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How To Clean Different Kinds of Couches

Jul 29th, 2022

Got a sofa that’s getting grimey? Got a couch that’s looking duller than it did when you bought it seven years ago? Are pets contributing to a collection of cushion stains?

Looking after sofas and couches doesn’t have to be hard! In most cases, you can unzip the cushions and pop the fabric in the wash, but in others you might need to add a little extra love and care.

Here’s how to clean a variety of popular couch and sofa materials so that your living room furniture looks as new as the day you got it!

Easily cleaning furniture upholstery at home

Leather – faux

Faux leather couches are easy to care for and quick to clean.

Start by vacuuming all over the couch — including any crevasses and spaces between cushions — using the tube attachment on a vacuum. Aim to get as much dust and dirt off the couch as possible, as bits of debris can rub into the fabric over time and damage the material.

Next, make a mixture of dish soap and warm water using about 2 tablespoons of dish soap per gallon of water. Any chemicals stronger than dish soap could break down the faux leather material on your couch, so this simple mixture will work great. 

Use a damp cloth soaked in the soapy mixture to wipe down the faux leather and remove all the dirt and dust. Use another damp cloth soaked in plain water to wipe and rinse the couch, then wipe again with a dry cloth to dry. 

Easy peasy!

Leather – genuine

Leather couches and sofas are not too difficult to care for. In fact, it’s easier to clean a genuine leather fabric than it is to clean a velvet, silk or synthetic couch! The key is to use the right cleaning products.

You’ll want to make sure the upholstery is free of any dust or debris first, so give it a thorough vacuum beforehand. Then, wipe down the leather with a slightly damp rag — it's best to use filtered water or distilled water so that any chemicals or minerals from tap water don't interact with the leather. Ensure the material isn’t too wet, and allow it to dry thoroughly before using the couch again.

This process will keep your sofa clean for around two to four weeks, depending on the wear and tear it receives. If you want to add a conditioning product to the leather, then using a product like Leather Honey will keep the fibers soft and hydrated for up to six months at a time!


Linen is an extremely porous material that is best washed by dry-cleaners, but it’s still possible to wash linen material at home. 

Firstly, be sure to vacuum your linen sofa thoroughly every week. Because linen is made from woven threads, dust and dirt can make their way into the weave and tear or ruin the fabric, so a good vacuum will keep the fabric strong and clear.

If you get a stain on your fabric, the very last thing you want to do is rub it in! Use a damp cloth to soak up and draw the stain out, then toss the linen covers into the washing machine on a gentle, cold-water spin cycle. Hang dry the coverings until almost dry, then place the fabric back on the sofa and cushions so that they can mold to their shape as they finish drying. 


Microfiber material is soft, cozy and what most fluffy and softer sofas are covered in. These fabrics are pretty durable, for sure, but microfiber blends come in many different combinations of synthetic materials. This means your cleaning approach should differ, too.

The easiest way to determine what cleaning method to use, check the good old laundry label that comes attached to the seam. There will be one of four codes on this label that will tell you how to wash that specific fabric.

  • W: Use a water-based cleaner only
  • S: Use a dry-cleaning solvent only
  • S-W: Use either a water-based cleaner or dry-cleaning solvent
  • X: Do not use water or a solvent


When we talk about synthetic upholstery, we are usually referencing couches made with material like acrylic, nylon, olefin and polyester. 

There’s a wide range of material types in this category, so first check the label on your sofa to determine what exactly is in the fabric.

Most of the time, though, you can start with some warm water mixed with a bit of dish soap. Test the cleaning solution on a small, hidden spot first to see if the mixture is safe to use, then go ahead and use that to pull out any stains or dirt. Make sure to dry thoroughly and, if you need something more heavy-duty, use a finisher that is specific to your sofa’s synthetic material


You aren’t likely to encounter too many pure velvet couches and sofas these days, but if you do, then you’ll want to know these tips for keeping it clean!

Since velvet is a delicate material, cleaning and caring for it requires delicate care. Start by vacuuming the sofa with the soft brush attachment — using the hard plastic tube might leave scratches on the velvet or pull on the fabric too much. 

Velvet also gets a crushed, flattened look over time with use, so use a steamer against the grain to get rid of any compressed areas or scratches. When it comes to stains, blot the dirty area with water until it’s no longer wet with whatever was staining it, then take a bit of soapy water and blot again until the soap has pulled the stain out.  


Wool couches and sofas don’t take too much work to clean, as long as you’re diligent about vacuuming every week or so. Dust and debris can burrow their way into the weave of this absorbent fabric, which can not only dull the color but can make the fabric feel rough and scratchy.

If you do want to wash the fabric, then place the fabric in a washing machine with the fabric turned inside-out. Find a water-based detergent that’s safe for wools and wash on a gentle, cold water cycle. Hang to dry and voila! You’ve got a clean wool couch!

Here’s to clean couches and sparkling sofas!

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Featured photo courtesy Pixabay/ErikaWittlieb

Author of Article

Colleen Ford is a South African who now lives in Spokane, Washington. She loves to travel, camp (in warm weather) and bake.

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