How to Clean a Couch: A Comprehensive Guide

How to Clean a Couch

The couch is a central part of many homes – often a place for relaxing, socializing, and entertaining guests.

It also tends to be one of the most used pieces of furniture, so it’s no surprise that it can get dirty quickly.

Dust, dirt, and grime build up over time, and spills and stains can be difficult to avoid.

Luckily, cleaning a couch doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With the right tools and knowledge, you can have your couch looking fresh and clean in no time.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to clean a couch, from preparation to the final touches.

How to Clean a Couch


Before diving into the actual cleaning process, it’s important to take some preliminary steps to make sure you’re ready to go.

1. Check the Cleaning Tag

One of the most important steps is to check the cleaning tag on your couch.

This tag will tell you what kind of cleaning solution to use, and whether or not you can use water.

Here are the four codes you might see on the tag:

  • W – The couch can only be cleaned with water-based cleaners.
  • S – The couch can only be cleaned with solvent-based cleaners (no water).
  • WS – Both water and solvent-based cleaners can be used.
  • X – Only vacuuming or brushing is allowed.

It’s important to follow the instructions on the tag, as using the wrong type of cleaner can damage the fabric.

2. Gather Your Supplies

Next, gather all the supplies you’ll need so that you don’t have to stop cleaning to look for something.

Here are some of the items you may need:

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Steam cleaner
  • Cleaning solution (water-based, solvent-based, or both, depending on the tag)
  • White cloth or sponge
  • Baking soda
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Brush


Before using any cleaning solutions, you’ll want to get rid of as much dirt and debris from the couch as possible.

This will make the rest of the cleaning process easier, and it will prevent dirt from becoming embedded deeper into the fabric.

1. Vacuum

Start by vacuuming the entire couch, using the brush attachment to loosen any caked-on dirt or dust.

Make sure to go over all areas, including the crevices and under the cushions.

2. Brush

If you don’t have access to a vacuum cleaner, you can use a brush to sweep away dirt and debris. Be gentle to avoid damaging the fabric.

Spot Cleaning Stains

Once you’ve vacuumed (or brushed) the couch, it’s time to tackle any stains.

This step is important, as removing stains before they set will help keep your couch looking like new.

1. Use the Right Solution

First and foremost, use the correct cleaning solution for your couch. Refer to the tag to determine if you should use a water-based or solvent-based cleaner.

If you don’t have a commercial cleaner on hand, you can make your own by mixing a mild detergent with water.

2. Blot, Don’t Rub

When cleaning a stain, it’s important to blot it, rather than rubbing it. Rubbing will only push the stain deeper into the fabric.

Use a white cloth or sponge to gently blot the stain until it’s gone.

3. Test in an Inconspicuous Area

If you’re using a new cleaning solution for the first time, it’s a good idea to test it in an inconspicuous area first (such as the underside of the couch).

This way, if it damages the fabric, you won’t ruin the entire couch.

Steam Cleaning

Steam cleaning is a great way to deep-clean your couch and remove stubborn stains. It’s important to use caution, however, as steam can damage certain fabrics.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Follow the Instructions

Always read the instruction manual for your steam cleaner before starting.

There may be specific instructions for your model, and you don’t want to make any mistakes.

2. Test in an Inconspicuous Area

Like with any cleaning solution, it’s a good idea to test the steam cleaner in an inconspicuous area first.

This will allow you to see if it damages the fabric before using it on the entire couch.

3. Use Light Heat

When using a steam cleaner on a leather or suede couch, use light heat to avoid damaging the material.

Also, don’t hold the steamer in one spot for too long, as this can also cause damage.

Alternative Cleaning Methods

If you don’t have a steam cleaner, there are other ways you can clean your couch. Here are three options:

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a great way to remove odors from your couch. Simply sprinkle a light layer over the entire couch and let it sit for 15-20 minutes.

Then, use a vacuum cleaner to suck up the baking soda.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol can be used to remove stains from your couch.

Spritz a small amount directly onto the stain, and use a white cloth or sponge to gently blot it away.

Dish Soap

If you have a water-safe couch, you can use dish soap to clean it. Mix a small amount of dish soap with warm water to create suds.

Use a white sponge to apply the suds to the couch in a circular motion, and then blot away the suds with a clean cloth.

After Cleaning

After cleaning your couch, there are a few final steps to take.

1. Let the Couch Dry

The couch should be allowed to dry completely before you sit on it again. Use a fan and/or open windows to speed up the drying process.

2. Vacuum Again

Once the couch is dry, vacuum it one more time to remove any dirt or debris that may have been left behind.

Maintaining Your Couch

To keep your couch looking its best, it’s important to take care of it on a regular basis. Here are a few tips:

  • Vacuum or brush your couch at least once a week to remove dirt and debris.
  • Treat any stains as soon as possible so they don’t have a chance to set.
  • Avoid eating or drinking on your couch, as this will help prevent spills.
  • Keep pets off the couch, or use a pet cover to protect the fabric.


Cleaning your couch doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By following the steps outlined above, you can keep your couch looking fresh and clean for years to come.

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