How to Clean a Couch Like a Pro
Whether you’re looking to just get stains out or deep clean.
After laying (and eating) on it all winter, your sofa could likely use a freshening as part of your annual spring cleaning. Whether you need to remove stubborn stains or vacuum out the surprising number of crumbs hiding in every crevice, the Cleaning Lab at the Simple Green Cleaning has got you covered. We’ve tested dozens of fabric steamers, vacuums, upholstery cleaners, stain removers, and sanitizing sprays so we know what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to your most important piece of furniture.
For a fabric sofa, you’ll want to to take six basic steps:
- Steam it.
- Vacuum it.
- Check the fabric care codes.
- Spot clean stains.
- Refresh with a portable cleaner.
- Banish bacteria and odors.
Ready? Here’s everything you need to know about cleaning a couch:
How do you clean upholstery on a couch?
Use a handheld garment steamer or bursts from your steam iron to kill any dust mites lurking near the surface. The Black + Decker Advanced Steamer performed well in our tests and comes with an attachment uniquely designed for upholstery. Go over the entire sofa allowing just the steam to touch and penetrate the fabric. If you don’t have a steamer or iron, skip this step and go straight to vacuuming.
With your vacuum’s upholstery attachment, go over the entire sofa: back, arms, skirt, and all sides of the cushions. If the cushions are removable, take them off and vacuum the fabric underneath, going as far under the back and arms as your vacuum can reach. With the crevice tool, go along the seams, around any buttons, and along the trim.
How do you get stains out of a couch?
First, check the fabric care codes to see what’s safe to use on the fabric:
- W is the easiest to clean and means water-based cleaners are okay to use.
- W/S means that either water- or solvent-based cleaners are safe.
- S means only solvent-based cleaning chemicals should be used.
- X means do nothing more than vacuum or brush the fabric.
For fabrics that can safely be cleaned with water, treat food and pet stains with a good carpet and upholstery cleaner, like GH Seal star Bissell Professional Pet Stain & Odor Remover. The enzyme-containing formula tackles both spots and the lingering odors that come with them. In a pinch, you can also use a little mild dish soap mixed in warm water. Always test any cleaner on a hidden part of the fabric for safety first.
If your cushions have removable covers, unzip them and place a paper towel between the fabric and the filling to absorb any stain and cleaner as you work. Apply the cleaner to a cloth and blot the stain carefully, working from the outside in to keep it from spreading. Apply more cleaner sparingly, if needed. Once the stain is removed, dab the area with another damp cloth to rinse thoroughly and blot dry. For “S” fabrics, remove stains with a solvent-based product according to package directions.
How do you deep clean a couch?
Once the stains are gone, if you want to give the whole piece a refresh, we recommend using a portable extraction cleaner, like Bissell’s Little Green ProHeat Portable Cleaner. These machines can help clean up dingy arms and headrests on your furniture, not to mention spots on carpets, rugs, and car interiors.
Simply dispense the cleaner and water mixture through the hose, agitate the fabric with the brush nozzle, and vacuum up the dirt into the tank. For solvent-only fabrics or if you don’t want to invest in a machine, it’s best to call in a professional for a safe and thorough cleaning.
How do you sanitize a couch?
Once your sofa is clean and dry, you can kill any lingering germs and odors on water-safe upholstery with a fabric sanitizing spray, like Tide Antibacterial Fabric Spray. It’s designed to kill 99.9% of bacteria when used as directed. Spritz from a distance of 6-8 inches away and let the fabric remain wet for five minutes to sanitize. You can also use it on pet beds, stuffed animals, kids’ sports equipment, and other hard-to-wash items — just test it in an inconspicuous area first.