How To Clean A Sofa – The Number 1 Ultimate Guide

How To Clean A Sofa – The Number 1 Ultimate Guide

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The sofa is one of the most significant pieces of furniture that you own in your home. Many people invest a lot of money into them, and they are often one of the most used parts of furniture in your home. Therefore, we will look at how to clean a sofa, as well as maintain it.

In this article, we will look at the different kinds of sofas and the best way to keep them cleaned and maintained. We will look at:

  • How regularly you should clean your sofa.
  • How to spot clean.
  • General cleaning.
  • Deep cleaning.

So let’s look at how to clean a sofa.

How To Clean A Leather Sofa

So, you have brought a leather sofa, and you want to keep it looking as new as the day you brought it. There are specific ways to care for the leather and keep it looking new. There are many different ways and processes used to clean the leather.

How to clean a leather sofa

Leather is one of the most accessible materials in sofas to look after and keep maintained, of course, except in emergencies or with difficult stains. If you do have the manufactures care guide, then please do always follow its best practices on these instructions.

You can buy commercial products to keep the leather clean and to prolong its life, and we will look into some of these products. There are also homemade products that you can use. We will look into these, as well as how to make them, store and use them. With the right products and tools, you can keep your leather sofa in excellent condition for many years to come. So, let’s look into how to clean a leather sofa.

How Often to Clean a Leather Sofa

You need to complete a  general clean on a leather sofa around once a week. To do that, use a clean white cloth and wipe the sofa down from top to bottom. That will ensure to keep your sofa free from dust. We suggest using a  white cloth to avoid any color transferring onto your leather. It will also make it easier to judge whether you need to do a deeper clean by the amount of dirt removed from your sofa.

We also suggest you use a soft, microfibre cloth for a weekly wipe down. That will ensure that the leather does not become scratched during the cleaning process.

You should vacuum your leather sofa as regularly as you would your upholstery. However, as a bonus with leather, you can use a damp cloth to remove a build-up of dirt. Ensure that the fabric is only moist and not saturated because if it is too wet, it can damage the leather.

If you spill anything that can stain or damage the leather, then this will need to be cleaned immediately. However,  other than that, to answer the question, how often to clean a leather sofa, a general good clean once a week will be enough.

Cleaning Away Debris

The first thing that you will want to do is to remove any large debris away from the sofa. To do that, you can use a dustpan and brush, or you can use the large attachment on your vacuum cleaner. However, be sure that there are no sharp edges on this attachment, so you don’t scratch the leather.

If that is something that concerns you, then you can always use the dust attachment on your vacuum cleaner. The soft bristles on the brush are less likely to cause damage. The bristles will also help to get between the creases and seams on the sofa.

Once you have cleaned away any large debris, you will need to dust the leather to remove any smaller debris, which will be more challenging to see with the human eye. It is essential to remove the smaller debris as this can scratch the leather if it is left.

To dust the leather, you can purchase dusters that are specific for leather. These dusters, made of microfibre, you can buy for most major online stores such as Amazon and eBay for under ten dollars. The duster can be purchased as a standard cloth or as a hand wand, this is a personal choice so go the style that is best for you.

General Cleaning

Once you have removed all large debris and any small dust from your sofa, you can then move on to wiping it down. You can do that with a damp cloth and a mild soap such as dove. If you are using a new cleaning product, then ensure that you test this in an inconspicuous area. Then leave it to dry entirely and ensure that you are satisfied that it will not damage or discolor your furniture before continuing to clean the whole sofa.

  • Take a soft white cloth and dampen it. – Ensure that it is only damp as if it is too wet, it can damage the leather.
  • Apply a small amount of liquid soap to the cloth and wipe the sofa down.
  • Buff the entire sofa with your new clean cloth. – Do not rinse the soap away before doing this as the soap will help to condition the leather.

When looking into soaps to use on your leather, be sure that they are mild and gentle. Brands such as Dove or Simple, which are chemical-free, would be an excellent place to start. Be sure never to use washing up liquid as this contains chemicals that can damage or discolor the leather on your sofa.

You can also buy cleaning kits online, which will include a cleaning solution, a conditioner, white cloths for both applying and buffing. These solutions can clean the leather, restore the color, maintain the condition, repel stains, and give the leather the “new smell” back. There is a range of kits and solutions that you can choose from, and they vary in price. Look around for the best deal you can find. But remember to test new cleaning products in an inconspicuous place before using to clean the entire sofa.

Homemade Cleaners

If you do not want to use soap on your leather sofa and would instead take a more natural approach, then you can use the following cleaners:

  • Mix 1-part water, and 1-part white vinegar into a bowl. – Preferably distilled water, at room temperature. Tap water may have chemicals in it, such as chlorine, that could damage or discolor the leather.
  • Dip your cloth into this solution and wring out to ensure the fabric is only damp.
  • Work in small sections on the sofa, soaking that wringing out the cloth after each little section.
  • After cleaning each small section, buff the area as mentioned before with a dry clean cloth.

You will need to ensure you condition the leather on your sofa to prolong its life, and again, you may not want to use chemicals on the leather. If this is the case, then you can use the below homemade conditioner.

Homemade Conditioner

  • Mix 1-part distilled water, 1-part white vinegar, and 10 – 15 drops of either lemon or tea tree essential oil. – You could use a mixture of the two into the water.
  • Ensure that you are using pure essential oils. – Any diluted essential oils may contain chemicals that can damage the leather on your sofa.
  • Dip a clean white cloth into the solution. – Ensure that you wring the cloth out properly.
  • Wipe the sofa down with the cloth in circular motions. –  Regularly rinsing it in the mixture and wringing out before continuing.
  • Leave to dry overnight.
  • The next day buff the whole sofa with a clean, dry cloth in small circular motions. – That will bring the shine back to the leather.

Avoid using olive oil on your leather sofa at all times, as this can damage the leather over time. You should repeat the above process once or twice a year to keep the leather on your sofa in good condition.

Removing Stains

There may be times when stains get on your sofa, and these will need extra attention. One of the most significant kinds of stains is grease. Grease can get onto your couch in many different ways. That can be from your hair, beauty products, and foods.

If you do get this kind of stain on your leather sofa, then it is best practice to remove the stain as soon as you can to stop any permanent damage to the leather. Clean the stain thoroughly with the cleaning solution and then allow it to dry completely. If this does not remove the stain, try covering the stain with either talcum powder, Baking soda or corn starch, and leaving for several hours. Once this has been able to sit for several hours, brush away.

If you do not have a cleaning solution, then you can always blot away as much of the grease as possible with a clean cloth or kitchen paper. Once you have blotted as much of the grease as possible, you can then cover the stain with either talcum powder, Baking soda, or corn starch. Let this sit for 15 minutes. Once the time has passed, brush away with a soft bristle brush. If this has not removed the stain first time, the process can be repeated as many times as needed without causing damage to the leather.

Liquid Stains

If you spill any liquid on your leather sofa, then follow these steps:

  • Take a clean white cloth and soak us as much of the liquid as possible.
  • Let the area completely dry.
  • Inspect for any marks left by the liquid. – If the liquid has left a watermark behind, soak a clean white cloth and wring out well. Start from inside of the stain and work in circular motions out toward the edge of the mark. Do this in all directions, but be sure never to scrub only ever gently wipe.
  • Continue the process. – Soaking your cloth, wringing out well, and working in circular motions. Repeating this process will blend the watermark into the surrounding surface, giving less of a visual impact.

One of the worst stains to remove from leather is ink. As soon as you see an ink stain, try the following:

  • Use a clean white cloth or a cotton ball and blot the stain. – Do not rub as this will only spread the ink into a larger area. When you see the ink transferring to the cloth or cotton ball, then you know that this is working.
  • Leave the stain to dry.
  • Use a dry white cloth and a small amount of liquid soap. – Rub the stain in small circular motions in the direction of the stain. Use circles as little as possible to prevent the stain from spreading.
  • Repeat until the stain has gone.
  • Do not use alcohol to clean stains from your leather sofa. – That will result in the fading of the color and damage to the leather.
  • Once the stain has gone, you can buff the area with a clean, dry white cloth.

How To Clean An Upholstery Sofa

Before you do anything to clean your upholstered sofa, please check the label as there are many different types of fabrics used, and there may be specific care instructions for your sofa. Otherwise, have a look at the suggestions below.

The general cleaning codes are below with their meanings.

W – This means that the fabric is safe to clean with water-based products
W/S – This means that you can clean the material with both water and solvent-based cleaners
S – This means that you should only clean the fabric with solvent-based cleaners.
X – This means that the fabric should only be vacuumed or brushed.

  • Remove all throw covers and cushions from the couch.
  • Ensure that the base of the sofa is clean.
  • Remove any large debris that you can see. – Chocolate wrappers, loose change, lost pens, and so on.
  • Vacuum using the upholstery attachment vacuum up any crumbs, dust, or dirt. – Do that in a slow, sweeping motion as if you do this too quickly you will only bounce the bits around and not remove anything.
  • Be sure to get down the sides of the sofa as well. – You can do that by using the long attachment on your vacuum.

Before using any of the following cleaning suggestions, be sure to test them on an area of your sofa that is not visible. Once you have done this and have confirmed that they will not damage the fabric, then use them as you wish.

Baking Soda

Your sofa absorbs all that happens in your home and holds on to the smell. Therefore, if you are a smoker or have pets, those smells will cling to your sofa. The best thing to use to remove bad odors from your upholstered sofa is baking soda.

Once you have removed the visible dirt and dust, sprinkle baking soda over the base in generous amounts. The baking soda will absorb the smells from the sofa. Leave this to sit for roughly 20 – 30 minutes or possible leave this on overnight. If you have a carpet cleaner, this can also be mixed with the baking soda to give a bit of extra strength. Once the time has elapsed, then vacuum off the mixture.

How To Spot Clean using white vinegar

Sometimes you will get stubborn stains on your upholstered sofa, and you may not want to use harsh chemicals of the fabric. Below we will explain how to clean your upholstered sofa using white vinegar.

White vinegar is a fantastic thing to use to clean most stains on many different types of upholstery. Be sure to mix the vinegar with water. The mixture needs to be 1-part vinegar and 1-part water. Use a clean white microfibre cloth. It is good practice to use a white cloth as if you use a colored material; the colors may bleed onto the fabric of your sofa.

  • Soak your white cloth in the vinegar/water mix and ring out so that it is damp.
  • Use this damp cloth to blot the stain.
  • When the stain has gone, clean the area with mild hand soap to remove any smell of the vinegar.
  • All stains should be dealt with as soon as possible.

How to Spot clean with Soap

Take a bowl and mix 1 part mild soap and four parts warm water, beat this mixture together until it becomes a thick foam. Take a soft bristle brush and dip in the Foamy mixture. Gently rub the foam mixture in a circular motion into the stain.

After rubbing it into the stain, you need to remove it without rubbing it into the fabric. Take a spoon from your kitchen and use this to scrape the foam away from the surface. When you have removed all of the foam, take a clean white cloth and wipe away any left-over suds. Leave it to dry naturally.

Cleaning Watermarks From your Upholstered Sofa

Just like with a leather sofa, an upholstered sofa can also suffer from watermarks and liquid stains. If there is clean water spilled on a couch, then this should not leave a stain, but water mixed with anything else will leave a mark. However, there are minerals in mater such as iron, that may leave a rust-colored mark behind. Usually, these marks show as a round ring on the fabric after the water has dried.

When a spillage occurs on your sofa, follow these instructions:

  • Blot the spillage with a clean, dry white cloth. – Do not rub or scrub the liquid as this will result in spreading and possibly damage to the fabric.
  • Mix 1-part distilled water and 1-part white vinegar in a bowl and soak your rag in the solution.
  • Wring the cloth out and blot the stain.
  • Blotting from the outer of the stain and work towards the center of the stain. – That is the reverse of what you would do with a water stain on a leather sofa.
  • Leave the solution to sit on the material for around 15 minutes.
  • Once the times passed, take a clean cloth and dampen with warm water.
  • Blot the stain again to absorb the vinegar solution.
  • Repeat this process as many times as needed until the stain is less visible.
  • Allow the area to dry completely. – Alternatively, you can use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process, but be sure only to use the low heat setting.

Once dry, you may find there is a lingering smell from the white vinegar. If you do, cover the area with baking soda and leave to sit for at least 20 minutes, but the longer, the better. Once the baking soda has had time to sit and absorb the smell, vacuum it off.

How To Steam Cleaning Your Upholstered Sofa

You should give your sofa a deep clean at least once a year. Fabric can be a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, germs, and even dust mites. One of the best ways to deal with these issues is to steam clean it:

  • Remove all throws and cushions from the couch.
  • Vacuum the entire sofa, including the base. – Be sure to remove all large crumbs and dirt. Use the long attachment to get down the sides.
  • Use a bristle brush to loosen stubborn dirt. – Take care not to damage the fabric.
  • Use a lint roller to remove any hairs or small dirt. Even the best pet vacuum cleaners cannot get all of the pet hairs from your sofa.
  • Check the care label on your sofa. – Ensure that it is safe to be steamed cleaned. The code you will be looking for on this occasion is WS.
  • Use a pre-conditioning solution. – This solution may not be for sale at the shop that you have purchased or hired the steam cleaner, but you will be able to find it online. The solution is to break up dirt on the fabric, making removal easier. But this stage is an option.
  • Mix up the cleaning solution as per the instructions.
  • Now take a clean cloth and dip this into the cleaning solution.
  • Wring out the cloth and do a spot test. – Leave this for 20 minutes and then check to see if there has been any damage caused before you continue to clean the entire sofa. You can also blot at this section with a paper towel to ensure that there is no bleed from the color of your sofa.
  • Now you need to set up and use your steam cleaner as per the instructions. 
  • Allow the sofa to dry completely.

How To Dry Clean An Upholstered Sofa

You may not want to or be able to steam clean your upholstered sofa, and if this is the case that you could always try dry cleaning your sofa yourself. Again, this does not have to be an expensive venture, and below, we will explain how to do it yourself.

How To Dry Clean A Sofa

The process of dry cleaning uses a dry-cleaning solvent. That can surprise some people, as you think with dry cleaning, there is no liquid involved. However, dry cleaning means to clean without water. You may be able to purchase the dry-cleaning solvent from your local dry cleaners, but if not, you can always get it online. It is on both Amazon and eBay.

  • Open doors and windows to ventilate the area. – You could also use a fan to direct the odor out of the windows while you work.
  • Be sure to do a patch test on an inconspicuous area.
  • Leave for 10 minutes, and then check for damage.
  • Once you are satisfied that the solution will not cause damage to your couch, you can then continue to use it on the rest of the sofa.
  • Apply the solvent to a clean, dry white cloth and blot on to the upholstery. – You can concentrate on just the stained areas, or you can work on the entire sofa. If you are working on the whole sofa, then be sure to work in a grid to be able to keep track of the areas that you have worked on.
  • Never rub or scrub at the upholstery of your sofa, as this may cause damage.
  • Blot it dry with a new rag.

Dry cleaning solvent is a powerful solution, and you need to remember that a little goes a long way. Always read the directions of the product and follow them correctly.

How To Clean A Suede Sofa

Suede is terrific material and can add a cozy feeling to any home, but it is also a very delicate material that takes specific care. If you own a suede sofa, it is a good idea to learn about the material so that you can keep it looking beautiful at all times.

How To Clean A Suede Sofa

When cleaning a suede sofa, be sure that you have read the care instruction that came with it. Also, be sure that you are only using cleaning products that are safe to use on your particular sofa. With that said, let’s go ahead and look at how to colleen a suede sofa.

Before using any cleaning products on your suede sofa, be sure to do a patch test on an inconspicuous area of the couch. That is to ensure that the product will not cause any damage or fading to the material. Before you start cleaning, you will need to gather some materials. The stuff that you will need are:

  • Suede upholstery cleaner.
  • Vacuum cleaner.
  • Clean, dry white cloths.
  • Soft bristle suede brush.
  • Nap rubbing cloth.
  • a suede eraser.
  • White vinegar.
  • talcum powder.

Remove all throws and cushions from the sofa and remove any debris that you can see, such as loose change, sweet wrappers, and paper. Take your vacuum cleaner and apply the upholstery cleaning attachment. Thoroughly vacuum each of the cushions, use a slow sweeping motion to do this.

Once you have vacuumed each of the cushions, wipe over them with the suede brush. That will remove any remaining dust left behind. Using the suede brush will also fluff up the material again, keeping it look luxurious. Be sure to run the nap of the sofa with the nap rubbing cloth weekly, as this will ensure the fabric holds its shine and stop dust build-up.

How to Clean Grease Stains From A Suede Sofa

No matter how careful you are with your suede sofa, accidents will always happen. The quicker you deal with these accidents, the less damage they will leave behind. As we all know, suede can not get wet as this damages the material, so below are some ways of dealing with these stains.

Grease stains are, unfortunately, something that happens. They can get onto your suede fabric from your hair, beauty products, makeup, and even food. Below is an excellent process to clean grease stains from a suede sofa without causing any lasting damage.

  • The first thing to do when you notice a grease stain on your suede sofa is to cover it with talcum powder. – The talcum powder will absorb the grease and draw it out of the fabric.
  • Leave the powder to sit for at least an hour to absorb as much of the grease as possible. – As this happens, you will see that the color and the texture of the powder will change as it absorbs the oil.
  • Once the hour has passed, you can remove the powder with a soft bristle suede brush.

How to Remove Water Stains From Suede

It does not matter how careful you are around your suede sofa; there is always going to be a time when something gets spilled on it. The most important thing here is to treat the spillage as quickly as possible as the longer you leave the liquid to soak in, the harder it is going to be to get out. However, if that does happen, we hope that the steps below will help you to remove any water stains from the suede.

  • Take a clean, dry white cloth and blot at the spillage. – Do not scrub at the spillage as all this will do is spread the stain to a broader area.
  • Continue to blot at the stain until you have removed as much of the liquid as possible.
  • Leave it to dry. – Once you have removed as much liquid as possible, you need to leave to dry out completely, or you can use your hairdryer on the low-heat setting to speed up the drying process.
  • Once the area is dry, you can then take a clean white dry cloth, and using a suede upholstery cleaner, clean the stain in small circular motions. – Be sure never to use suede upholstery cleaner on the fabric while it is still wet.
  • The suede will be extra delicate while wet, and you could cause more damage.

If once you have completed this process, the stain remains, then please use the technique on how to get rid of dry stains below.

How To Remove Dry Stains From Suede

Older stains can be more challenging to remove from your suede sofa, but they are not impossible to extract. Following the below process and can help you to remove dry stains from your suede sofa.

  • Take your suede eraser and rub in small circular motions over the stains. – That will break down and lift any stubborn dirt build-up.
  • Take your suede brush and work over the stain again gently in small circular motions.
  • Now check the stain to see if this process has removed it.
  • If the stain persists, take some white vinegar and apply it to a dry clean white cloth. – Work over the stain in small circular gentle motions. Leave this to dry, and brush gently with your suede brush.


When it comes to sofas, accidents always happen. However, we hope that this article has helped you keep your sofa looking at its best, no matter what material it is. If you have tried the above techniques and you are still having problems with stains, then contact a professional cleaner.

As a final word of advice, always follow the care instructions on the label of your sofa and do patch tests in discrete places before using new cleaning products and always use clean white cloths.

If you would like us to help you with cleaning, please contact us here.


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