In many homes, the couch is the focal point of the living room. And, it doesn’t matter if you’ve planned a whole day of binging shows by yourself or are hosting friends for a game night, no one wants to spend their Saturday night (or any other night for that matter) on a dirty couch. You may be wondering what is the best way to clean a couch, considering it’s such an awkward piece of furniture. That is exactly why we’ve put together this guide on how to clean a fabric couch – and keep it clean!
Do Your Due Diligence
Before starting your sofa cleaning, it’s always a good idea to check the manufacturer’s tag for specific cleaning how-to's. On upholstery, it’s likely called the manufacturer's cleanability code tag. If the fabric is coded "WS" or "W", it’s safe to clean. If your tag is coded "X" or "S", it is not safe to clean, due to the type of fabric the couch is made from. Once you see that it’s okay to be cleaned, test a small hidden area of your couch for colorfastness.
Now that you know your couch is okay to clean, and the color isn’t affected, take off anything that can be removed from the sofa. That means throw blankets, pillows and anything else you may have on it. Most blankets can be washed in the washing machine, and in some cases, so can those pillowcases. But of course, you’ll want to double check the tags on those to make sure you’re washing them correctly. If you don’t see a tag, contact the manufacturer to make sure you wash it correctly.
The Right Tools
Once you have all the ‘extras’ off the couch, focus on the cushions. Technically, these can be taken off, and they should, but they can’t just be thrown in the washing machine. That’s where so many of our BISSELL products will come in handy. Start by removing all pillows and blankets and use your vacuum’s attachments to clean hair and loose dirt from the surface. Our TurboBrush® Tool is perfect for this. It’s a mini rotating brush tool for places like your couch, because it’s small enough to fit into small spaces above the floor. It has spinning bristles that grip pet hair and other debris embedded on couch fabric and pulls them into your vacuum’s dirt tank. To use, attach the TurboBrush Tool to your vacuum’s hose, press gently down on the couch cushions and pull the brush toward you in a raking motion. Once you’re done getting the dry debris off the cushions, switch out your attachments for the crevice tool. Use this cleverly thin tool to get into those tricky spots, like between the couch where all those crumbs (and who knows what else) always fall.
We also make handheld vacuums specially for smaller messes, like the ones that happen on your couch. We recommend the Pet Hair Eraser® Cordless Pet Vacuum. It’s designed by pet parents to help clean up messes wherever your pet goes. It also comes with a motorized brush roll to help capture pet hair on soft surfaces, including fabric couches. The BOLT® ION XRT 2 in 1 Cordless Vacuum is also great because it’s a lightweight stick vacuum that can clean messes on the floor, but also quickly and easily convert into a hand vacuum so it can be a couch cleaner.
Deep Clean your Couch
Now that the dry debris is removed, let’s give your couch a good, deep clean. But, before you get your carpet cleaner out, take a look at your couch and assess any glaring stains that need a little extra attention. Tackle those stains by pretreating them with one of our specially developed formulas. We love the enzyme power of our Pet Pretreat + Sanitize Formula as a fabric sofa cleaner if you have old pet stains or odd odors. It’s an all-in-one formula that cleans, sanitizes, deodorizes, freshens and eliminates allergens* on the fabric of your sofa. Many of our other formulas have the power of oxygen behind them, like Woolite® Instaclean™ Stain Remover. Oxy cleaners work great on colored stains, like spilled drinks and food. These formulas start working the second they makes contact with stains to mobilize, lift and penetrate the stains where they started.
Speaking of couch cleaners, we recommend any of our portable carpet cleaners as a fabric couch cleaner, specifically the ones with attachments. The SpotClean Professional Portable Carpet Cleaner is our best seller. It’s also our most powerful portable carpet cleaner because it combines powerful suction, scrubbing action and professional cleaning solution to remove stubborn spots and stains from your couch. All of our portable carpet cleaning machines have their own special formulas, made to do the best cleaning with a smaller machine. The best one for sofa cleaning depends on your spots and stains, but we suggest trying our 2X® Pet Stain & Odor Carpet Cleaning Formula or Professional Spot & Stain + Oxy.
Once you’re done sofa cleaning, you will need to let it dry. There are a few factors that speed up or slow down dry time, so each case is different, but we recommend waiting 4-6 hours before sitting on your couch. You can also point a fan at the couch to help speed up the drying time or consider moving a dehumidifier into the room until the sofa is dry.
While this is a guide for how to clean a cloth couch, we also have an interactive, and very specific, stain removal guide that will help you clean smaller stains and other spots wherever and whenever they happen. We hope this guide to clean a fabric sofa comes in handy whenever messes, large or small, strike on the couch!
*Nonliving allergens including: Pollen, pet dander, and dust mite matter.