How To Clean A Sofa or Couch

how to clean a sofa

The most important thing when working out how to clean a sofa or couch is to take great care according to the type of covering you have and using the correct cleaning materials so that you don’t risk making it worse than it already is or worse damaging it permanently.

A leather sofa will need to be dealt with very differently from a fabric sofa and if you have a velvet covering then it’s different again.

This article will breakdown the best cleaning method for the most popular types of sofa covering and how to get them clean even if they have ingrained dirt and stains that have built up over the years.

Once you have it clean then maintaining it and cleaning it annually will stop it ever getting into a horrible condition and makes it easier to clean than if you leave it for years without cleaning.

How to keep a sofa in good condition

If you clean your sofa once a year then it will last a lot longer than if you wait until it is at death’s door before trying to get dirt and stains removed that may have been there for years.

The worse condition your sofa is in, the harder it will be to bring it back to life and we know it’s a pain and life is super busy but if you want to save money in the long run then maintaining your couch on an annual basis will extend its life and how long it will be before you have to pay for a new one.

The best way to maintain a sofa is to hoover it on a weekly basis. Most people hoover the floor weekly but it can feel like too much of a pain to have to clean the sofa as well and when you look at it maybe it looks as if it doesn’t really need cleaning.

But dust and dirt will settle on the sofa daily and it will become ingrained into the fabric or leather especially when you sit down and move around effectively rubbing it in.

So when you hoover the living room give the sofa a quick going over and make it a habit to do every time you hoover the room that the sofa is in.

Don’t just use the long crevice accessory tool to get down the sides of the sofa, use any mini brush accessory tools that your vacuum cleaner has.

The best tools for cleaning sofas are the mini motorised brush tools that come with hoovers that are made to deal with pet hair.

You don’t need to have pets to benefit from the pet tool which works great on stairs and sofas.

Some of the best vacuum cleaners with tools that are great for cleaning sofas (and pet hair) are in this article:

Best vacuum cleaner for pet hair

Spending 5 minutes hoovering the sofa each week will be time well spent and will save you time and money in the long run when you come to do the annual clean as it will be a lot less dirty and a lot easier to clean.

It’s a bit like the shower. If you clean it every week then it only takes 5-10 minutes with a gentle clean but if you leave it for 2-3 weeks then it takes longer and you have to scrub harder.

How to clean a fabric sofa or couch

The most important thing by far is to never attack the stain or dirt full-on until you know that the cleaning method you use and the cleaning solution does not damage the fabric.

There are so many different colours and so many different types of fabric that you can never know for sure that your sofa won’t have an allergic reaction to whatever you put on it.

This is a method for sofas that are in pretty bad shape and have stains and dirt that have been ground in and left for a long time, maybe months or longer.

These are the things you will need:

Stain remover spray. Vanish is good but a lot of the supermarket own brands are cheaper and have the same ingredients.

A medium to hard bristle brush. Not too hard that it could damage the fabric but you are going to need to give the sofa a scrub so the bristles need to be up to the job.

Cleaning solution in a spray bottle. The cleaning solution needs to be half white vinegar (very cheap in the supermarket) and half water with literally a drop of washing up liquid. So 500ml vinegar and 500ml of vinegar.

Clean white cotton tea towel. Make sure it’s white because other colours could rub off onto your sofa and discolour it.

Test the stain remover spray on a small area first and then if it’s ok you need to soak the section of the sofa that is soiled and/or stained.

If you are cleaning the whole sofa break it down into sections of 4 or 5 areas. Don’t try and do the whole sofa at once as its too big a job.

Leave the Vanish to soak in for 5 minutes then give it a good scrub with the brush and then check that any stains are not visible anymore. If they are spray and scrub once more.

This is where you would now benefit from a carpet cleaner. It’s not essential and you are probably not going to buy one just to clean the sofa but it will make a difference.

Use the cleaning solution listed above for your carpet cleaner and if you don’t have one then put it in a spray bottle.

If you have one then go over the area you have just cleaned with the carpet cleaner and it will not only give an additional deep clean but it will suck out the moisture and wetness much better than using a towel.

These are some really good carpet cleaners that are a lot cheaper than you may think:

The best carpet cleaners

If you don’t have a carpet cleaner then spray the cleaning solution onto the area you are cleaning and leave for 10 minutes,

Then use the white towel to soak up as much of the wetness from the area you are cleaning.

Push firmly in the direction that the fabric fibre lies on the sofa and not “against the grain” so that its nice and smooth. This is important to make sure it settles properly when dry and does look ruffled.

If you follow these steps carefully then you will end up with a sofa that you won’t recognise and can often bring it up like new.

This video is a good example of the process just described:

How to clean a leather sofa

Leather is a completely different kettle of fish to fabric and it can be easy to apply the wrong thing and damage the surface.

You can also spend a lot of money on leather cleaners and protectors as well whilst these can work we have been using a much simpler method that also doesn’t cost very much either.

All you will need is some soap, water and a microfibre cloth.

Wet the soap and rub some onto the cloth and then wipe firmly over the area to clean. Use a separate damp cloth to go over the area and clean off any residual soap.

This method works particularly well if you have pets that clamber up and down and across the sofa and if you have children that may make a bit of a mess on the couch.

You’ll be surprised how dirty the water is in the washing basin when you are finished.

It’s not going to get rid of stains or dirt that has ingrained and partially damaged the leather over time. Anything like that will probably need professional restoration.

This is a good video showing this method in action:

How to clean a velvet sofa or chair

You need to apply more care when cleaning velvet as it is a much more sensitive material that is easily damaged.

The things you need are similar to the fabric sofa above and the method is best shown in this short video:

Do you have a sofa or a couch or a settee?

Such are the complexities of the English language that you can somehow have three different words for exactly the same thing.

You would have thought that there would be a difference between a sofa and a couch and a settee but there really isn’t.

Sofa and couch are the most used terms to describe the big comfy piece of furniture that sits in the living room (or is it the lounge?). The word sofa dates back to the 17th century but the use of the word today depends mostly on what part of the world you live.

In England we lean towards sofa and I have noticed that my Scottish relatives seem to use settee more.

In America they seem to favour couch to describe the long comfortable seat with arms for two or more people but it doesn’t really matter because they all mean the same thing.

Some say that sofas are more formal than couches but that’s just a load of old rubbish, they are all the same whatever one of the three you prefer to use.

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