How to Clean a Couch

We all lead such busy lives these days that sometimes, there is nothing better than to collapse onto the couch at the end of the day and indulge in some treats and an evening in front of the television. While some lazy time on the couch recharges us, it unavoidably puts some strain on the furniture. Oil from our skin, hair, dirt, perhaps a spilled drink, and crumbs will find their way onto your couch, no matter how careful you are. If you share your home with children and pets, there is additional wear and tear that can quickly make your furniture look tired and worn.

Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to ensure your couch looks its best even after an evening of binge-watching your favorite TV show.

1. Check the fabric of your couch.

Obviously, different fabrics have different needs. A leather surface needs to be treated differently than a cotton one. Begin by checking for the tag that is attached to the couch. There, you will find the code that tells you how best to treat the fabric.

  • X: This couch can only be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner or cloth. You may not use any water or solutions to treat the surface.
  • S: If you find this letter on the tag, you can use a solution-based chemical to clean your couch. Any dry-cleaner detergent will do the trick.
  • W: A couch made of fabric denoted by a W is very user-friendly. You can use water or a water-based cleaner to treat your couch.
  • WS: If the tag shows the letters WS, then you can use either a dry-cleaning agent or some water with a mild detergent to clean your couch. If you have a steam cleaner, it is fit to help you spruce up the furniture.

If your couch doesn’t have a tag or you can’t see what code is on it, try a mild cleaner on a hidden part of your couch. If there is no negative reaction, it is safe to use it on the entire couch.

2. Vacuum the entire couch.

Entire Couch

No matter which fabric your couch is made out of, a vacuum cleaner is the best way to begin cleaning it. If you have an upright vacuum, it likely has an upholstery tool, which will be best to use. Use long, straight strokes to vacuum the surface. When you have vacuumed the entire couch, start again and do it a second time, but vacuum into a different direction. This will ensure you catch the most hair, fur, and dust possible. Also make sure you get into all the little nooks and crannies and corners to catch the crumbs that might have fallen in between the cushions. If the cushions are not attached, or if you have extra pillows on the couch, make sure you take them off and vacuum them separately.

If you have a handheld vacuum, it will be easy for you to maneuver it around your piece of furniture. Whether there is dedicated upholstery tool or not, use the same motions you would use with an upright vacuum. The advantage of a handheld vacuum is that it is lighter and more user-friendly when it comes to cleaning your couch, as it is less cumbersome to move it around. Vacuum between the cushions and in the corners will be quick and easy. If you consider getting a handheld vacuum, you can check out our top picks here:

If you have a pet and there’s a lot of fur on your couch, use a lint or tape roller to wipe down the couch and remove any hair that the vacuum cleaner might not be able to suck up. Keep a few rollers stocked, so that you can quickly wipe down your couch whenever it’s needed.

If your couch cushions have removable covers, take them off and give them a good shake to get rid off the dust that’s caught between the fibers. Perhaps you can even hand-wash and line-dry them for a truly thorough cleaning. But only do this if the fabric allows!

3. Remove any stains that need extra attention.

Extra Attention

If you accidentally spill some food or a drink onto your couch, remove it as quickly as possible to keep the damage to a minimum. Pick up any crumbs right away, so that they don’t get pressed into the fabric. Use a clean, soft cloth to wipe up any liquid. Try to get as much of the spill as quickly as possible. This will keep the resulting stain to a minimum. Once you have dabbed the stain with the cloth, use a stain remover to get rid off what is left. You can use a commercial product or use warm water mixed with dish soap or vinegar. Again, which stain remover you use will depend on the fabric of your couch. Only use what you know is safe for your fabric.

If the cushions of your couch have removable covers, take them off before you treat any stains. This way, the cushion itself won’t get damp and you won’t have to worry about mildew forming if the cushion doesn’t dry properly after the stain treatment.

If it is compatible with the fabric of your couch, use a steam cleaner to deep-clean the furniture. The steam will penetrate the fibers and kill the dust mites that like to live there. Even if there are no obvious stains on your couch, it is a good idea to steam-clean it regularly, as it will keep down any unpleasant odors that might form. Bacteria and unwanted smells can also be removed with a sanitizing spray. Again, test any new cleaner on a small, hidden patch of fabric to ensure that it won’t hurt the couch. If it is safe to use, spray it onto the couch, let it sit for a few minutes to soak in, and then wipe if off, if necessary.

If your couch needs extra help to regain its former glory, consider using a portable extraction cleaner, if it is compatible with your couch fabric. These cleaners work much like steam cleaners for carpets. You fill the little machine with water and a cleaning solution, dispense it onto the couch, and gently rub it into the fibers. This will loosen up the dirt that’s caught deep within. Once this is done, you can vacuum up the dirt into the cleaner and later pour away the dirty solution.

4. Wipe the wooden or metal parts.

Finally, don’t forget about the parts of your couch that are not made out of fabric. Use a soft cloth to wipe down the sofa feet and any other components that are made out of wood or metal. Use warm water mixed with dish detergent to clean them. Don’t forget to dry them off when you are done. If there are wooden parts on your couch, you can use a wood polish to add a layer of protection and some extra shine.

These tips will help you keep your furniture looking like new and you can enjoy it for a long time.

About Kate Steven

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