What is the Best Way to Clean a Couch?

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  • Written By: J. Beam
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2019
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A couch takes a lot of abuse, especially in homes where children and pets reside. You can easily clean a couch to help keep on top of normal wear and tear, but remember to use caution when applying specific upholstery cleaning products. To routinely clean a couch and keep it looking good, vacuum the surfaces of the seat cushions, arms, and back regularly with an upholstery attachment. If you don’t have a vacuum cleaner with attachments, use a handheld vacuum and an upholstery brush. Wipe away remaining dust and dirt with a slightly damp cloth.

Depending on the type of upholstery, you should maybe clean a couch with a damp cloth when attacking stains. Always wipe up spills as quickly as possible by first blotting with a clean, dry cloth. If necessary, spot treat the area with mild soap and a damp cloth before using upholstery stain remover. If the spot remains, you can use upholstery cleaner, but test your fabric in an inconspicuous area first as some fabrics may bleed or bleach out.

If you have leather or vinyl upholstery, you can purchase cleaning kits that are specifically designed for use on these materials. Routine conditioning of leather is supposed to keep the material soft and supple, thus avoiding cracks from dryness, as well as keep it cleaner. Avoid using spot treatments not made for leather and always test their use somewhere hidden. Most leather couches can be wiped clean with only a damp cloth.


When pets are involved, it can be difficult to clean a couch and keep it clean. Pet hair tends to embed itself within the fibers of some upholstery and cannot be vacuumed out. There are several products available that make pet hair removal easier, specifically pet hair sponges that will wipe hairs out and away from upholstery fibers. Check your local pet store or the cleaning isles of most major retailers. A thick car shammy also works well for wiping away pet hair from some fabrics.

In case of major spills or accidents, many commercial products may fail to clean a couch completely. Professional upholstery cleaners may provide the best option, but be sure to consult one with a good reputation who guarantees some sort of result as it can be an expensive service.

Just like any other upholstered surface, there may be specific manufacturer directions that apply to cleaning a couch so be sure to check for labels before applying any fabric cleaner to your couch. If you have a newer couch with fabric care warranties, be sure to check your warranty for actions that may void the warranty before you clean it.


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Post 4

Hairspray and a soft cloth is brilliant for removing crayon, felt tip pen and ink marks from leather and in some cases, even permanent marker. So hairspray should do the trick and get rid of any streaks left behind.

Post 3

What are the best tips for how to clean a couch cushion? My wife went out of town for a week and I spilled something on the couch, but I want to clean it up before she gets back.

Can I just put the cushion in the washing machine?

Post 2

Does anyone know how to steam clean a microfiber couch at home? Is this even possible? Do I need to rent or buy a kit?

First time homeowner; I'd appreciate all the help I can get!

Post 1

One of my greatest "mom" moments was when my daughter was about two and colored our leather couch almost completely tie dye with her crayons. As you can imagine, the tie dye leather look wasn't what I was looking for in a room, so I immediately called my mom screaming "How do you clean a leather couch?!".

She had never had one, so we both started scouring through a bunch of articles on how to clean a leather couch, and luckily found some good tips that worked pretty well -- though you can still see a few streaks on the cushions if you look closely.

I still get the shudders though, whenever I see a box of crayons sitting next to the couch. I guess that's one of those "joys of motherhood" you never hear about -- panicked sofa cleaning!

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