Yes, You Should Be Cleaning Your Couch—Here's What You Need to Know

Living room with gray couch

Design: Bespoke Only; Photograph: Nicole Franzen 

There's a good chance that your couch is one of the most frequently used pieces in your house after your bed. Between afternoon naps, Saturday night movie sessions, and working from home days, your couch is always there for you. But if that beautiful green sofa you bought a few months ago already looks worse for the wear, it's time to rethink this weekend's chore list. Every six months (or whenever you have a stain), your couch should get a deep clean. 

Living room with small couch
Arbor & Co.

The good news is that deep cleaning your couch is something you can easily do on your own in under an hour. To get started, here are the materials you will need. 

Materials You'll Need to Clean Your Couch 

  1. A vacuum 
  2. Microfiber towels
  3. Paper towels 
  4. A dry brush 
  5. Dishwashing detergent 
  6. Baking soda 
  7. An enzyme-based cleaner (optional) 
  8. A handheld steam cleaner (optional) 

You probably won't need all of the above materials, depending on your couch's fabric and how soiled it is. Click through for all you need to know about cleaning your couch. 

Check Your Manufacturer's Label

Before you begin, you want to triple check your couch's care tag to see what cleaning solutions are safe on your material. Here's an easy-to-follow breakdown:

  • W: Only a water-based cleaner is safe for your couch.
  • W/S: A water-based or solvent-based cleaner is safe.
  • S: Only solvent-based cleaning chemicals are okay for your couch.
  • X: Unfortunately, this means you should do nothing more than vacuum your couch.

Once you know what is safe on your couch, you can opt for either natural, at-home solutions or a store-bought cleaning solution.

Vacuum or Brush Any Particles

The first step is to make sure all debris, pet hair, dirt, and crumbs are swept up. Use either your vacuum's upholstery tool or a handheld vacuum to gently sweep up all parts of your couch. Remove your cushions if possible and make sure to get all sides. Focus on buttons, embellishments, and seams where dirt tends to pile up.

A dry brush is a good way to loosen up caked-on debris so you can vacuum it up.

Spot Clean Any Stains

If you have pets or enjoy a good glass of wine, there's a chance you have a few spots that could use a bit of extra attention. If you catch the stain right away, use a paper towel to soak up any excess liquid. Then, mix together a few squirts of dish soap in a bowl and stir vigorously. Blot the mixture onto the stain, but do not saturate the fabric. Allow to air dry and repeat if necessary.

If you have a difficult stain, you may want to reach for a solvent-based cleaner, as long as your couch care tag says that it is safe. Look for one that targets stains and follow the instructions.

If this is your first time using a new cleaner, we recommend a spot test in an inconspicuous area of your couch to ensure you do not stain the fabric.

Option 1: Use Baking Soda

There's a reason the cleanest people never go without baking soda—you can use it in every room of the house. For an easy all-over clean, sprinkle baking soda all over your dry couch and allow it to sit for at least twenty minutes. Then, using your vacuum's attachment, sweep up all of the baking soda.

This method is great for a gentle refresh and for taking out general bad odors from your couch.

Option 2: Use a Handheld Steamer

If you have a steam cleaner, fill it with your recommended cleaning solution. If you have pets, we recommend an enzyme-based solution that can tackle lingering smells from past accidents. Vinegar is also a great substitution. Run the steam cleaner over the cushions, arms, and back of your couch, agitating where you see stains. Allow your couch to air dry and repeat if necessary.

Make Sure It's Dry

If you opted for a wet cleanse, be sure to remove the cushions and allow them to air out before placing them back on the couch. Light fabrics can be left in the sun to expedite the process, but be sure you do not replace the cushions until they are fully dry to avoid mold and mildew growth.

If cleaning your couch isn't one of the chores in your current rotation, it's time to add it. Cleaning your couch will help it hold up year after year and make it look and feel fresh for your next Netflix binge.

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