How to Clean a Used Couch: Step-By-Step Guide for an Easy Cleaning Process

Last updated on April 7, 2024

This step-by-step guide provides practical solutions on how to cleanse a used couch effectively, transforming it into a fresh and comfortable piece of furniture in your home.

Key takeaways:

  • Assess the couch’s fabric type for proper cleaning method
  • Gather cleaning supplies based on care label instructions
  • Vacuum every surface and cushion to remove dust and debris
  • Treat surface stains and spots according to cleaning codes
  • Follow regular maintenance tips for ongoing couch care

Table of Contents

Assessing the Couch’s Fabric Type

Knowing what material you’re dealing with is crucial for choosing the right cleaning method. Check for a manufacturer’s tag; it should indicate whether your couch can be cleaned with water (W), a solvent (S), both (SW), or neither (X). If it’s absent or unreadable:

  • Upholstery fabric often fits into categories like natural fibers, synthetics, leather, or blends.
  • Delicate fabrics like silk or linen may require professional cleaning to avoid damage.
  • Leather calls for specialized cleaners and conditioners to preserve its quality.
  • Synthetic fabrics, such as polyester or microfiber, are generally more tolerant to water-based cleaning.
  • Perform a spot test on a hidden area with your intended cleaner to ensure colorfastness and that no damage occurs.

Arming yourself with this knowledge paves the way for effective and safe couch cleaning.

Gathering Cleaning Supplies

Begin by examining your couch’s care label for recommended cleaning methods; this will dictate which supplies you’ll need. For general cleaning, compile a vacuum with an upholstery attachment to remove dust and loose debris. Have a bucket of warm water on hand along with mild dish soap for fabric sofas, or a leather cleaner for leather upholstery.

For spot cleaning, microfiber cloths or soft brushes can be gently used to work out stains without harming the fabric. A spray bottle may be helpful to apply a mixture of water and dish soap or vinegar evenly. Baking soda is excellent for odor removal and can be sprinkled over the surface before vacuuming.

For tougher stains, consider having an enzyme cleaner (for protein-based stains) or a solvent-based cleaner (for synthetic fabrics) available. Always perform a spot test on a concealed area of the couch to ensure the cleaner doesn’t cause discoloration.

Lastly, gather a few clean white cotton cloths; they won’t transfer color to your couch while wiping away cleaning solutions. Even with all the right supplies, remember to use them sparingly to prevent saturating the couch, which can lead to mold and mildew.

Vacuum Every Surface and Cushion

Start by removing all cushions and pillows to reveal unseen areas where debris can hide. Using a vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment, methodically pass over every part of the couch, including the arms, back, skirt, and platform beneath the cushions. Don’t forget the crevices; a crevice tool is perfect for getting into tight spots and extracting accumulated dust and dirt. For delicate fabrics, a brush attachment can gently loosen particles without causing damage. If the cushions are reversible, vacuum both sides to ensure a thorough clean and help maintain the couch’s shape and comfort.

Regular vacuuming not only contributes to the couch’s cleanliness but also extends its lifespan by preventing dirt from wearing down the fabric.

Treat Surface Stains and Spots

Begin by identifying the nature of the stain; whether it is oil-based, water-based, or an unknown substance. Check the manufacturer’s label for cleaning codes which advise on suitable cleaning methods for different types of stains.

For water-based stains, a simple solution of mild dish detergent and warm water often does the trick. Apply with a soft cloth and dab gently, avoiding rubbing which can spread the stain or damage fibers.

Oil-based stains might require a solvent-based cleaner. In this case, apply a small amount of dry cleaning solvent to a clean white cloth and dab the stain, working from the outside in to prevent spreading. Always use solvents in a well-ventilated area.

For unknown stains, start with the gentlest method – dabbing with a damp cloth and mild cleaner. If the stain persists, escalate to stronger cleaning agents appropriate for the couch’s fabric.

If using any new cleaning product, always spot-test an inconspicuous area first to ensure it does not discolor or damage the fabric.

Once the stain is lifted, blot the area with a dry cloth to remove excess moisture and let it air dry completely. Avoid using heat or direct sunlight to dry the area as this may set the stain or damage the fabric.

Regular Maintenance Tips

To keep your couch looking its best, incorporate these habits into your routine:

  • Quick clean-ups: Swiftly address spills by blotting, not rubbing, with an absorbent cloth.
  • Vacuuming: A weekly pass with a vacuum prevents dirt buildup deep within the fibers.
  • Cushion rotation: Regularly rotate and fluff cushions for even wear and prolonged life.
  • Throw blankets and covers: Use these accessories to protect the fabric from wear and stains.
  • Professional cleaning: Consider scheduling a professional cleaning annually to refresh and extend the life of your couch.

By regularly attending to your couch with these simple practices, you can maintain its comfort and aesthetic appeal.


How do you clean and disinfect a couch?

To clean and disinfect a couch, prepare a mixture of equal proportions of water and white vinegar in a spray bottle, test spray on a small hidden area of the couch for potential damages, and if there’s no damage, spray the entire couch and wipe it down with a clean, damp cloth.

What can I use to clean an old couch?

To clean an old couch with fabric upholstery, prepare a mixture of 1/4 cup vinegar, 3/4 warm water and 1 tablespoon of dish soap or Castile soap, spray it on the soiled area, then scrub with a soft cloth until the stain lifts.

What are the best upholstery cleaners suitable for deep cleaning a couch?

The best upholstery cleaners for deep cleaning a couch include the Bissell SpotClean Professional Portable Carpet Cleaner, Hoover Power Scrub Elite Pet Upright Carpet Cleaner, and Rocco & Roxie Stain & Odor Eliminator.

How do you remove stubborn stains from your used sofa?

Stubborn stains on a used sofa can be removed by applying a mixture of warm water, mild dish soap, and white vinegar, then gently blotting the spot with a clean cloth until it disappears.

Are there any home remedies available for sanitizing a second-hand couch?

Yes, there are home remedies available for sanitizing a second-hand couch such as using a mixture of white vinegar and water, baking soda, or rubbing alcohol.

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