Beginner’s Guide to Sofa Cleaning

When it comes to your cleaning schedule, add your upholstered furniture to your list!

Dust-mites and allergens can enter the cushions of upholstered sofas and chairs. Plus, sometimes daily use makes living room furniture start to look dingy. Children spill sippy cups of milk, pets shed their fur, and crumbs from food get trapped under cushions.

Sofa Cleaning

If you don’t want your sofa looking like a complete mess, you need to learn how to properly clean it. Proper maintenance keeps it looking as fresh as the day you bought it, helps your sofa last as long as possible, and keeps your living room nice and cozy.

Check the recommendations

One of the first steps to proper sofa maintenance is checking the manufacturer’s recommendations. All sofas come with a fabric care code, which determines what products can be used on the upholstery. Checking this code can help you from accidentally staining your couch with cleaner.

There are four common fabric codes that manufacturers use. These codes can be found on the tag of the sofa. W means water-based cleaners should be used, S means solvent cleaners must be used, W/S means water-based or solvent cleaners can be used, and X means no cleaners should be used (but vacuuming is okay).

Come up with a cleaning schedule

As mentioned previously, incorporate your sofa into your normal cleaning routine. If you’re already vacuuming your living room once a week, get into the habit of vacuuming your sofa and chairs at the same time. This will help get rid of any dirt, fur, and allergens.

Unless you spill something on your couch, you should only have to deep clean your sofa every couple of years. Deep cleaning usually requires a steam cleaner or a professional cleaning service. This process gets rid of the most stubborn of allergens that are lurking within cushions and keeps your cushions smelling as fresh as possible.

Take care of spills immediately

Spills or body fluid should be cleaned up immediately. Don’t wait until your scheduled cleaning day to take care of them or you risk the possibility of staining your sofa. First, blot the liquid with a damp rag and upholstery cleaner. Don’t rub at the liquid—this can cause it to spread onto the surrounding fabric.

After blotting with the upholstery cleaner, take a dry rag and soak up as much of the liquid as possible. Again, do not rub. Press down on the rag and let it absorb as much of the liquid as possible. Allow the sofa to dry naturally.

Vacuum to get rid of allergens

Vacuuming the upholstery of your sofa is enough to get rid of any allergens and other debris that is on the surface of your cushions. This helps to quickly freshen up your cushions.

Vacuuming sofa cushions is easy. Most vacuums come with a special attachment that is designed for upholstery. Running this attachment over your couch will pick up any debris. Just like when you vacuum your carpet, you may need to vacuum the couch several times to pick up all dirt. If your vacuum doesn’t have this attachment, check the manufacturer’s website to see if you can buy one.

Deodorize to get rid of smells

Sometimes, it might be necessary to deodorize a sofa if you have lingering pet smells or if your kid has an accident. Nobody wants a smelly sofa! Deodorizing is simple. The best way to do it is to make sure your sofa is completely dry before sprinkling baking soda on it.

Baking soda has antibacterial properties that help to eliminate odors. After allowing the baking soda to sit for at least 15 minutes, vacuum baking soda up.  This should help to eliminate any smells. You can also use a fabric freshener spray if you don’t have time to use baking soda.

Consider steam cleaning

If the fabric code indicates you can use solvent cleaners on your couch, consider steam cleaning your sofa every couple of years. This deep cleaning will sanitize the surface, kill any bacteria, and get rid of any stains. Steam cleaning shouldn’t be done as often as vacuuming, but it is still an important part of sofa maintenance.

There are attachments for steam cleaners that allow them to be used on furniture. If you have the right attachment, you’ll need to precondition the fabric, add cleaner and water to the machine, carefully steam clean your sofa, and then let it dry naturally.

Use a professional if needed

If you don’t feel comfortable steam cleaning your sofa or your sofa indicates you shouldn’t use solvent cleaners, don’t hesitate to contact a professional to help with a deep sofa cleaning. A professional will come to your house and clean your sofa for you.

Professionals can help with tasks that go beyond vacuuming your sofa. They can help with stubborn stains, get rid of any smells, and provide steam cleaning to sanitize your sofa. Make sure to tell them the fabric code of your sofa before they arrive. This will ensure that they bring the right chemicals for the cleaning.

Reupholster as a last resort

If you’ve done everything you can think of to remove stubborn smells and stains from your upholstered sofa (including contacting a professional), but your couch still looks disgusting, consider reupholstering. Reupholstering is often a last resort for a sofa.

If the cushions and frame of your sofa are still good, but the fabric is not, reupholstering allows you to replace the fabric so that you can continue using your sofa. This is often more cost-efficient than buying a new sofa. However, if your cushions and sofa frame are also in poor condition, you may need to consider buying a brand new sofa.

Final thoughts

Properly maintaining your sofa is much more than cleaning up spills and occasionally vacuuming it to get rid of fur. To properly maintain your sofa, you’re going to want to vacuum it once a week and deep clean it every couple of years.

Proper cleaning of your sofa will allow it to look nice for as long as possible. Many of these tips can also be applied to other upholstered furniture.

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