Deep cleaning your couch is one of those tasks always seem to be left behind until it’s too late. Your couch collects dust, dirt, and color can fade away slowly over time.
If you realize that your couch is in need of some serious cleaning, keep reading and give it a try!
Before Cleaning, Get to Know Your Couch
Knowing the material the couch is made of is key. Every type of surface reacts differently to its environment, such as temperature and humidity. For example, Dallas can get very humid depending on your area. This can affect your couch, especially if it’s made from organic materials such as wool and leather.
Also, keep in mind that not every material gets along with your cleaning products. Some products can get stains and water spots or decolor slightly. Make sure after buying a piece of furniture to write down every material it’s made of so you can treat your couch with care.
If your sofa is second-hand or if it’s been some time since you’ve bought it, there’s a possibility that you don’t know the specific type of fabric. If this is the case, check under your sofa, where cleaning codes can be found. These cleaning codes let you know which cleaning products will be safe to use, and which ones to avoid.
There are hundreds of possibilities for fabrics: materials, colors, textures, additional treatments, etc. Let’s go over the most common types of fabric and read the do’s and don’ts about each one to make them look brand new.
Cotton is one of the most popular and cheaper fabrics, at least in the natural fiber category. It is very resistant to wear, moisture, and fading.
If it’s 100% cotton, it’s hypoallergenic. However, if it’s combined with other fibers, it can increase resistance and durability.
Cleaning Your Cotton Couch
Start by smacking your cushions to remove dust and debris. Do it outside if possible!
A vacuum cleaner will be your number one ally here. Start by vacuuming using the upholstery attachment. Don’t forget the cushions as well. Vacuuming will help you detect stains that you will need to remove later.
By now, your couch will probably look cleaner, but it may have some stains you need to take care of. Just add a 1:1 part mix of baking soda and water and apply with a brush or toothbrush, rubbing in a circular motion.
If your want to deodorize your couch, you can coat it entirely with a fine coat of baking soda (with no water).
Let sit for 15 minutes and then wipe with a microfiber cloth or with your vacuum cleaner.
Dry with a soft towel, and let it air dry overnight.
Linen is affordable, airy and “breathable” so you won’t have trouble with it during summer. On the other hand, it’s not meant for everyday use because it wrinkles and stains easily.
If you have kids or pets you shouldn’t consider linen as an option.
Cleaning Your Linen Couch
For removing a few stains from your linen couch, add two or three drops of neutral soap to lukewarm water. Dab gently using a wet cloth. Make sure you remove soap with warm water and then a dry cloth at the end. Don’t rub or scrub too hard because it can worsen your stain.
Most linen covers can be machine washed or dry cleaned. Make sure to check the instructions before attempting any of this.
Leather is a great material because it has a lot of personality on its own.
This is a very durable and low-maintenance option but, just like every other organic material, leather can be very sensitive. It requires certain temperature and humidity levels to stay “healthy”. If the moisture level is too high, it becomes greasy and unpleasant to touch, as well as more prone to bacteria and fungi.
If it’s too low, it can start to show cracks and wrinkles which, besides not looking good, it also indicates that the leather is losing resistance and can lead to permanent cracks.
It can also be damaged because of sharp objects, such as metal edges or a pet’s claws.
Cleaning Your Leather Couch
Vacuuming with a soft brush attachment is enough for regular maintenance. Saddle soap is essential to take care of leather the same way you need moisturizer for your skin. Make sure you don’t overdo it, though. Once every 6 months is a good rule of thumb.
Make sure you know the type of leather you’re working with, whether it’s protected or unprotected. Most leather furniture is made with protected or finished leather. Unprotected or aniline leather is softer and more premium, but also more sensitive to stains.
Treat your stains as soon as possible because the more you let them without treatment, the harder it will be to remove them later. Although DIY solutions are almost always a great idea, organic materials such as leather and wood don’t always get along with them. In this case, it’s best to buy specialized cleaning agents.
Make sure to avoid chlorine or cleaning products that contain it because it might leave stains. Don’t use rubbing alcohol when cleaning leather, either. Rubbing alcohol will cause leather to crack and lose its natural healthy moisture.
On the other hand, wet cleaning should be avoided too. Natural fiber fabrics retain too much water, and it will be difficult to dry once it’s been absorbed.
Nylon is one of the strongest upholstery fabrics on the market. It’s a synthetic fabric resistant to stains, tears, stretching, shrinking, wrinkling, you name it. However, it does attract a lot of pet hair.
Cleaning Your Nylon Couch
In this case, if you have pets, you’ll want to get yourself a pet vacuum cleaner. There are vacuum cleaners that are designed specifically for cleaning pet hair, dander, and other residues.
Rubbing alcohol can work for removing stains. Just apply rubbing alcohol using a spray bottle, then scrub with a microfiber towel until it’s gone.
Olefin or Polypropylene
It’s a durable and cleanable material. It is also stain-resistant. It can fade when exposed to sunlight, though olefin usually goes under a UV treatment to prevent that.
Because of that, it can be quite common to find olefin furniture for outdoors. It is also washable, but you shouldn’t use hot water because it’s heat sensitive.
Cleaning Your Olefin Couch
Olefin fabric is easy to clean, for the most part. It does have a hard time getting rid of oil or grease-based stains. For regular cleaning, you can mix one tablespoon of liquid laundry detergent and four cups of water.
Use a clean sponge and soak it on your cleaning mix, then squeeze until it’s only slightly damp. Remember, you don’t want any excess liquid to be absorbed by your couch, no matter the material.
Wool is a natural fiber that comes from sheep (mostly). It’s popular as a material for carpet floors and it’s also a common choice for sofas. Just like most materials from organic/natural sources, it’s known for its durability.
In fact, wool is used as a material for protecting mattresses because it’s resistant to fire, mildew and bugs. However, it also comes with a downside: it needs to be dry cleaned in order not to shrink or lose color.
Cleaning Your Wool Couch
Same as leather, vacuuming regularly is the best technique for keeping your couch clean and healthy. Remember to use an upholstery attachment to protect your surface.
If you want to clean any spills or stains, you should damp a piece of cloth in either water or solvent -depending on what the care tag allows you to- and gently blot on the surface.
You don’t want to scrub because that will just spread the problem everywhere. Remember to dry with a clean cloth and let it air dry afterward.
Couch Cleaning Basics
Make sure to check that your couch has a care tag that identifies the methods and products that are safe to use for cleaning it. A “W” means that you can clean it using water. An “S” means you can only use a solvent-based cleaner. “SW” means you can use either. “X” means that you should only use a vacuum for your couch.
Avoid products such as ammonia, baby wipes, or dishwasher. They can contain chemicals that are potentially harmful to your couch, causing anything from yellowing to total color fading.
White vinegar is an amazing stain remover, and it works for most types of upholstery. Always try your cleaning solution in a small, non-visible area in the back of your couch. If you know the specific material your couch is made of, do some research and see how it behaves with any chemical you’re thinking of using on your couch.
An easy, all-purpose cleaning agent can be created by mixing four cups of water, two tablespoons of white vinegar and 2 teaspoons of neutral dish soap. Remember, check your specific fabric first to see what chemicals are safe for use, and always test on an inconspicuous spot.
Read more: How to Clean Using Vinegar
Don’t Forget Cleaning Your Couch Frame
Since we’re talking about deep cleaning here, you can’t forget about your couch frame. They are usually made of two distinctive materials: wood or metal.
For metal frames, you can use a nylon brush. They’re very easy to clean because you will only need warm, soapy water. You can create that by mixing two cups of water and half a teaspoon of neutral dish soap. Scrub your surface and then remove it using cold water. Finish by drying everything with a clean, dry microfiber cloth. You might need to wipe the surface several times until everything is free of liquids and soap.
This is a DIY cleaning mix, although the ideal product to buy is a Metal Cleaner. Remember to make sure that nothing remains damp because this can create rusting in the future.
For wood frames, they’re not only going to need a good cleaning, but they also need to be moisturized every once in a while if you want them to look nice and shiny. Vacuuming is a good option for wood because it doesn’t involve water, and it can be done at the same time as the rest of your couch.
Depending on the type of wood, you might want to apply oil, conditioner, or furniture polish every couple of months. Natural furniture polish can be created using half a cup of olive oil, half a cup of cooking vinegar and the juice of a lemon.
These three ingredients combine stain-removing, sanitizing and disinfecting properties, (besides a great fragrance afterward!). Mix everything and apply with a clean cloth, wiping away any excess with a different, dry microfiber cloth.
Couch Cleaning Bonus Tips
A darker couch will need higher maintenance. However, stains will be more visible on a light couch.
If you have several kids and/or pets, maybe a couch cover could work for you. They’re usually made of microfiber or polyester/spandex, are machine washable, can adapt to different sofa sizes, and will protect most of the surface of your couch (if not the entire surface) against stains or spills.
That being said, depending on the type of cover they might not be strong enough for protection against sharp objects.
Time to deep clean your couch! Make sure to test first whatever technique or product you use before going in. Your couch could be made out of hundreds of possible fabrics, so make sure that you know the type of material before attempting to clean anything.
Remember you can always hire a cleaning service if you want a professional, deep clean on your couch and your entire home!
Hopefully these tips will convince you to give your couch and armchairs a nice deep clean!