Sofas become like one of the family. They can support and comfort us for years if they are shown a little care and attention from time to time. Cleaning your sofa might seem a little daunting, but if you follow some simple guidelines, then it is remarkably easy.
A little cleaning can go a long way to keeping your sofa in pristine condition and extending its life. This guide is packed full of useful tips to help you do just that.
So, if your sofa is looking a little “crumby” after too many Netflix binges, then read on to find out how to get it back to looking its best.
Understanding Sofa Cleaning Codes
Before we discuss how to clean your sofa, it is important to make sure the cleaning method you use isn’t going to damage your sofa. Bearing this in mind, the first step is to find a cleaning solution that will work on your sofa without causing harm.
A great first step is to check the cleaning codes that are on the sofa. These will be on a label that is attached to an inconspicuous part of the sofa. Normally, it can be found on the back of cushions or on the fabric under the cushion. If you can’t find one or it has been removed, then check the manufacturer’s website where they should be listed.
Once you find the cleaning codes, you should see either a W, S, X, or W/S code. These denote which type of cleaner can be used.
A quick guide to sofa cleaning codes is listed below:
- W – This means that the sofa can only be cleaned using water-based cleaners. This includes mild detergents, carpet cleaners, many soaps, and specialist upholstery shampoos.
- S – This type of sofa can only be cleaned with solvent-based cleaning solutions such as rubbing alcohol and dry-cleaning solvents.
- W/S – This is sometimes listed as S/W but means the same thing. This type of sofa can be cleaned with either water or solvent-based cleaner.
- X – This type of sofa can only be cleaned using a brush or vacuum cleaner. Any stain removal or deep cleaning of this type of sofa should not be attempted by anyone other than a specialist cleaning company.
Remember – Even once you have established what type of cleaner can be used on your sofa, always test it on a small and inconspicuous part of your sofa first.
Basic Advice on Caring for and Cleaning your Sofa
Sofas are the centre point of our living rooms and lounges. They can also represent one of the larger furniture investments that people make. But quality sofas will last for years if looked after properly.
These simple steps will keep your sofa comfortable and binge-worthy for years to come.
Start with the debris
Lifting your cushions can throw up some unpleasant surprises. A winter’s worth of crisp, chocolate digestive, and popcorn crumbs will all have taken up home. Then there will be the assortment of paperclips, pens, coins, and long-missing earrings that inevitably gather under cushions.
Start by removing the cushions and thoroughly vacuuming them. Next, remove all the larger debris from the base of the sofa before giving this and the body of the sofa a good go over with the vacuum.
Last comes the fun part! It is time to get down and grimy and explore just what lurks in all those tight corners and cracks. One easy way to clean these awkward nooks is to use a narrow attachment on the vacuum and secure a pair of old tights over the end of the nozzle with an elastic band. This ensures that no larger objects like coins or paper clips get sucked up.
Once all the vacuuming and debris removal has been completed, obstinate pieces of lint or pet hairs can be removed using a lint roller.
Show your cushions some love
We ask a lot of our cushions, and they become like old friends, friends that have uncomplainingly supported us through all the excitement of the last series of Game of Thrones. Now, it is time to repay the favor and return some of that love!
It is only a case of giving them a little plump! Before you place the cushions back on the sofa, simply hold the cushion firmly by opposite sides and give them a good tight squeeze, you may have to repeat this several times for more neglected cushions.
It is also good practice to turn the cushions where possible. Although, if your sofa doesn’t have the same material on both sides, this may not be an option.
Dealing with spills
Inevitably, with thrills, there will also be spills. Whether it’s the kids watching cartoons, or adults engrossed in a late-night thriller, at some point your sofa is going to be subjected to a juice, wine, or mug of tea spillage.
The temptation is to give it a vigorous scrub, but this can do more harm than good. Instead, grab a bundle of clothes, clean rags, towels, or kitchen roll and get dabbing!
This minimises the area that the spill affects and keeps any staining from spreading.
Dealing with stains
If you have suffered a spillage, then the first thing to do is to deal with any staining as quickly as possible.
- Small and light stains – These can normally be removed with a little dishwashing liquid in warm water. Again, dab and don’t scrub, a little patience may be required but most light stains can be removed this way.
However, with any stain removal process, it is always recommended that you test the cleaning solution on a small and hidden part of your sofa first.
- The magic of baking soda – A little baking soda can work miracles on more stubborn stains. When dealing with particular stains or dirty areas, sprinkle it liberally over the affected area and leave for a few hours before vacuuming it off. The remaining stains can then be treated as described above or using a fabric cleaner but remember to test it on an inconspicuous area first!
Baking soda can also be used as an all-over “reviver”. Sprinkle it over the entire sofa and leave it for about twenty minutes before vacuuming. As well as freshening up the appearance of a sofa, this can also remove lingering pet and other odours.
- Salt – Salt is fantastic when used on fresh spills, including the dreaded red wine spill. Pile it liberally on top of the spill and allow it time to absorb the spilled liquid before scooping it off and treating any remaining stain with some gently dabbed soapy water. If necessary, the entire process can be repeated after this stage.
How to Deal with Different Types of Stain and Debris
The cleaning materials listed above are great for dealing with a multitude of stains. But some cleaners deal with different stain types better than others. Here is our guide on how to deal with common stains that can affect your sofa:
Remember – Always check the cleaning code and manufacturer’s instructions and test any cleaning solution on a small inconspicuous spot first.
- Wine Stains – Red wine stains are one of the most common types of stains. Vinegar and baking soda will work with many fabric and microfiber sofas. Liberally sprinkle the stain with the baking soda, then pour the vinegar on top. Wait a few minutes, and don’t worry if it starts to bubble – this is normal – then remove the mixture with a damp cloth.
The steps may have to be repeated a few times before the stain is completely removed.
- Cat Pee – Ah, you have to love our feline friends, even if they have had an accident on the sofa! But don’t panic, although it may smell like it is destined to be on your sofa forever – there is a solution.
Most fabric, microfiber, and many velvet couches can easily have the dreaded cat pee and smell removed. Start by blotting up as much of the cat pee as possible. Once this is done, mix two cups of warm or cold water with a tablespoon of vinegar and the same amount of dishwasher detergent.
Starting from the outside of the stain, work your way inwards, gently rubbing the area with a microfibre cloth dampened with the cleaning mixture. Once the stain is completely removed, then blot the area dry with another cloth.
This mixture also works well when dealing with Coffee Stains on your sofa.
- Dog and Cat Hair – Our beloved pets again, this time, it’s how to deal with the problem of pet hair on your sofa!
Unfortunately, pet hair tends to work its way into the fabric of a sofa, and this can mean that even vacuuming tends to leave plenty of stray hairs left behind. Lint rollers are a great solution, but one clever hack is to use rubber gloves!
Running a rubber-gloved hand over the sofa is a great way of removing those stubborn pet hairs. It works well when the gloves are dry, but on many materials, it works much better if they are slightly dampened.
- Mould Stains – With sofas that are rated S or W/S then rubbing alcohol is great for removing mold stains. For W-rated sofas, it is back to our old friend vinegar again. Again, it can be paired with baking soda, or a diluted solution can be applied directly to the stain and worked gently with a soft cloth.
With some sofas, it may be possible to use undiluted vinegar, but be cautious and check an inconspicuous area first.
- Ink Stains – With sofas that can handle solvent cleaners, then rubbing alcohol is a great option for ink stains. For sofas that need a water-based cleaner, then a mix of water, mild detergent, and a little vinegar can work wonders. Ink stains can be persistent, so it may have to be repeated a few times.
Cleaning Different Types of Sofa
Many of the above tips are general in nature and can be applied to any type of sofa. However, different materials require a different approach to keeping sofas looking like new. In this section, we provide the ultimate care guide for all types of sofas.
So, whether you prefer to relax on the plush luxury of a microfiber sofa or like to chill on a decadent leather sofa, you will find everything you need to know in the section that follows:
How to Clean Fabric Sofas
Much of the advice listed in the Basic Tips Section will apply to cleaning fabric sofas. This section takes a deeper into the specifics of caring for and cleaning fabric sofas. Remember to check the cleaning codes listed above before starting to clean your sofa, though.
Fabric sofas are the perfect type of sofa to use baking soda on (remember to spot-check an area first). Baking soda can be used dry or mixed with equal parts of water to make a paste.
For either method, let the baking soda sit on the area being treated for at least twenty minutes before removing it with a vacuum cleaner. It also works as a “general reviver” that revitalises fabric and removes odors.
Other shampoos, detergents, and soaps can be used if they comply with the cleaning code on the sofa. But remember to test an area first, particularly if you are unsure if the product meets the manufacturer’s criteria. It is always best to “dab clean” instead of rubbing your sofa, so slow and gentle is always the best technique to use. Check the section on the best cleaning products for sofas for details on some cleaning products.
If the cleaning process has left the sofa damp or wet, it can be dabbed dry with a soft towel and then left to air dry for a few hours.
Using an Upholstery Steam Cleaner
Finally, many fabric sofas can be cleaned using an upholstery steam cleaner. If your sofa is safe for steam cleaning, then this can be a fantastic method of reviving stale or stained upholstery. If you are going to use a steam cleaner, then always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and – you guessed it – test it on an inconspicuous area first.
How to Clean a Suede Sofa at Home
Suede sofas need some specific care and attention when cleaning them. The first thing to note is that most suede sofas will not take kindly to water-based cleaners. So, as always, check the cleaning code before trying any cleaning substance on your sofa. That being said, there are still some tips that can help you clean your suede sofa at home:
- Removing Wet Stains – Dealing with stains immediately is critical with suede sofas. Suede is a sensitive material and can be easily damaged or permanently stained, so time is of the essence.
Start by blotting up as much of the stain as possible and removing any residue with a soft and slightly damp cloth. If there is still staining, then use a cleaning product as recommended by the manufacturer to finish the job.
- Dry or Old Stains – A fantastic method of removing old stains from suede sofas is to rub them gently with a pencil eraser (there are also specialised erasers available).
Once the stain has been “rubbed off”, then the debris can be gently removed with a dry, soft brush.
- Keeping it Fresh! – Suede sofas look fantastic and can continue to wow for years if a little care & attention is spent on them. One sure way of keeping them looking at their very best is to brush the upholstery frequently with a soft suede brush.
This can be done to add the finishing touches to stain removal, but it is also a good idea to frequently brush suede sofas to keep them at their best. This is even more crucial if there are pets in the home.
How to Clean a Microfiber Sofa
Microfiber sofas look fantastic, but the material can quickly look tired and dirty if it isn’t cared for properly. One simple step that can help it look glorious for years is to clean it regularly.
The preliminary steps and precautions are the same as with other types of sofas, namely:
- Check the cleaning codes to see what types of cleaners can be used
- Deal with spills and stains as soon as possible
- Always test an inconspicuous area before beginning
Cleaning Microfiber Sofas with Water-Based Cleaners
If your microfiber sofa is rated as a W or W/S, then it is safe to use water and water-based cleaning solutions to clean your sofa. The steps for cleaning your microfiber sofa with a mild detergent are listed below:
- Start by vacuuming your sofa
- Make a mix of 10 parts water and one part detergent (dishwashing soap is perfect). You want to get plenty of soap suds, so this mix might need adjusting. You can use a whisk to make sure the mixture gets nice and foamy
- Using a medium firmness scrubbing brush or sponge apply the soap suds (not the water!) to the entire sofa (best done in stages). It is best to work from the top of the sofa downwards and also keep the brush or sponge from becoming saturated with water.
- As each section of the sofa is washed, wipe the residue off with a slightly dampened microfibre cloth. Allow the sofa to air dry once the task is complete.
- Finish with an upholstery brush or vacuum to fluff up any matted fibres.
Cleaning Microfiber Sofas with Solvent-Based Cleaners
If your sofa has an S designation, then water and water-based cleaners should be avoided. In this case, a cleaner like rubbing alcohol or other solvent-based cleaners should be used.
As with the water-based cleaning instructions, begin by thoroughly vacuuming your sofa. Once this is done, follow the steps below:
- If you are using rubbing alcohol, it is best applied using a bottle with a spray nozzle. Give the area to be cleaned a light spray with the alcohol. If using other solvent-based cleaners, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- With the fabric still damp with the cleaning solution, use a sponge, soft cloth, or soft-bristled brush to clean the microfiber. You can use plain water to clean the sponge or cloth as you go. However, always make sure you remove as much water as possible before continuing.
- Let the sofa air dry before finalising the cleaning with an upholstery brush or vacuum
How to Clean a Velvet Sofa
Velvet is a class of materials that can be manufactured in different ways and using different materials. As such, the way you tackle cleaning a velvet sofa is dependent on the material used in its manufacture.
Once again, the cleaning codes will let you know how to approach this. Many velvet sofas are delicate and will be rated as S for cleaning purposes. For these, the steps listed for solvent cleaning microfiber sofas can be applied.
Similarly, if the sofa is rated as W or W/S, follow the steps detailed under water-based cleaning for microfiber sofas.
It is also possible to use an upholstery steamer on sofas that use a “synthetic velvet” in their manufacture.
To keep your velvet sofa in prime condition, it is also recommended that you invest in a velvet brush. Regular use of this will keep the material free from crumbs and debris and keep it looking like new.
How to Clean a Leather Sofa
Leather sofas will benefit from having a spring clean to remove all the debris, as described above, but the material should be treated differently.
There are plenty of proprietary treatments geared towards treating sofas, and these work perfectly well. However, they are also complemented with a regular wipe-down with a very mild solution of washing-up liquid and lukewarm water. Always test an area first and thoroughly dry the sofa afterwards.
For those wanting to give their leather sofa a bit of DIY care and attention, then a mix of cleaning vinegar (or any other vinegar will work) and equal parts of a natural oil such as orange or flaxseed can be used to treat sofas.
Simply wipe the sofa with a cloth dampened with the mixture and leave for a few hours before wiping it clean with a soft, dry cloth.
It’s as simple as that! With a little care and attention, that super-comfy sofa can be part of family memories for years to come.
If you want to know more about sofa care or want to check out our massive range of superb quality sofas, why not contact us today or pop in and discuss your needs with our friendly and knowledgeable staff?