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How to Quickly and Easily Wash Couch Cushion Covers, According to a Pro

gray couch in living room with wall art

Julia Robbs

Aside from your bed, your couches are most likely one of the most used pieces of furniture in your home. With most household gatherings happening on living room seating, it’s one of the easiest places in your home to buildup dirt and stains, whether it’s from a spilled glass of wine, children playing on the furniture, or from the paws of your four-legged friends. Not to mention, upholstery like couches can also trap unwanted odors if they’re not cleaned regularly. 

But, unlike bedding that can easily be thrown in the wash, couch cushions can be another story. Sometimes, couch cushions allow you to simply throw the covers in the wash while others require spot cleaning with a mild detergent.

For your go-to guide on how to clean your couch cushions, we spoke with Jackie Hirschhaut of American Home Furnishings Alliance. Here’s everything you need to know about cleaning your couch cushions.

Meet the Expert

Jackie Hirschhaut is the Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing at the American Home Furnishings Alliance, an organization that works with the leading upholstery producers in the country. Jackie is also a former upholstery editor at a home furnishings trade publication.

How Often Should You Clean Your Couch Cushion Covers? 

When it comes to cleaning your couch cushions, how often depends on how much the couch is used and how frequently you’re dealing with stains. Typically, you should aim to wash couch cushion covers every six months or so, but you may have to up your cleaning schedule if you’re dealing with more high-traffic living rooms. 

Additionally, Hirschhaut recommends a few more tasks to add to your couch cushion cleaning list that you can do on a monthly basis. “The general rule of thumb advises that cushions are vacuumed monthly to remove dust and light dirt as a means of extending the good looks of the seating,” Hirschhaut shares. “In addition, cushions should be flipped and fluffed each month to maintain the integrity of the seat core and avoid excessive wear and wrinkling of the cover fabric.”

Hirschhaut also recommends using a professional couch cleaning service at least once a year to get a deeper clean.

off white couch in bright living room with black accents

Michelle Berwick Design

How to Easily Clean Couch Cushion Covers

One of the easiest ways to clean your couch cushion covers with soap and water. This method works well with most spills.

Things You'll Need

  • Dry cloths
  • Mild enzyme detergent, like dishwashing liquid
  • Cup of lukewarm water 
  • Spray bottle
  • Sponge or soft bristle brush

Step 1: Prep the Area

Brush off any loose dirt on the couch cushion. Then, dab the spill with a clean and dry cloth. 

Step 2: Make a Cleaning Solution

Create a cleaning solution with a ratio of ¼ teaspoon of a mild, enzyme detergent like dishwashing liquid to one cup of lukewarm water. Add the solution to a spray bottle and mist the spill and/or stain. 

Step 3: Brush the Cushion Cover

Using a sponge or soft bristle brush, work the solution into the soiled area but make sure not to scrub. When cleaning spills, make sure to blot the stain rather than rubbing it. Rubbing it will only deepen the stain.

Step 4: Rinse and Repeat

Remove soap residue with a light rinse of water. Blot the excess moisture with a clean cloth or sponge. Allow the fabric to air dry and repeat the steps as needed. 

dark gray couch in living room with black door frames

Light & Dwell

How to Clean Covers That Can Handle Bleach

Some couch cushion materials can be cleaned with bleach without damaging the fabric. Here’s the best way to clean them. 

 Things You’ll Need

  • Dry cloths
  • Bleach
  • Mild soap
  • Water
  • Spray bottle 
  • Sponge or soft bristle brush

Step 1: Prep the Area

Blot (don't rub) liquid spills with a clean, dry cloth, and brush off any loose debris.

Step 2: Create a Bleach Solution

Prepare a bleach cleaning solution of one cup of bleach and 1/4 cup mild soap per gallon of water. 

 Step 3: Mist and Wait 

Apply a light mist of the bleach solution using a spray bottle. Allow the solution to soak into the fabric for 15 minutes. 

 Step 4: Lightly Scrub

Work the solution into the affected area by lightly scrubbing the area with a sponge or soft bristle brush. 

Make sure to work from the outside of the stain inward so as not to spread the stain, and be sure to rinse your sponge or brush frequently. 

Step 5: Rinse and Air Dry 

Blot and thoroughly rinse the fabric with water until the stain is cleaned. Make sure all the bleach is rinsed off of the fabric and allow the cushion to air dry.

light gray couch in living room with black and white wall art and plant

Hannah Tyler Designs

How to Clean Different Types of Couch Cushion Fabric

Our previously mentioned methods are quick and easy couch cushion cleaning solutions, but keep in mind the specific type of fabric you’re working with. When it comes to safely spot cleaning, you should check out your upholstery’s cleaning code, which is unique to each type of fabric. As always, make sure to spot test an inconspicuous area before proceeding with any of these cleaning methods.

Spot test cleaning products or solutions on a discreet area of the couch cushion to check colorfastness, which is the resistance to color fading or running.

Cleaning Code S

Cleaning code S, which stands for “solvent," means that the fabric should be dry cleaned. If you need to spot clean, Hirschhaut recommends using a mild, water-free solvent or dry cleaning product. You’re going to want to avoid steam or water-based cleaners, as they may cause shrinkage or staining.

Cleaning Code WS

Cleaning code WS means you can use a mix of a water-based cleaning agent and a water-free solvent or dry cleaning product. Make sure not to saturate any spots or stains. If you’re working with pile fabrics, you can use a non-metallic, stiff-bristle brush to get your couch cushion looking good as new, according to Hirschhaut. 

When cleaning code S or WS, clean only in a well-ventilated room and avoid any products containing carbon tetrachloride or other toxic materials.

Cleaning Code W

Cleaning code W means the upholstery can be cleaned with water-based solutions and is one of the easiest types of fabric to clean. Hirschhaut says you can spot clean code W fabrics with the foam of cleaning agents like mild detergent or non-solvent upholstery shampoo products.

After applying the foam, brush in a circular motion with a soft brush. Once the spot dries, vacuum, and you’re all set.

Cleaning Code X

Cleaning code X is one of the more difficult types of fabric to clean as you shouldn’t use foam or liquid cleaning agents, Hirschhaut says. You can clean the fabric by vacuuming or lightly brushing the material with a non-metallic, stiff bristle brush.