How to Clean a Couch, Including the Upholstery

How to Clean a Couch, Including the Upholstery

After all the Hallmark movie marathons and the Netflix frenzy, your couch quickly becomes the place to be for crumbs, popcorn kernels, and the occasional spill of wine. While vacuuming or wiping your couch can remove dirt, pet hair and crumbs, take out your steamers and cleaners if you really want to get rid of stains and spills. Every six months or so, follow this step-by-step guide on how to clean a sofa from the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab to once again make your living room focal point worthy of note.

How to Clean a Couch, Including the Upholstery
How to Clean a Couch, Including the Upholstery

How to clean a sofa

Whether you’re trying to tackle a specific spot or want to give your entire couch a seasonal refresh, try this easy tutorial:

    1. Use a portable steamer or shards from your steam iron to kill the mites. Run the entire sofa, just letting the steam touch and penetrate the fabric. If you have no steam or iron, skip this step and go straight to the vacuum cleaner.
    2. With the upholstery accessory of your vacuum cleaner, browse the entire sofa: backrest, armrests, skirt and cushions. If the cushions are removable, remove them and vacuum the fabric below, going as far under the back and arms as your vacuum can reach. With the crevice tool, pass along the seams, around the buttons and along the trim.
    3. Take a look at the care label for your sofa to see what is safe to use on the fabric:
      • W is the easiest to clean and means that water-based cleaners are acceptable.
      • W / S means that water-based or solvent-based cleaners are safe.
      • S means that only solvent-based cleaning chemicals should be used.
      • X means nothing more than vacuuming or brushing the fabric.


    4. For fabrics that can be safely cleaned with water, treat food and animal stains with a formula containing enzymes like Bissell Professional Stain Remover for animal stains and odors. In a pinch, mix mild dish soap with lukewarm water. Always test any cleaner in a hidden area first.
    5. If your cushions have removable covers, unzip them and place a paper towel between the fabric and the padding to absorb the cleaner. Apply the cleaner to a cloth and carefully blot the stain, working from the outside to the inside. Once the stain has been removed, wipe the area with another damp cloth to rinse well and dry. For “S” fabrics, remove stains with a solvent-based product according to the directions on the package.
    6. Clean dull arms and headrests with a portable extraction cleaner like Bissell’s Little Green ProHeat portable cleaner. Simply dispense the cleaner and water mixture through the hose, swirl the fabric with the brush nozzle and suck the dirt out of the tank. For fabrics containing only solvents, it is best to call in a professional for safe and thorough cleaning.
    7. Once your couch is clean and dry, remove any germs and lingering odors on the water-resistant upholstery with a fabric disinfectant spray like Tide Antibacterial Fabric Spray.

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