The sofa is often the hub of a living room. It’s where everyone hangs out to watch TV, chat, read, have a snack, or take a nap. All that use makes the couch a spot that may require extra cleaning to keep it looking good. Luckily, it’s easy to maintain a sofa’s fresh appearance. Here’s what to know before you get started.
General Sofa Cleaning Methods
With proper maintenance and cleaning you can extend the life of your sofa and keep it relaxation-ready for your family and guests. There are a few tried and true techniques that are safe to use for cleaning most types of sofas:
Every time you vacuum your floor, you may want to consider getting out the crevice tool and cleaning the seams and surfaces of your couch cushions. It’s also a good idea to remove the cushions and run the crevice tool in the creases and cracks of the sofa frame to remove food and dirt particles that collect under the cushions. This is an easy step to do, and it keeps heavy dirt from building up in your furniture.
Steam cleaning isn’t suitable for all types of upholstery fabric. It’s only an option when you have furniture marked with a W code. Check the care tag on the back or underside of the couch to find this information.
Pet fur, carpet fibers, and other types of fabric fibers can settle on the surface of your fabric sofa. A lint roller is handy to clean up those types of fibers. Rub the roller over the sofa surface in sections. If the sofa fabric has a lot of texture, like velvet or velour, rub the lint brush against the grain. This makes it easier for the lint brush to pick up any hair or fabric fibers that are stuck in the pile of the upholstery fabric.
If the fabric is microfiber and covers are removable, you can wash cushion covers in cold water on your washer’s gentle setting. Check the care tag for a W code to determine if laundering is a safe option for your sofa cushions.
If food spilled on the sofa and dried before you noticed it, use a whisk broom or the bristles of a scrub brush to break up the dried-on food. Avoid vigorously scrubbing, though, so you don’t cause a stain. If the spot is large, scrub it from the outer edge working toward the center.
Fabric-Specific Cleaning Techniques
Each type of upholstery fabric has its own cleaning technique to achieve the best results and avoid damaging the fabric. Follow these methods designed for your sofa’s unique fabric needs:
How to Spot-Clean Specific Types of Stains
Accidents happen. So from time to time there will be stains you’ll need to clean off your couch. Follow these tips for spot-cleaning different stains from your sofa:
If the pet stain is urine, use a cloth or some paper towels to blot up the excess moisture. Mix a few drops of dish detergent, white vinegar, and water. Then use a sponge or clean cloth to gently rub the solution on the soiled area. Blot dry. Repeat if necessary to get rid of the stain. For tougher pet stains, like blood or feces, you may have to add a few drops of hydrogen peroxide after cleaning with the solution. Be sure to remove the peroxide completely with cold water, since it can strip the color from most fabrics if you leave it on too long.
Use some paper towels or a cloth to blot up the wine. Put cold water and dish detergent on a sponge or cloth. Gently work the detergent into the stain. Blot and repeat until the stain is gone.
Use paper towels to blot up the ink if it’s wet. Then use cold water on a cloth to dab up the ink. If that doesn’t work, you can put hair spray, rubbing alcohol, or white vinegar on a cloth and rub the ink with that. Don’t rub too vigorously, though, because it may smear the ink and make the stain bigger.
Blot up the excess coffee. Spot clean it with a mix of warm water and white vinegar. Blot up the excess moisture and repeat until the coffee stain is gone.
How to Read Upholstery Cleaning Codes
When you start thinking about cleaning up spills on upholstery fabrics, such as wine or pet messes, that means you need cleaning products. However, cleaning products can damage your upholstery if you choose the wrong type of cleaning product. The solution is to check the care tag on the underside of your couch. There are four main cleaning codes to know:
|Code W||You can safely apply water-based cleaner to the upholstery on your couch. To avoid over-saturating the fabric, try applying water with a spray bottle. Most foam upholstery cleaners and water-based cleaning solutions are okay to use.|
|Code S||Solvent-based cleaners must be used on the fabric to avoid damage. That means to clean a spot off a sofa that is marked with Code S, you need a well-ventilated spot and dry cleaning solvent or rubbing alcohol to clean it. Do not use water.|
|Code W/S||You can use a mix of water and solvent-based cleaners to remove soiled spots from your couch upholstery. It’s especially important to do a spot test in a hidden area before putting any type of cleaning product on this type of fabric to make sure the color doesn’t run.|
|Code X||You shouldn’t put any type of cleaner on your sofa upholstery. Your only options if your sofa is marked with an X are to vacuum it or use a soft-bristled brush to gently brush particles off the surface.|
Icons courtesy of The Noun Project.
More Sofa Cleaning Tips
Consider yourself a cleaning pro yet? Check out a few more quick tips that can help you keep your sofa fresh:
Prep for Cleaning
Use a broom or duster to gently tap the surface of the upholstery between vacuuming sessions. This loosens dirt and dust that may be trapped in the fabric and under the cushions. It’s also helpful to do this right before vacuuming.
Removing Pet Hair
With pet hair comes pet dander and odors. Clean regularly to avoid excess buildup of pet hair on your furniture. There are specific pet hair vacuums that help pick up pet hair from upholstery. You may also want to consider using a washable sofa cover if your dog is an excessive shedder.
Spot Test Cleaners
Some fabrics can stain or become discolored when you try to clean them, even if the care tag says it’s safe to clean them with a certain product. To counteract this, spot test with the cleaning solution you plan to use on your sofa. Do this on an inconspicuous part of your couch.
Cover the Upholstery
Put arm covers or doilies over the arms of your sofa to absorb body oils so they don’t soak into the fabric. If your sofa gets heavy use you may want to invest in a slipcover or furniture cover to protect the entire piece of furniture. Spreading a decorative throw blanket over the backrest also helps prevent dirt and crumbs from settling into your upholstery.
Keeping your sofa clean makes the entire living room look bright and friendly. With a little effort and a few supplies, it’s easy to do by following the manufacturer’s directions and our helpful tips to keep the fabric stain-free.
Read on for More About Sofas…
- Learn about fabric choices and construction with Understanding Upholstery from Fabric to Frame
- Take a look at popular upholstery features in Elements of Style: 4 Types of Tufting
- Find the perfect style for your living room with A Guide to Sofa Designs
- Mix things up a bit! Read 5 Ways to Take a Neutral Sofa from Blah to Beautiful