Over time, crumbs, spills, dirt, and grime build up your sofa, making it look less than inviting. Professional furniture cleaning can be expensive, but with a few basic items and a little know-how, you can easily clean your sofa yourself.

Step 1: Vacuum All Areas

The first step in cleaning a sofa is to vacuum any dirt and debris from the surface. Those various attachments that come with your vacuum cleaner actually serve a purpose, so dig them out to help you reach and clean every nook and cranny of your sofa. You should have a brush attachment and crevice tool for this job. Don’t forget to remove and vacuum both sides of any cushions.

Helpful tip: A lint roller can help to quickly and effectively remove excess pet hair.

Step 2: Clean Any Hard Surfaces

Next, use a mixture of warm water with liquid dish soap to gently wipe down the feet of your sofa and any other non-fabric parts. A soft washcloth is ideal for this task as it won’t scratch wood, metal, or plastic.

Step 3: Choose the Right Cleaner for Your Fabric

Now that you’ve removed grime and debris from the surfaces of your sofa, it’s time to give it a deeper clean. How you tackle this step will depend on what upholstery code is on the tag of your sofa, and the type of material it is made from.

  • WS: A dry-cleaning detergent or mild detergent with a steam vacuum can be used.
  • S: Use a dry-cleaning detergent only.
  • X: Vacuum only. Do not use water or cleaners.
  • W: Water can be used to clean.

Step 4: Spot-Treat Any Stains

Once you’ve made it this far, it’s time to tackle any stains on your sofa. You can use either a store-bought cleaning solution or make your own using natural ingredients. The type of cleaner you’ll need will again depend on what material your sofa is made of:

  • For a leather sofa: Mix 1/2 cup olive oil with 1/4 cup vinegar in a spray bottle. Lightly spray this mixture on the surface of the sofa. Follow by buffing with a soft cloth.
  • For a fabric sofa: Mix 1/4 cup vinegar, 3/4 cup warm water and 1 tablespoon of a mild dish detergent or castile soap in a spray bottle. Lightly mist any soiled areas. Gently scrub the stain with a soft cloth until it begins to lift. Next, using a fresh cloth that’s been moistened with clean water, remove any soap from the fabric before drying with a towel.
  • For a sofa made from synthetic materials: Mix 1/2 cup of vinegar, 1 cup of warm water, and 1/2 tablespoon of a mild dish detergent or castile soap in a spray bottle. Lightly mist any soiled areas. Gently scrub the stain with a soft cloth until it is gone.

Helpful tip: Be careful not to rub the stain too hard. Use gentle pressure and dab it to avoid getting it too deep in the sofa fibers.
Keep in mind: Homemade cleaners are kinder to the Earth and easier on the waller, but they may not be as effective as commercial varieties, so you might need to use a little more elbow grease to remove the stain.

Step 5: Allow to Dry

Now that your sofa is squeaky clean, all that’s left is to dry it. Use some towels to soak up any excess moisture from the surface of the sofa, before allowing it to air dry completely.

Helpful tip: A well-placed fan can help to speed up the drying process, especially in humid conditions. You can also use a hairdryer on the cool air setting to help dry your sofa quicker.

When all else fails, it may be time to call in the professionals, especially for stubborn or hard-to-treat stains. A sofa is a piece of furniture that gets a lot of use and will last for a long time if properly cared for, so it’s worth the investment to keep it clean.