How to clean a velvet sofa

Velvet’s a gorgeous fabric, but it can also be tricky. Here’s your guide to velvet sofa cleaning.

Updated

black upholstery sofa

Key steps

Here’s what to bear in mind for velvet sofa cleaning.

  1. Vacuum the sofa weekly.
  2. Blot spills away quickly, starting from the edge.
  3. Use a soft brush to brush away dried-on or encrusted material.
  4. For more serious stains, check the type of velvet; most natural or semi-synthetic velvet types will need professional cleaning.
  5. If the material allows it, stains can be steam-cleaned, treated with dry cleaning solvent, or blotted with suds.
  6. When the velvet is clean and dry, smooth it in the direction of the pile using a soft brush.

There’s not much that’s more luxurious than lounging on a velvet sofa. Unfortunately, the effect of luxury is slightly diminished if your sofa’s covered in mud. Here’s a guide to velvet sofa cleaning.

If your velvet sofa has pressure marks, you can combat these by brushing with the grain, using a soft brush. A steam cleaner may also help with cleaning velvet couch pressure marks away, if your type of velvet is suitable for home cleaning.

How to clean a velvet sofa: regular maintenance

Even if your sofa isn’t visibly in need of cleaning, it’s worth giving it the occasional going-over with a vacuum cleaner.

  • Gentle weekly vacuuming with the brush attachment will help to keep your velvet sofa in good order.
  • This is particularly relevant if you have pets that like to lounge on it.

Considering the material when cleaning a velvet couch

If your sofa needs more serious cleaning work, the first question to ask is what it’s actually made of. There are different types of velvet.

Check your upholstery’s care label before cleaning. Take note of any specific cleaning instructions the label gives, and also of the material.

  • Silk, acetate, rayon or wool velvets are easily damaged by home cleaning efforts, so it’s best to call in a professional, or, if possible, to remove the velvet covering and send it for dry cleaning. 
  • Fully synthetic velvets, such as polyester velvet, are generally easier to clean at home.
  • Cotton velvet falls somewhere in between and should be approached with caution. You may be able to tackle small spills yourself. If in doubt, though, go for professional cleaning.

If your sofa’s made out of a particularly uncleanable velvet, you may want to use blankets or throws to protect it when people are drinking or eating in the room, reducing the risk of having to get it professionally cleaned.

How to clean a velvet sofa when dealing with spills and stains

If you’ve spilt anything on your velvet sofa, act fast. Even water can cause stains...

  • Use a clean tea towel to blot the spill away. 
  • Start blotting from the edges, rather than the middle, or you’ll just push the liquid further outwards. 
  • Press gently, and don’t rub, or you could pull and damage the fabric.
  • If the spillage is just water, you can try to dry it with a hairdryer after blotting. 
  • Don’t hold the hairdryer too close to the fabric, though. Keeping a 20cm distance should be fine.
  • If anything has become dried or encrusted onto the velvet, try to remove as much as you can with a soft brush.

You can also use a dry cleaning solvent to tackle stains, if the type of velvet allows home cleaning (see our advice on considering the material when cleaning a velvet couch above). Check and follow the solvent’s instructions, make sure the room is well ventilated, and test it on an inconspicuous corner of the material first. Blot the solvent onto the stain using a moist cloth, then let the solvent dry completely. Once it’s dried, use a soft brush to smooth the velvet back into shape.

How to clean a velvet sofa: wet cleaning

If your sofa is made of a velvet you can clean at home (see our advice on considering the material when cleaning a velvet couch above), you may be able to try wet cleaning. However, this isn’t recommended if you’re wondering how to clean crushed velvet sofa fabric because it can remove the crushed appearance. The best way to clean crushed velvet sofa fabric, if the above methods aren’t enough, is usually to get a professional involved.

For less delicate velvet suitable for wet cleaning, try these tips:

  • You can use a steam cleaner for gentle velvet sofa cleaning.
  • Don’t have access to a steam cleaner? Mix warm water and a couple of drops of clear washing-up liquid to create suds. 
  • Wipe the suds – not the water itself – onto a clean cloth, and carefully dab the stain away. 
  • Again, dry with a hairdryer held at least 20cm away if safe to do so. 
  • When the area is dry, the velvet may look a little ruffled, so gently brush it in the direction of the pile to restore its appearance.

When you’re attempting these methods for the first time, test them on an inconspicuous corner of your sofa first to make sure they won’t cause damage. Is your sofa not made of velvet but still needs cleaning? We have more general advice on how to clean a sofa.

Originally published