How to Clean a Couch that Smells: A Simple Step-by-Step Guide

Last updated on March 27, 2024

This guide provides easy, practical strategies to refresh a stinky couch, eliminating odors and restoring a fresh, inviting atmosphere in your living space.

Key takeaways:

  • Inspect the couch for specific areas of odor.
  • Vacuum the couch thoroughly.
  • Apply baking soda and white vinegar for odor removal.
  • Address stains and spills promptly.
  • Follow a regular cleaning and maintenance routine.

Table of Contents

Inspect the Couch for Specific Areas of Odor

Begin by systematically checking your couch, as odors can be concentrated in certain areas such as cushions or crevices where debris tends to accumulate.

Sniff along the surface to identify the strongest sources of the smell.

Remove all cushions and pillows to inspect both sides and the underlying structure.

It’s essential to pinpoint the exact spots where the odor is most pungent to treat them effectively.

Pay special attention to areas that come into frequent contact with skin or pets, as these are often culprits for lingering odors.

Once the problematic areas are located, you can move on to a thorough cleaning.

Vacuum the Couch Thoroughly

Begin by removing the cushions and any throw pillows from the couch to expose all surfaces.

Use the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner to remove dust, dirt, and small particles from the couch’s surface thoroughly.

Don’t overlook crevices and folds; these hidden areas often harbor debris contributing to unpleasant odors.

Regular vacuuming not only helps in keeping the couch clean but also prevents the build-up of allergens and keeps the fabric in good condition.

For persistent pet hair, consider using a lint roller after vacuuming to ensure all pet hair is removed.

Remember, a clean surface is more receptive to odor treatments, thereby making subsequent steps more effective.

Apply Baking Soda and White Vinegar for Odor Removal

Sprinkling baking soda over the entire surface of your couch can absorb unwanted scents. Let it sit for at least 20 minutes or, for deeper odors, leave it overnight. Then, vacuum up the baking soda, which will have lifted some of the odors from the fabric.

For persistent smells, mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Test the solution on a small, inconspicuous area of the couch to ensure no discoloration occurs. If the test area remains unchanged, lightly mist the surface of the couch. Don’t oversaturate, as too much moisture can encourage mildew. The vinegar scent will dissipate as it dries, taking the couch odor with it.

Opening windows or using fans can accelerate the drying process and help further eliminate odors. Remember, the goal is to freshen the couch, not to saturate it, so use both baking soda and the vinegar solution sparingly.

Address Stains and Spills Promptly

Tackle stains immediately—time is of the essence to prevent odors from setting in. Blot, rather than rub, to avoid spreading the spill. Use a clean, dry cloth or paper towel for absorption. Identify the upholstery material and choose an appropriate cleaner; fabric, leather, and synthetic materials all have specific products designed for safe use. Always perform a spot test on an inconspicuous area to ensure colorfastness. Follow product instructions for application and removal. Gently pat the cleaned area dry and allow it to air out. If a persistent smell remains after treating stains, it may be worthwhile to consult a professional upholstery cleaner for specialized help.

Follow a Regular Cleaning and Maintenance Routine

To sustain a fresh-smelling couch, integrate these practices into your household routine:

  • Vacuum weekly to remove crumbs and dust that can contribute to odors.
  • Use armrest covers and throws that can be washed regularly, capturing spills and dirt before they reach the couch material.
  • If your couch cushions have removable covers, launder them according to manufacturer’s instructions every few months.
  • Air out the room often by opening windows to circulate fresh air and dispel any lingering smells.
  • Keep a fabric refresh spray on hand for a quick spritz between deeper cleans, ensuring it’s suitable for your couch’s fabric.
  • Enforce house rules such as no eating on the couch and wiping off pets’ paws to minimize odor-causing residues.


How do you get the smell out of a fabric couch?

To get the smell out of a fabric couch, sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the entire couch surface and let it sit for 15 to 30 minutes.

How can I make my musty couch smell better?

To freshen up your musty couch, apply a mixture of water and baking soda onto the upholstery, let it sit for about 10 minutes, then gently wipe it off with a damp cloth, repeating this process as necessary until any persistent odors are eliminated.

How do you deep clean a couch?

Deep cleaning a couch involves vacuuming the surface to eliminate loose dirt and debris, then gently scrubbing it with a soft cloth or upholstery brush dipped in a solution of mild detergent and warm water, with particular attention to stained or soiled areas.

How do you freshen a fabric couch?

To freshen a fabric couch, create a mixture of washing-up liquid, white vinegar, baking soda and warm water, apply it to any stains or smudges, and let it dry for about 10 minutes.

What are the best household items to use for removing foul odors from a couch?

Baking soda, white vinegar, activated charcoal, and essential oils are effective household items for removing foul odors from a couch.

How does professional upholstery cleaning deal with smelly couches?

Professional upholstery cleaning deals with smelly couches by using specialized cleaning solutions and equipment to remove odors, dirt, and bacteria that cause foul smells.

Are there specific cleaning solutions that combat pet odors on a fabric couch?

Yes, specific cleaning solutions such as enzymatic cleaners are designed to combat pet odors on a fabric couch.

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