Sofa Cleaning Tips

by Rose Kivi
Regular cleanings can help keep your sofa looking new and smelling fresh.

Regular cleanings can help keep your sofa looking new and smelling fresh.

Whether your sofa needs just a little freshening up or a more complicated stain removal, the proper cleaning methods are essential. The last thing you want to do is use the wrong cleaners and damage your sofa. Several different home-cleaning methods can help you remove dust, dirt, spills, stains and mold. You can usually clean your sofa at home without the help of a professional. For severe stains, a professional upholstery cleaning company or repair service may be needed.

Manufacturer's Instructions

The type of material the upholstery of your sofa is made of dictates which types of cleaners are safe to use. Check the tags on your sofa cushions for the manufacturer's cleaning instructions. Some sofa tags list cleaning codes that instruct you on which types of cleaners are safe to use on the couch. By identifying the code, you can determine what cleaners to use. A "W" code stands for water-based cleaners. "S" stands for water-free solvent cleaners. "WS" means that both water-based cleaners and water-free solvent cleaners are safe to use. "X" means that no cleaners should be used on the sofa. If your sofa tags do not have directions on which types of cleaning products to use, test a cleaner on an inconspicuous spot of the sofa to determine if it will cause discoloration to the fabric.

Regular Sofa Cleaning for Fabric Sofas

For regular sofa cleaning when stains are not an issue, there is no need to use cleansers. An efficient way to remove dust and dirt from your sofa is to vacuum it using the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner. An alternative to vacuuming is to brush the sofa with a soft-bristled cleaning brush to loosen and free dust and dirt from the upholstery and to unmat the fibers of the sofa fabric. Vacuum or brush your sofa periodically to keep it looking new.

Freshen Fabric Sofa Odors

Fabric sofas can pick up body odors, pet odors and other odors from the house. Freshen the scent of your sofa by sprinkling it liberally with baking soda. Make sure your sofa is dry before sprinkling baking soda on it. Let the baking soda sit for 10 minutes before vacuuming or brushing it off.

Removing Stains from Fabric Sofas

A variety of upholstery cleaners are on the market for removing sofa stains. Central Michigan University recommends using the Energine, Carbona or Renuzit brand upholstery cleaners for sofa stain removal. Look for these products at grocery stores, cleaning supply stores and building supply stores. Check to make sure these products meet your sofa manufacturer's specifications for types of cleaners or spot test them before use on a hidden area of your couch, such as underneath the sofa cushions.

Mold Removal from Fabric Sofas

If your couch becomes soaked due to an unnoticed spill or leaking roof, mold may develop. You may be able to remove the mold, depending on the severity, if it is only on the fabric of the sofa. Mold that has developed on the inside stuffing of the sofa is impossible to remove, notes Sam Umscheid, MSW, in the publication "Safer Cleaning" by the Children's Mercy Hospital Environmental Health Program.

Before attempting to remove mold from the sofa fabric, dry out the sofa by placing it in the sun or by drying it with a hair dryer. Vacuum the dry couch to remove powdery mold. Dispose of the vacuum bag or empty the vacuum canister in an outside trashcan to avoid contaminating your home with mold. Scrub the couch with a soft-bristled brush and upholstery cleaner or the suds from detergent. Use the upholstery cleaner or detergent suds sparingly to avoid getting the stuffing in your sofa wet. Let the sofa dry. If mold still remains, make a mold removal cleaner by combining 1 cup rubbing alcohol with 1 cup water. Saturate a white cloth with the alcohol solution and scrub the moldy areas of the sofa. If none of these mold removal techniques work, hire a professional upholstery cleaner who specializes in water damage and mold removal.

Leather and Vinyl Sofas

Clean leather and vinyl sofas using leather or vinyl cleansers -- leather cleaner for leather sofas and vinyl cleaner for vinyl sofas -- marketed for home or auto upholstery. Apply a small amount of the cleaner to a soft cloth and wipe down the sofa to remove dust, dirt, stains, to freshen odors and to moisturize the leather or vinyl to help prevent it from drying out and cracking. Remove debris underneath sofa cushions by vacuuming with an upholstery attachment or sweeping with a small hand broom.

About the Author

Rose Kivi has been a writer for more than 10 years. She has a background in the nursing field, wildlife rehabilitation and habitat conservation. Kivi has authored educational textbooks, patient health care pamphlets, animal husbandry guides, outdoor survival manuals and was a contributing writer for two books in the Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Series.

Photo Credits

  • B2M Productions/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images