How to Clean a Sofa – Various Fabric Types

Clean your sofa with these handy tips

No matter what material your sofa is, you can make sure it stays looking great when you know how to clean a sofa properly.

When we use our sofa continuously, we can have a hard time keeping it clean, free from crumbs, dust, and stains. If you picked the best sofa, but your children keep climbing all over them, your pets sleep on them, and a lot of us like to eat from our trays on our laps every now and then, it’s no wonder that they don’t stay as good as they did when they were new. It doesn’t matter whether you have a soft fabric sofa, a silky velvet sofa or a sophisticated leather sofa – we have ideas for keeping any sofa looking good!

When it comes to cleaning sofas, there is no ‘one size fits all’ rule. The type of cleaning product to use (solvent based or water based) and how best to wash your couch will depend largely on the fabric of the sofa and if the covers are loose or fitted.

Several people find the covers do not go on the same way after being washed or they look out of shape after washing them in the washing machine. In order to avoid these problems, manufacturers usually recommend dry cleaning. Some, on the other hand, swear they come out like brand new when they wash loose covers in a wool wash. Depending on your level of bravery, you might want to wash the sofa covers yourself.



A regular maintenance routine is also vital when it comes to keeping your sofa clean, so using a vacuum or brush it every week will keep it looking great and reduce the amount of dirt that accumulates and wears out your sofa’s fabric. If spills happen, dab them up with a paper towel or soft cloth, rather than rubbing at them, which can make the spill sink even deeper.

How to clean a sofa – different fabric types

Cleaning a leather sofa

Sofas made from leather are durable and easy to clean, but how can you maintain them?

1. Make sure it’s vacuumed
If you have a brush attachment for your vacuum, use it to avoid scratching your leather upholstery.

2. Remove dust
If dust has buildup, remove it with a clean cloth. Avoid using water or cleaning agents since some leathers are delicate and may stain.

3. Use a product specifically made for cleaning leather
Wipe the leather cleaner gently over the sofa using circular motions. When you use a quality care kit to clean and condition your sofa, you will be able to restore its sheen and softness. The leather should be treated twice a year with this conditioner to prevent losing its color or becoming dry.

Cleaning a fabric sofa

When you know how to clean a sofa, even light-colored fabrics, such as neutral and grey sofas can be easy to clean.

1. Remove any dirt from the surface
You should remove all pillows and throws, check the sides and back of the couch for loose change food wrappers, then vacuum it using the upholstery attachment. All cushions should be vacuumed, including the seams and crevices.

2. Examine the label
Please check the label of your sofa before you begin cleaning the covers.

  • W – Water-based cleaners are the only ones you can use. S or P indicate that it must be cleaned with solvents (only dry cleaning).
  • SW and WS indicate that you can use either a water-based or solvent-based cleaner. The use of a steam cleaner is OK as well.
  • Surfaces with an X can’t be cleaned with water or detergent – they must be professionally cleaned. To prevent stains from forming on cushions, you should wipe down the cushions with a clean, damp cloth for dust and dirt removal.

3. Eliminate stains and smells
It is possible to remove stains and spills at home with some simple remedies. White vinegar is a natural stain remover and is OK to be used on most types of upholstery fabrics. You can use a microfiber cloth to wipe the stain away gently using an equal parts vinegar and water solution (make sure the cloth is new). To remove any lingering vinegar smell, rinse the cloth with mild detergent and tepid water and allow it to air dry. Apply a sprinkling of baking soda to the sofa, wait for 15-20 minutes and then vacuum.

4. Clean it with steam
What steam does is that it will refresh it. As it steams, any bacteria and germs that are on the couch will be destroyed. Stains will also be lifted if there are any on there. You may find that steam cleaning does not completely remove stains in some cases. If that happens, you will need to go over it with a stain removal product.

Check out this “12 Step Guide to Reupholster a Chair

A guide to cleaning velvet sofas

Velvet used to be out of the question for those with pets and/or children, but these days, easy-care fabrics (most aren’t silk based) allow us to enjoy the luxurious look without having to deal with removing all the marks.

1. Clean all dirt and dust from the surface
The best way to clean a velvet sofa is by gently vacuuming it in circular motions. Another option is to use a lint roller to do the job quickly and easily – but you still need a vacuum for the hard-to-reach areas and underneath cushions.

2. Take a brush to it
Velvet-specific brushes are available which are perfect for maintaining the sofa’s sheen. When brushing, follow the pile’s direction.

3. Steam it
The manufacturer’s label will tell you whether water can be used on your sofa, so check the label before using the steamer. To prevent damaging the fabric, always use a low setting and move the steamer constantly.



How do I remove stains from my sofa?

Spills and stains must be dealt with quickly. The best way to remove a stain is to blot the fabric with water and paper towels immediately after it happens. Rubbing the spot may cause the stain to spread further. Using soapy water and a clean white towel, blot the colour until it disappears. Afterwards, dampen a colourfast cloth with boiled water from the kettle and wipe the entire panel or cushion from one seam to another to avoid water marks. As the fabric dries, this will help prevent any water stains.

What is the recommended frequency of cleaning a sofa?

In spite of how easy it is to ignore upholstery cleaning until you spill something or a stain appears, it is important to clean your sofa regularly to keep it looking as good as new; given how often your sofa is used and how much dirt and dust can build up, you should give it a nice clean every week. Your sofa’s colour and fabric will last longer if you vacuum it frequently to remove any dust or dirt.

Although you will do your best to maintain your brand-new sofa as spotless as the day you received it, over time some pesky stains are inevitable. Most of the time, you won’t have to perform a top-to-bottom deep clean, but we recommend frequent spot cleaning and fabric protection to ensure your sofa stays fresh and clean.

Here are some cleaning products that you can find at Home Depot.

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