That sofa is a place where you and your loved ones get together to watch Netflix, catch up, play games, and more, often with drinks and snacks in hand. As such, it is also a place where chips, popcorn kernels and cookie crumbs land on the couch or get caught between the pillows. Not to mention, the occasional juice or wine spill that might happen during a rowdy game board or an unfortunate accident.
Vacuuming your fabric sofa or wiping down your faux leather sofa can remove light dirt, grime, and some stray pet hair, but to remove stains, spills, and pet odors, you’ll need a deeper cleaning. Every six months or so, follow this step-by-step guide on how to clean a couch — regardless of fabric — with Carolyn Forteexecutive director of Good Housekeeping Institute Home Care & Cleaning Lab, to get your living room ready for weekend movies.
Whether you’re trying to deal with a specific stain on your cushions or want to freshen up your entire sofa, the first thing you’ll want to do is check the sofa care label to see what cleaning methods and products are safe to use on the fabric. .
Code used by the upholstered furniture industry:
- W are the easiest to clean and mean water-based cleaners can be used.
- W/S means water- or solvent-based cleaners are safe.
- S meaning only solvent-based cleaning chemicals should be used.
- X means doing nothing but vacuuming or brushing the cloth.
After checking the care label, follow the guidelines below for fabric, microfiber, and leather sofas.
How to clean microfiber cloths and sofas:
- Steam the couch. Use handheld clothes steamer or a blast from your steam iron to kill surface dust mites. Go all over the couch, letting the steam touch and penetrate the fabric. If you don’t have a steamer or ironskip this step and go straight to vacuuming.
- Vacuum the coating. With your vacuum cleaner upholstery, check the entire sofa: back, arms, skirt and pillows. If the pillow is removable, remove it and suck up the fabric underneath, as far under your back and arms as possible. With the slit tool, follow the seams, around any buttons, and along the trim.
- Test hidden spots. Be sure to test the upholstery cleaner or whatever cleaning tool you choose on a hidden area first, to make sure it’s safe for the fabric and won’t cause water spots or discoloration.
- Clean stains. For fabrics that are safe to clean with water, treat food and pet stains with a formula containing enzymes such as Bissell Professional Pet Stain & Odor Remover follows package directions. In a pinch, mix ¼ teaspoon of mild dish soap with one cup of warm water. If your pillow has a removable cover, unzip it and place a paper towel between the fabric and the filling to absorb excess moisture. Apply the cleaner to the cloth and carefully blot the stain, working from the outside in. Once the stain is gone, dab the area with another damp cloth to rinse thoroughly and dry. For “S” fabrics, treat the stain according to package directions with a solvent-based product such as ForceField Dry Cleaning Liquid for Delicate Fabrics.
- Clean dirty armrests and headrests. For water-resistant fabrics, use a portable extraction cleaner such as Bissell’s Little Green ProHeat Portable Cleaner. Simply dispense the cleaning mixture and water through the hose, agitate the cloth with the brush nozzle, and suck up dirt into the tank. For solvent-only fabrics, we recommend contacting a professional for a safe and thorough cleaning.
- Clean the couch. Once your sofa is clean and dry, kill any remaining bacteria and deodorize the waterproof upholstery with a fabric cleaning spray such as, GH Seal star Tide Antibacterial Fabric Spray.
How to clean a leather sofa:
Cleaning leather sofa it may seem intimidating at first, but it’s pretty easy especially if there are no stains to remove. For regular cleaning, follow the steps below:
- Wipe the cloth with a microfiber cloth to remove crumbs or dirt.
- Sofa vacuum use the slit tool to go down seams, around any buttons, and along trims.
- Rub the skin cleanser into the skin one small area at a time, using a soft damp cloth. We love the GH Seal Star Weiman Leather Cleanser and ConditionerYou can also use a mild soap solution.
- Rinse the cleaner or soap with another damp cloth until clean. Rub with a dry cloth. If necessary, check the arms and headrest several times.
- Apply a protectant to condition the skin, such as the GH Seal star Furniture Clinic Leather Protection Creamto make it easier to remove future stains.
How to get rid of the smell from the sofa fabric:
In between your deep cleanings, refresh your sofa regularly, especially immediately after it gives off an unwanted odor. Whatever the reason — greasy food, wet dogs, or messy kids — you can get rid of odors by sprinkling baking soda all over your couch, or by spraying it with GH Seal Star Febreze FABRIC. Unlike some air fresheners, this product doesn’t just mask odors; they really got rid of it.
Other sofa cleaning tips:
- If you just need to remove a few crumbs or stray hairs from a fabric sofa, a lint roller is the easiest way to quickly catch small debris.
- For larger amounts of pet dander or crumbs, great handheld vacuum can quickly clean without the need to take out a full-size vacuum cleaner.
- An unfinished leather sofa with stains will most likely require a call to a professional to have the job done
Amanda Garrity is a lifestyle writer and editor with over seven years experience, including five years on staff at Good housekeeping, where she covers all things home and the holidays, including the latest interior design trends, inspiring DIY ideas, and gift guides for any (and every) occasion. She also has a soft spot for fun TV shows, so you can catch her writing about popular shows like Virgin River, sweet Magnolias, Hallmark channel When Calling Heart and much more.
Contributing Author and Analyst
Jamie Kim is a consumer product expert with over 17 years of experience in product development and manufacturing. He has held leading roles in mid-sized consumer goods companies and one of the most recognized and largest clothing brands in the world. Jamie has contributed to several GH Institute Labs, including Kitchen Equipment, Media and Technology, Textiles and Home Appliances. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, traveling and playing sports.