How to Wash Couch Cushions: Easy Steps for Clean Comfort at Home

Last updated on March 30, 2024

This comprehensive guide will provide you with practical and easy steps to wash your couch cushions, ensuring they remain fresh, clean, and in excellent condition.

Key takeaways:

  • Different couch cushions require unique cleaning methods.
  • Gather necessary supplies: vacuum cleaner, mild detergent, towels, etc.
  • Follow instructions carefully for machine-washable and non-removable cushions.
  • Deep-clean removable cushions by unzipping covers and following specific steps.
  • Deep-clean non-removable cushions with thorough vacuuming and spot cleaning.

Table of Contents

Understanding Couch Cushion Types

Different couch cushions require unique cleaning methods, depending on their material and construction. Some cushions have removable covers, typically zipped, that you can take off and clean separately. These are often machine washable, but it’s crucial to check the care label for specific instructions.

Non-removable cushion covers cannot be detached from the cushion, making spot cleaning or hand-washing the only options. For these, ascertain if they are water-safe or if a solvent-based cleaner is needed to avoid damaging the fabric.

Foam inserts, commonly found inside cushion covers, should not be machine washed as they can break down. Instead, consider airing them out, spot cleaning, or using foam-specific cleaning methods.

Understanding whether you’re dealing with synthetic materials like polyester, which are generally more durable and stain-resistant, or natural fibers like cotton that may need gentler cleaning agents, is also crucial.

Lastly, some cushions are labeled with cleaning codes, such as “W” for water-based cleaners, “S” for solvent-based cleaners, or “WS” for either. Adhering to these codes ensures safe and effective cleaning, preserving the life of your couch cushions.

What You’ll Need

Before diving into the cleaning process, gather the following supplies:

  • A vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to remove loose debris.
  • Mild detergent suitable for upholstery to treat and clean the fabric.
  • A bucket or bowl for mixing the cleaning solution.
  • Clean, absorbent towels for blotting and potentially drying the cushions.
  • A soft-bristled brush for gentle scrubbing on fabric surfaces.
  • A spray bottle for water or the cleaning solution to mist the fabric evenly.

Optional items depending on cushion material and cleaning needs:

  • Enzyme cleaner for stains from organic materials like food or pet accidents.
  • A hair dryer or fan for speeding up the drying process.
  • Fabric protector spray to apply after cleaning, safeguarding against future stains.

Ensure all products are appropriate for your couch’s fabric type by checking the manufacturer’s label or performing a spot test in an inconspicuous area.


Before proceeding, check the manufacturer’s label for care instructions to avoid damaging the fabric. For removable covers, unzip and remove them from the cushions. If the label indicates that machine washing is safe, use a gentle cycle with cold water and a mild detergent. Avoid bleach to prevent discoloration. After washing, allow the covers to air dry completely to prevent shrinkage — do not use a dryer unless the label explicitly says it’s safe.

For non-removable cushion covers, create a cleaning solution by mixing a few drops of mild detergent in water. Dip a soft brush or cloth into the solution and gently scrub the cushions’ surface. Be careful not to saturate the fabric, as excess water can be hard to remove. Wipe away soap residue with a clean, damp cloth and allow the cushions to air dry fully before use.

Spot cleaning for both removable and non-removable cushions involves treating stains directly with a suitable cleaner. Test the cleaner on an inconspicuous area first to ensure colorfastness. Apply the cleaner to the stain, gently rub with a soft brush or cloth, rinse with a damp cloth, and let dry. Always treat stains promptly for the best chance of complete removal.

How to Deep-Clean Removable Couch Cushions

Begin by unzipping the covers and removing them from the cushions, unless the manufacturer’s tag advises against this.

Check for care labels to ensure they are machine washable. If they are, proceed with a gentle cycle using cold water and mild detergent, avoiding bleach or fabric softeners.

For drying, opt for air drying or a low-heat tumble dry to prevent shrinkage.

In cases where machine washing isn’t advised, spot-clean with upholstery shampoo or a suitable solvent.

After spot cleaning, use a soft brush in a circular motion to lift dirt and a clean, damp cloth to rinse.

Let the covers air dry completely before reassembling to prevent mildew growth.

For persistent stains, consider consulting a professional cleaner to avoid damage.

How to Deep-Clean Non-Removable Couch Cushions

Deep-cleaning non-removable couch cushions requires a different approach than their removable counterparts. Since you can’t simply unzip and launder them, here’s what to do:

1. Vacuum thoroughly: Use an upholstery attachment to extract dust, dirt, and crumbs from every nook and cranny.

2. Spot clean stains: Mix a gentle cleaning solution appropriate for your cushion’s fabric. Apply to stains using a soft cloth or sponge, dabbing gently rather than scrubbing to prevent damage.

3. Use upholstery cleaner: For a more comprehensive clean, spray a commercial upholstery cleaner across the surface following the product’s instructions carefully. Test on an inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t discolor the fabric.

4. Steam clean if possible: If the fabric is water-safe and you have a steam cleaner, use it to sanitize and refresh the cushions. Move the steamer evenly to avoid over-wetting any area.

5. Dry properly: Allow the cushions to air dry completely, using fans or opening windows to facilitate airflow and reduce drying time, which helps prevent mold and mildew growth.

6. Maintain with regular care: Repeat the vacuuming and spot cleaning as needed to keep your non-removable cushions in the best condition, and try to address spills as soon as they occur.


Can you put couch cushions in the washer?

Yes, couch cushion covers can be washed in cold water either by hand or on a delicate cycle in the washing machine using dye-free laundry detergent or spot removers; however, it’s important to check the label, as some may be spot-clean only.

Can you wash the foam inside couch cushions?

Yes, you can clean the foam inside couch cushions by lightly washing the surface with a damp cloth and then vacuuming to bring any absorbed moisture to the surface.

Can you wash down couch cushions?

The recommendation for cleaning down couch cushions is to utilize specialized upholstery cleaners or dry cleaning solvents, combined with airing the cushions every three to six months, instead of washing them with water to prevent feather damage.

What precautions should be taken when spot cleaning fabric couch cushions?

When spot cleaning fabric couch cushions, precautions should include testing a small, hidden area first to avoid discoloration or fabric damage, using a mild, water-based cleaner to avoid harsh chemical damage, and patting the area dry instead of rubbing it to prevent the fabric from pilling.

Can outdoor furniture cushions be cleaned in a similar way as indoor couch cushions?

Yes, outdoor furniture cushions can be cleaned much like indoor couch cushions, but material type and weather exposure might necessitate extra measures for longevity and effectiveness.

How often should one wash couch cushions to maintain their longevity and appearance?

Couch cushions should ideally be washed every three to six months to maintain their longevity and appearance.

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