How Often Should You Clean Your Couch?

The Best Ways to Clean a Couch

Removing stubborn stains and musty smells from your couch can be a complicated process. Whether you need to clean up a large spill on your cushions or just want to give your sofa a little TLC, you’ll need the right techniques and cleaning products to get the job done. The methods you use will differ depending on the type of upholstery you’re working with, too.

Overview

In this article we’ll discuss:

Cleaning your sofa takes some hard work and know-how, but the benefits to your health and the longevity of your furniture are worth it.
Cleaning your sofa takes some hard work and know-how, but the benefits to your health and the longevity of your furniture are worth it.

The Health Benefits of Cleaning Your Upholstery

Along with preserving the beautiful look and feel of your couch, sofa cleaning comes with a few health benefits for you and your family. Some of these benefits include:

  • Reduced Bacteria: Even if your sofa, small loveseat or sectional looks fine, the fabric could be full of germs. Some bacteria can be harmful to those with allergies or skin sensitivities. Occasional steam cleanings help reduce the number of germs on your couch.
  • Improved Air Quality: Dirt and dust mites in your couch cushions often make the air in your living room stale and stuffy. Regularly vacuuming your sofa as part of your cleaning and decluttering routine can make the air cleaner and fresher for people with allergies and respiratory issues.
  • Fewer Allergens: Whether you’re allergic to dust, pet dander or pollen, sitting on a dirty couch can trigger troublesome symptoms like a runny nose, sneezing, coughing and itchy eyes. A thorough cleaning helps minimize these allergens, allowing people to relax and breathe easier.
  • Elevated Mood: It’s hard to feel cheerful and relaxed while sitting on a dirty, smelly sofa. Removing food stains, sweat spots and unpleasant odors from the fabric makes your couch a clean, comfy place to hang out, de-stress and enjoy a fun hobby or two. Bright citrus and soothing floral deodorizers also enhance the calm and refreshing vibe of your space.
Thoroughly cleaning your sofa and other living room furniture creates a fresh, clean feeling throughout the entire space.
Thoroughly cleaning your sofa and other living room furniture creates a fresh, clean feeling throughout the entire space.

How Often Should You Clean Your Couch?

Most people should probably clean their sofas more than they do. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to give your sofa an all-over cleaning a few times a year. However, the type of fabric sofa you have, the people and pets in your household and the different ways you use your couch can help you determine how often you should clean your sofa.

If you have small children or pets, odds are you’ll need to vacuum your couch on a semi-weekly basis to cut down on crumbs, debris and fur. People who snack while watching movies and playing video games should vacuum between the cushions of their apartment sofa at least once a month in addition to the occasional spot-cleaning to remove food or drink stains.

Pets, children and overall use determine how frequently you should clean your sofa.
Pets, children and overall use determine how frequently you should clean your sofa.

How to Clean Upholstery by Type

What is the best way to clean a couch? The answer depends on the type of sofa you have. Each type of material requires a different approach to cleaning and maintenance. Follow the recommended instructions on your couch’s care tag and consider the following tips and couch cleaners to keep your upholstered sofa looking good as new.

How to Clean a Leather Couch

Experts recommend cleaning your leather sofa once or twice a year. Special leather soaps are essential for maintaining the supple feel and lustrous look of your couch. Use warm, soapy water and a damp washcloth to wipe mild surface stains away. For darker nail polish or ink pen stains, clean up the mess with a small cotton ball dipped in alcohol.

After you remove a stain or spill, it’s important to dry your leather sectional or couch thoroughly. Take a clean, dry towel and dab up the liquid to prevent mildew growth. Some professionals recommend letting the damp spot air-dry overnight. Once the sofa surface is dry, apply leather cream to re-moisturize the material and give it a glossy sheen.

How to Clean a Suede Couch

When it comes to cleaning a suede sofa, you should treat spills promptly and vacuum the upholstery at least once a month. The exact method you use for cleaning a suede couch depends on what kind of suede you have. Natural suede with brushed animal hide requires different cleaning products and techniques than microfiber suede:

  • Natural Suede: To clean your natural suede sofa, vacuum the surface to remove any dust or loose dirt that could potentially harm the fabric. Blot drink spills with a dry towel and let them air dry. Or, use cornstarch to absorb larger spills and oil marks. If you need to remove sticky residue from the upholstery, try a commercial glue remover.
  • Microfiber Suede: Deep vacuuming with an upholstery attachment works for a microfiber suede couch as well. However, some of these sofas require water-based cleaners, while others need solvent-based solutions. Follow the care tag instructions on your particular couch to clean up stains and spills.
Dust leather sofas once a month with a microfiber cloth to pick up any debris, especially if your couch has light-colored upholstery.

How to Clean a Fabric Couch

Whether you have a cotton, linen or polyester sofa, you should try to clean your upholstered living room sets every three to four months. Start by vacuuming the cushions and crevices to remove crumbs, lint and dust. Then, gently wash the fabric using a brush with warm soapy water or your favorite green cleaning product if your care tag allows it.

Be sure to vacuum any cracks, crevices or tufting well to remove dust and crumbs while you're cleaning your sofa.

How to Clean a Microfiber Couch

Much like fabric sofas, you should clean this high-performance material a few times a year. For the best results, use a mixture of warm water and dish soap on your microfiber sofa stains, then gently rub the spot in a circular motion until it’s gone. Once you’ve washed the area with soap and water, let the fabric air dry completely before sitting down.

Cleaning your microfiber sofa a few times a year keeps the couch in good condition and reduces allergens that could affect your family's health.
Cleaning your microfiber sofa a few times a year keeps the couch in good condition and reduces allergens that could affect your family's health.

How to Clean a Velvet Couch

If you love decorating with velvet furniture, you have the option of vacuuming the material or using a soft brush to gently loosen dirt on the sofa’s surface. Tackle spills immediately with a dry, absorbent towel or use a soft cloth, soap and water to blot out dried stains. When your velvet sofa is clean and dry, brush the fabric to restore its smooth look.

How to Clean a Denim Couch

All it takes to clean your denim sofa is a quick trip to your kitchen pantry. Baking soda makes a great couch stain remover and deodorizer. Create a paste by sprinkling a layer of baking soda over your upholstery and rubbing a wet cloth over it. Let the paste dry for a few hours, then vacuum up the residue. Use this technique a few times a year to keep your denim sofa looking clean and smelling fresh.

Use baking soda and water to clean and refresh your stylish denim sofa.
Use baking soda and water to clean and refresh your stylish denim sofa.

How to Clean a Chenille Couch

Delicate chenille living room furniture requires gentler methods than other upholsteries. Vacuum your sofa regularly to keep dust and hair to a minimum. When spot cleaning, use a low-moisture cleanser and a soft-bristle brush to remove stains. Be sure to scrub in the same direction as the fabric fibers and consider hiring a professional service for deep cleaning every few years.

Soft chenille upholstery requires delicate cleaning with low-moisture cleansers.
Soft chenille upholstery requires delicate cleaning with low-moisture cleansers.

Additional Sofa Cleaning Tips and Tricks

Even with these helpful couch-cleaning instructions, pesky stains and lingering odors may persist. If you need to tackle a stubborn spot or are sharing space with pets that occasionally track mud on your sofa, try a few of these additional tricks for removing difficult dirt and debris from your couch.

Little stains and messes become tougher to remove over time, so tackling them as quickly as possible makes cleaning easier and more manageable.
Little stains and messes become tougher to remove over time, so tackling them as quickly as possible makes cleaning easier and more manageable.

Steam Cleaning

Want to give your sofa a deep, below-the-surface cleaning? Check the care tag to see if it’s okay to use a steam cleaner for your couch. In addition to removing tough stains, steam cleaning helps kill bacteria that live within the fibers of your sofa. Perfect for preventing mold, mildew and dust mites, this method leaves your couch looking and feeling fresh.

Use a steam cleaner or hire a professional to tackle tough stains and lingering odors.
Use a steam cleaner or hire a professional to tackle tough stains and lingering odors.

Cleaning Pet Accidents

People who live with pets or parents currently potty training toddlers know that accidents happen. Wondering how to get the pee smell out of your couch? You can make a homemade couch cleaner with just three household items. To clean up urine stains, mix ten ounces of three-percent hydrogen peroxide, three tablespoons of baking soda and two to three drops of dish-washing liquid.

Once the baking soda dissolves, test the solution in an inconspicuous place to see how it affects the fabric. Lightly blot the urine stain to remove excess moisture. Then, spray it with your homemade cleaner and let the mixture sit for at least an hour. When the area is clean, rinse the spot by dabbing it with a damp cloth and pat it dry with a clean towel.

Always test new cleansers on a small, hidden area to ensure they won't damage or stain your upholstery.
Always test new cleansers on a small, hidden area to ensure they won't damage or stain your upholstery.

Removing Dog Odors

Need to know how to get the dog smell out of your couch? Start by machine washing your throw pillows and slipcovers. Next, vacuum the cushions, arms, back and sides of the couch. Sprinkle baking soda on your sofa to absorb the odor and let it sit for a few hours or overnight before re-vacuuming. If the dog smell persists, consider renting an upholstery cleaner to get rid of the aroma.

How to Clean Couch Cushions

Airing your couch cushions out on the porch or sprinkling them with baking soda are common methods for removing unpleasant smells. You can also throw removable covers in the washing machine and hand-wash the cushions with warm, soapy water. Rinse the cushions out and wrap them in clean, dry towels. Make sure they are completely dry before putting them back on your sofa.

Baking soda absorbs odors and leaves your sofa smelling fresh and clean. Be sure to vacuum thoroughly to remove any excess after cleaning.
Baking soda absorbs odors and leaves your sofa smelling fresh and clean. Be sure to vacuum thoroughly to remove any excess after cleaning.