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Who remembers those uncomfortable, noisy, plastic furniture covers grandma used to protect her couch and chairs? While they’re not a bad idea to keep your furniture looking new, they aren’t really useful for the way we live today. We want our furniture, especially couches, to be comfortable, functional, and always look great.
But let’s face it, couches take a lot of abuse. They are a convenient indoor trampoline for kids, nap central for people and pets, and tend to take the place of the dining room table more often than we’d like to admit. That means couches need to be cleaned more than most other pieces of furniture. Lucky for you, we’re experts in specialty cleaning, so we’re uniquely qualified to teach you how to clean a couch!
Regular cleaning will help you avoid those tedious deep cleanings when your couch gets too dirty.
- About every week or two, remove the cushions, give them a good vacuuming, and spot treat any stains.
- Use the fabric or brush attachment to vacuum up any crumbs, dirt, and dust on the arms, back, and where the cushions go.
- Get into the nooks and crannies with your vacuum’s crevice tool.
- Spot treat any stains on the couch.
- Replace the cushions when all the upholstery is dry.
If couch care hasn’t been on your regular cleaning checklist, we get it. Now that you know, we’re sure you’ll be keeping all your upholstery cleaner more often. Now let’s learn how to clean a couch that’s already dirty for a fresh start.
How to Deep Clean a Couch
Knowing how to clean a couch as part of your weekly routine will keep the upholstery fresh and prevent buildup. But sometimes, thanks to spills or simply falling behind on the housekeeping, your couch needs a deep cleaning. No matter how long it’s been since you’ve given your couch a deep-down clean, you can use these proven methods to get it clean.
Whether your couch is made with cotton fabric, suede, or leather, the first step is to check the care label. Today’s upholstery is made from fabrics that require special laundering methods; some are dry clean, and some can’t be wet at all. Do yourself a favor and find your couch’s tag and decipher the label code first:
WS: Use a mild detergent with a steam vacuum or a dry-cleaning detergent.
S: Use a dry cleaner detergent only.
X: Use a vacuum only. No water.
W: You can use water to clean it.
The best way to clean a couch with a WS code is with safe, natural homemade cleaning solutions. Not only are these DIY couch cleaners safer than many commercial products, but they are also typically less expensive and just as effective.
DIY Couch Cleaner
There are plenty of mild, natural cleaning solutions for getting your couch clean. Depending on the type of upholstery you’re cleaning, you can safely use these everyday household products:
- Distilled white vinegar
- Baking Soda
- Liquid dish soap
- Rubbing alcohol
- Olive oil
- Linseed oil
Once you know which DIY couch cleaner is recommended for your upholstery, you’ll need a few basic tools to get the couch clean again:
- Vacuum cleaner with crevice and brush attachments
- Nylon scrub brush
- Microfiber cloths
- Empty spray bottle
Check your couch’s cleaning label, gather your supplies and tools, and let’s learn the best way to clean a couch!
How to Clean a Fabric Couch
Since most of the dirt and grime ends up on your couch cushions, we’ll start with how to clean couch cushions. If your couch’s cushion covers are removable for machine washing, you’re already ahead of the game. (Too bad we can’t just learn how to wash a couch!)
Just take the couch cushions off, turn them inside-out, and wash them on a gentle cycle with cold water (unless the manufacturer’s care label says differently). You’ll remove the cushions to clean leather and suede, then clean them the same way you clean the rest of the upholstery.
- Use a stiff, dry brush to loosen dried stains and get debris out of the corners and sides.
- Brush the couch and cushions to help bring dust and dirt to the fabric’s surface, but don’t brush too hard or you’ll damage the fabric.
- Use the vacuum cleaner brush attachment and crevice tool to get into all the nooks and crannies.
- Vacuum both sides of the cushions, the front of the couch, the arms, and the top of the back.
- Remove pet hair with a pet hair vacuum attachment or lint roller to get what the brush and vacuum missed.
- Sprinkle baking soda all over your couch and cushions and let it sit for at least 20 minutes to remove odors and work on stains.
- Vacuum up the baking soda with your vacuum’s brush attachment.
How to Clean a Couch With Leather Upholstery
- Mix equal parts of water and distilled white vinegar to create a safe, natural leather cleaner.
- Dampen a microfiber cloth with your cleaning solution and rub it into the leather.
- Scrub gently to prevent discoloration or damage.
- Let the leather air dry.
- Mix one part white vinegar and two parts linseed oil in a spray bottle.
- Spray the solution onto a dry microfiber cloth and gently rub the oil and vinegar into the leather.
- Wait about 10 minutes, and then buff the finish to a nice shine with a dry microfiber cloth.
The Best Way to Clean a Couch With Suede Upholstery
- Use your vacuum’s brush attachment to remove dirt, dust, and hair gently.
- Dampen a microfiber cloth and wring out excess water.
- Wipe down the couch starting from the top down.
- Scrub the armrests gently to remove buildup and dirt.
- Rinse your cloth often, and be sure not to get the suede too wet.
How to Clean Couch Stains
To give your couch the deepest clean will often mean removing stains. Try your hand at some homemade stain removers—just make sure to spot-check first!
- For fabric upholstery, use a mixture of 1/4 cup vinegar, 3/4 cup water, and 1 tbsp of dish soap in a spray bottle to mist the area and scrub with a microfiber cloth until the stain lifts.
- For synthetic materials, decrease the soap to 1/2 tbsp.
- For leather upholstery, a mixture of 1/2 cup olive oil, and 1/4 cup vinegar works great.
- For suede, mix equal parts of water and rubbing alcohol, and dab up stubborn stains.
Sometimes a spot treatment just won’t cut it. Here’s how to deep clean a couch quickly and easily if your couch’s tag is marked W or WS. Pick a nice day, throw open the windows, and use a garment steamer. You’ll steam the entire couch, so don’t let things get too soaked. You only want enough moisture to loosen dirt, grime, and stains. Change any microfiber cloths often and point a fan at the couch to help it dry completely.