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How to Clean a Couch the Right Way

A person cleaning their couch cushions.

The couch is a sacred place in every home, meant for relaxing, enjoying snacks, reading books, and watching movies. With all that sofa action, understanding how to clean a couch the right way is essential for a tidy impression.

If you’re unsure when the last time you deep cleaned your couch was, don’t worry— we’re not entirely sure either. That’s why we spoke with home experts Mallory Micetich from Angi and Kathy Cohoon from Two Maids and a Mop about how to clean couches correctly.

How to Clean a Cloth Couch


Couches can be designed using all sorts of different upholstery fabrics, and understanding which tools and cleaning agents work safely on the material is a must. We asked both home experts how to clean three of the most common types of couches; cloth, microfiber, and leather.

When cleaning a cloth couch, Micetich recommends checking the manufacturer’s details before getting started because there are many upholstery fabrics. Otherwise, a professional steam cleaning job is a great option if you don’t mind spending the money.

If you want to get the job done yourself, Cohoon recommends that you remove the cushions and vacuum the entire couch, including any hard-to-reach areas. She told Lifesavvy to “use a ruler or small cleaning brush to wiggle stuck hair or debris from crevices.”

Once you’ve vacuumed the couch, you’ll freshen it up with a good wash. While upholstery cleaners work to remove stains from fragile fabrics, there’s a DIY alternative that Cohoon recommends using if you don’t have one.

Professional Quality

Bissell Upholstery Cleaner

A gentle and effective cleaner.

“Mix up a dab of gentle laundry detergent and warm water to create a cleaning solution that will provide a deep clean and boost of freshness,” Cohoon said. “Make sure to always spot-test any cleaning solution for color damage.”

You can spot-test with your cleaning solution in an unnoticeable spot (like the underside of the cushions) to avoid possible color damage. After spot testing, apply small amounts of your DIY cleaning solution with a soft cloth and soak up any excess moisture with a dry microfiber cloth, then air dry your couches with the help of a ceiling or box fan.

How to Clean a Microfiber Couch

Spraying and wiping a microfiber couch with rubbing alcohol.

Both Cohoon and Micetich agreed that rubbing alcohol is your best cleaning agent for microfiber couches. Like all other couches, you’ll want to tackle the first layer of crumbs with your vacuum and use the upholstery attachment to reach those crevices.

Rubbing Alcohol

Just what you need to clean microfiber couches.

First, fill a spray bottle with rubbing alcohol and grab a microfiber towel. From there, Micetich says to “lightly spray the entire couch with rubbing alcohol, taking extra care to saturate any stained areas fully.”

Sally's Organics Clear Glass Spray Bottles

Reusable spray bottles for all your cleaning needs.

Once you’ve sprayed your couch down, “gently rub the couch with a microfiber cloth until all of the visible dirt is gone,” Micetich told us. “Wait for the couch to dry completely before brushing the surface with a soft-bristled brush to give the couch its soft and fluffy texture back.”

If you have a microfiber couch, you’re in luck, as the cleaning job is pretty straightforward.

How to Clean a Leather Couch


Properly cleaning leather couches might seem a little intimidating. After spending extra money on those nice sofas, the last thing you want to do is ruin the material. Luckily, both Micetich and Cohoon were generous in providing all the instruction we needed for a job well done.

Like all couches, remove cushions, and vacuum to remove any dirt or debris. From there, Cohoon told LifeSavvy to “use very mild, clear dish soap and lukewarm water to wipe down the entire surface of the couch with a soft cloth.”

Be sure not to oversaturate any areas of the couch but focus on stains by rubbing the soft cloth in a circular motion. She recommends that you repeat if necessary and let your sofas dry thoroughly with the help of a soft dry cloth.

Micetich told us about her favorite couch-cleaning product, Saddle Soap, which helps clean away dirt, grime, or winter salt stains that may have built up over time.

Bickmore Saddle Soap

Formulated with lanolin for moisturizing and superb cleaning.

Like all new products, Micetich recommends that you “start by applying saddle soap to a small, inconspicuous spot on your couch as a test,” she said. “If your couch does not react well to the saddle soap, you’ll need to bring in a pro to clean your couch.”

Otherwise, if the leather material reacts well to the saddle soap and water application, you should be safe to clean the entire couch.

Once you’ve vacuumed the couch and cleaned under those cushions, Micetich says to “wipe down your couch with a damp, soapy microfiber cloth” using the saddle soap and warm water.

She says to “go over it again with a damp, soap-free microfiber cloth to remove any soap residue, then dry the couch using a dry microfiber cloth and let it air dry for 24-48 hours.”

Bickmore Leather Conditioner

Polishes and protects the surface of your leather couches.

She also recommends applying a leather cream conditioner once completely dry to help rehydrate the couch. Both Bickmore products are tried and true and well-liked by countless customers.

How to Clean Couch Stains

A stain on a couch.

Sometimes your couch needs a little touch-up here and there instead of a complete deep clean. Because all sofas are made from different materials, checking the manufacturer’s cleaning guidelines is your safest bet before getting started.

If your fabric couch has a new spot that needs to be taken care of, Cohoon recommends using a gentle spot remover to get rid of it. These spot cleaners are sometimes referred to as upholstery cleaners and come in different formulas, depending on the material you are cleaning.

She says, “treat your couch and make sure to allow ample dry time and be sure not to oversaturate the area to avoid damage or watermarks.”

Weiman Leather Spot Cleaner

Perfect for leather, faux leather, and Vinyl.

You can tackle spots with Weiman leather spot cleaner for your leather couch; otherwise, use Woolite INSTAclean stain remover for fabric couches.

Woolite INSTAclean Stain Remover

Tackle stains on your upholstery and carpets.

If pet hair is your number one issue, Micetich recommends “investing in a vacuum that has good pet and upholstery attachments that can quickly remove pet hair from your couch.” She also suggests having “lint rollers on hand for quick touch-ups.”

If you already have a vacuum you like but need help tackling layers of pet hair, a handheld vacuum designed for just that might be a more affordable option. The Bissell pet hair eraser is compact, lightweight, and works like a charm.

Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Hand Vacuum

Clean dirt, dust, and pet hair from couches and chairs.

The couch is a place we all love to go to, but it’s often forgotten on cleaning day. Now that you know how to remove stains and freshen up those cushions, you can move on to cleaning your walls, another overlooked place that could use occasional cleaning.

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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