or spray attachment, lightly spray the surface in a steady pattern to wet it evenly. Remember you want full coverage on all panels/sections of the couch. Resist the temptation to over-focus your efforts on specific spots or marks.
  3. Use your cleaning brush to lightly brush the fabric and massage the cleaning solution into the upholstery.
  4. If you used a hand sprayer, you'll need to let the couch dry.
  5. If you use an upholstery cleaning machine, you can use the "rinse" feature if available, or simply empty the tank and replace the cleaning solution with clean warm water for a second pass with clean water. Use the suction hose to suck as much moisture out of the cushions and sofa as possible.
  6. Lifting the pillows instead of laying them flat and pushing them against the adjacent fabric will speed up the drying time.
  7. Any additional drying booster, such as turning on the ceiling fan, directing a box fan at the sofa, or opening the windows on a dry, windy day, always comes in handy.
  8. After wet cleaning, when the fabric is completely dry, it is useful to vacuum well to fluff and soften the sofa fibers.

When you clean your sofa with water, it is common for the sofa to have an odor (both from the wet fabric and the cleaner itself), but this should soon dissipate.

We've deep cleaned enough furniture, including sofas, in our day to know how much effort you've just put into renovating your sofa. So we assure you it was totally worth it and tomorrow when you're lounging on the couch (possibly because your back is sore from cleaning it) you'll be thinking, "Wow, this smells amazing!" and be glad you worked on it today.

As always, you can follow us on ourspring cleaning challengehome page or get the lessons along with all our other great content,delivered straight to your inbox!


How do you completely clean a couch? ›

  1. Use a hand vacuum or the brush attachment on your vacuum to clean debris and dirt from the sofa surface. ...
  2. Wipe down the sofa feet and other non-fabric parts of the sofa with a solution of warm water and liquid dish soap. ...
  3. WS: Use a mild detergent with a steam vacuum or a dry-cleaning detergent. ...
  4. Let the Couch Dry.

What can I use to deep clean my couch? ›

Use a White Vinegar All-Purpose Cleaner

Mix warm water and distilled white vinegar in a 10:1 ratio in a spray bottle. Add a few drops of mild dish detergent as desired for a grease-busting boost. After testing the cleaner in an out-of-the-way spot, lightly spray the entire sofa.

How often should you deep clean your couch? ›

You don't need to wash your couch cushions or do a deep couch clean very often. Unless you're particularly susceptible to allergens, you should only deep clean your couch once or twice a year. Between deep cleans, it's a good idea to perform quicker, surface cleanings every 3-4 weeks.

How long does sofa take to dry after cleaning? ›

Upholstery will take 4 - 5 hours to dry on average. Curtains, leather and mattresses can be ready for use almost immediately following the cleaning. Drying times can vary due to soling and staining levels, humidity, ventilation and temperature.

Can I clean my couch myself? ›

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.

Can you steam clean a couch? ›

Steam cleaning removes stubborn tough stains, dirt, grease and more while also sanitizing surfaces by removing allergens and pathogens. One of the most useful applications of steam cleaning units is to clean upholstery, fabric furniture and mattresses.

What is the cheapest way to deep clean a couch? ›

Vinegar and Soap Solution: Mix one cup warm water, 1/4 cup of white vinegar, and a tablespoon of Castile soap. If you don't have Castile soap, use mild dish detergent. Put the mixture inside a spray bottle or a bowl. Spray or brush on the solution to any stained areas.

How do you clean a sofa without soaking it? ›

  1. Vacuum the Sofa. Regular vacuuming removes dust and dirt that will eventually settle into the upholstery leaving it dull and dirty. ...
  2. Improve Air Circulation and Eliminate Hazards. ...
  3. Do a Test Spot With the Dry Cleaning Solvent. ...
  4. Spot Clean Stains and Heavily Soiled Areas. ...
  5. Dry the Upholstery.
Aug 14, 2022

Should I shampoo or steam clean my couch? ›

Upholstery cleaning is a good option for removing tough dirt and stains and thorough disinfection, while steam cleaning is a good option for killing germs and disinfecting surfaces quickly and efficiently. Yearly steaming is recommended for furniture to keep them clean and disinfected.

How can you tell if a couch is dirty? ›

Just give a pat to the sofa cushion under a bright light and you'd likely see a large cloud of dust fly into the air. Dust particles are trapped deep in the sofa and are not easily visible. Vacuuming regularly will help with ridding the surface dust and debris but will not be able to get to dust trapped deep inside.

Is it worth cleaning a sofa? ›

It's always worth deep-cleaning upholstery before you consider replacing dull and dirty furniture. Dust and grime build up over time, especially if you have children or pets. A professional deep-clean removes this build-up safely and effectively.

Why does my sofa feel rough after cleaning? ›

Let it dry properly after cleaning

If you sit on the couch or place any kind of object on it before it completely dries out, the material can become rough. Always give enough time to your couch to get dry properly.

Why is my couch stiff after cleaning? ›

Restore The Fluff

After cleaning microfiber, the fabric may feel stiff to the touch after it dries. But it's easy to soften it back up, and you only need a soft scrub brush to do it. Rub the fibers gently with a soft brush to fluff up the fibers of the fabric.

What happens if you don't clean your couch? ›

Just like cleaning your bedding, cleaning your couch can help remove dust mites, pet dander, and other allergens. According to Wirecutter, sofas can also become dingy over time if they aren't cleaned regularly — so cleaning them is important for both hygiene and aesthetics.

How do you deodorize a couch? ›

To get rid of smell in couch, sprinkle baking soda generously on cushions, in crevices, and especially on areas with a stain. Give the baking soda some time to work –about an hour or so — then vacuum up the remains.

How long does it take to clean a couch? ›

How long it takes to clean your upholstered furniture varies by the method your professional uses as well as how dirty the fabric is and how much upholstery needs to be cleaned. The average time for upholstery can range from 30-60 minutes or longer in rare cases.

How do you disinfect a couch quickly? ›

The best disinfectant spray for a couch is Lysol Disinfecting Spray. Lysol will kill up to 99% of germs, viruses, and bacteria and is safe for most fabrics. To sanitize with it, you'll need to spray your couch thoroughly (but not saturate it) and allow the spray to air dry.

Where does the dirt go when you steam clean? ›

So, where does the dirt go when you steam clean? Actually, it doesn't go anywhere. Instead, the heat and vapour of steam cleaning ensure that all the unwanted substances or stains are fully broken down and easy to get rid of.

How do professionals clean upholstery? ›

Most professional upholstery cleaning services use a process called hot water extraction. Their machine injects hot water and cleaning solution into the fibers of your upholstery to dislodge particles hiding there. Then it all gets sucked up with a powerful vacuum.

Can I use my Shark steam mop on my sofa? ›

Shark's® ingenious Lift-Away™ Professional Steam Pocket® Mop is ideal for cleaning upholstery, as it features a detachable, handheld steam cleaner that is perfect for reaching all those hidden nooks and crannies that sofas tend to have.

How do you deep clean a couch without a machine? ›

How to clean upholstery without a machine
  1. Use a firm-bristled brush to remove any crumbs or loose dirt.
  2. Vacuum the couch using the brush attachment.
  3. Spot treat stubborn stains with a suitable cleaning solution.
  4. Allow the couch to air dry.
Jul 14, 2021

Can I clean my couch with Dawn and water? ›

Dish soap + water

If your couch has a W or W/S tag, you can simply scrub it with dish soap (we like Dawn) and water. First, conduct the quick clean. Dry brush and vacuum loose debris.

What is the best homemade upholstery cleaner? ›

Mix 1/2 cup of rubbing alcohol, 1/2 cup of white vinegar, and about 1 cup of water. Make sure to give it a good shake before applying it to your upholstery. If you're dealing with tough stains, you can add a little less water to your mixture.

How do you know if your couch has bugs? ›

You can tell if furniture has bed bugs by looking for droppings near or on the furniture. Bed bug feces resemble small black dots and they are often found underneath tables or near seams. The droppings may also be found inside nooks and crannies in your furniture.

How do you clean a fabric couch naturally? ›

Take a teaspoon of washing-up liquid, white vinegar, baking soda and warm water and mix together into a lather (the mixture should froth up as the baking soda and vinegar react with one another). Then, apply directly to any stains or smudges that you can spot on your fabric sofa. Leave to dry out for around 10 minutes.

What do professionals use to clean furniture? ›

Steam cleaning, also called hot water extraction, entails the use of hot water to get rid of stains and germs from the upholstery. It's effective for cleaning upholstery made of polyester, cotton, wool and some other types.

What is professional sofa cleaning? ›

Getting a professional sofa cleaning is a process of deep cleaning your upholstered furniture using specialized equipment and cleaning solutions. It is designed to help keep your furniture in tip-top condition to prevent dirt, dust, and other debris from accumulating and causing potential health risks.

What is the easiest type of couch to clean? ›

Polyester, leather, nylon, and acrylic are a few fabrics that are both durable and easy to clean.

How can I make my couch super soft? ›

Large, fluffy pillows with feather-down inserts are an easy way to make your sofa feel a bit softer,” said designer Maggie Griffin. Pile them on, and don't be afraid of larger and longer lumbar styles for extra comfort.

How do you clean filthy upholstery? ›

How to Clean Fabric Upholstery
  1. Step 1: Vacuum up dust and dirt particles. ...
  2. Step 2: Blast out hidden dust with compressed air. ...
  3. Step 3: Soap suds are your upholstery's friend. ...
  4. Step 4: Leave it to dry. ...
  5. Step 5: If it's still not clean, try steam.

Do couches get softer with time? ›

a brand new sofa cushion with a hardness of 200 Newtons will be extremely hard on day one, however after several weeks of use you will find it start to soften off a little; after several years of use it will have softened considerable compared to when it was brand new.

What does vinegar do to a couch? ›

Cleaning couches and upholstery with vinegar

But if you're looking for a quick refresh, vinegar can tackle that mild, stale sofa smell. As always, check the label on your couch first – some upholstery is not compatible with water-based cleaning solutions (steer clear if the label has a S or X on it).

Why is my microfiber not soft after cleaning? ›

Be sure to apply the product according to the manufacturer's instructions. If you notice that your microfiber fabric feels stiff or tough after cleaning, the fibers might be tangled together. Fix this by running a fine-tooth comb or a dry sponge over the surface until it's back to its soft state.

Can you make a couch firm again? ›

Replace the old couch cushion filling with new foam inserts. Standard couch cushion sizes are available in high-quality foam pieces, or you can cut a custom design to fit an irregular cushion size. Choose a foam insert for the seat and back cushions based on the firmness you prefer.

Does vacuuming a couch clean it? ›

Vacuuming prevents dirt from becoming embedded in fibers, and it makes a big difference in the rate at which your couch becomes dingy. Stains are also going to be more difficult to clean if there is hair, fur, lint, dust, or other debris in the way.

Can bacteria live on a couch? ›

From carpets and upholstered furniture to mattresses, curtains and bedspreads, soft surfaces, just like all hard surfaces, are potential reservoirs of harmful bacteria that can cause infection.

How often should you get a couch? ›

How often should you replace a sofa? The common consensus is that an average sofa will remain in prime condition for around seven years, after which a drop-off will begin. A top-quality sofa might even see you through 15 years of family life, but even that will succumb to sagging eventually.

How do you get the smell out of a fabric couch? ›

A sprinkle of baking soda

Before you go to bed, just sprinkle a layer of baking soda on the sofa. Then, in the morning, once the powder has had time to work its magic, you simply vacuum up the residue. The baking soda will neutralise the smell, leaving your sofa fresh and odour-free.

Can I use a carpet cleaner on my couch? ›

One most certainly can use a carpet cleaner to clean a couch. Carpet cleaners usually come with an upholstery attachment that is gentle enough to clean the sofa and get into all the nicks and folds. The same cleaning solution can be used; the only determining factor is the sofa's material.

How do you deodorize and sanitize a couch? ›

Most fabric upholstery should do fine with the following cleaning mixture: Vinegar and Soap Solution: Mix one cup warm water, 1/4 cup of white vinegar, and a tablespoon of Castile soap. If you don't have Castile soap, use mild dish detergent. Put the mixture inside a spray bottle or a bowl.

How can I make my couch smell good again? ›

Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle, and douse your couch with the solution. Let the sofa dry completely. If used too soon, the wet areas of your sofa can trap more unwanted scents and dirt.
Distilled White Vinegar
  1. A small container of baking soda.
  2. White distilled vinegar.
  3. Water.
  4. A spray bottle.
Jul 30, 2021

What is the best product to get smell out of couch? ›

The 17 best odor eliminators for every gross smell, from cat pee...
  • Ozium Air Sanitizer Spray. ...
  • Lysol Disinfectant Spray. ...
  • DampRid Moisture Absorber With Activated Charcoal. ...
  • DampRid Fresh Scent Hanging Moisture Absorber, 3-Pack. ...
  • Harris Cleaning Vinegar. ...
  • Zero Odor Laundry Odor Eliminator.
Feb 3, 2023

Can I clean my couch with Dawn? ›

If your couch has a W or W/S tag, you can simply scrub it with dish soap (we like Dawn) and water. First, conduct the quick clean. Dry brush and vacuum loose debris.

Can you use laundry detergent in a couch cleaner? ›

Place a laundry detergent pod in a bowl, then pour over boiling water to dissolve it. Wrap a microfiber cloth around a pot lid, tying the opposite corners together, to use as an oversized scrub brush. Dip the lid into the detergent solution, then use it to scrub your couch cushions and frame.

How do you disinfect a couch and carpet? ›

Steam cleaning is the best way to sanitize carpets at home. This is because steam at high temperatures (212 °F or above) kills viruses and bacteria. Some people recommend mixing hot water and white vinegar for better results. Just make sure to follow the manufacturer's recommendations regarding the entire process.

What is best for sofa disinfect? ›

Alcohol Disinfectant: To make this sofa disinfectant, mix 2 cups of rubbing alcohol with 1 cup of water. Alcohol acts well against viruses. Vinegar Sanitizer and Disinfectant: To make this disinfectant, mix 1 cup of white vinegar with 1 cup of water. Vinegar is quite effective in killing dust mites and bacteria.

Does Lysol spray disinfect couches? ›

For areas like your couch and carpet that can't be wiped down, you can use a disinfectant spray, like Lysol, to go after unseen germs. I suggest spraying in a sweeping motion to cover the entire surface, then let it completely dry before sitting down or walking on the surface.

Will Lysol disinfect a couch? ›

A: Yes, you can spray Lysol on upholstery, carpet, curtains, bedding etc..kills germs, smells great.


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