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How to clean a sofa

Everything you need to know about how to clean a sofa, whatever material it’s made from.

Key Steps:

  • Vacuum your sofa regularly to prevent dust and dirt from building up.
  • Do not oversaturate the material. This is especially important when cleaning leather sofas.
  • If your sofa covers aren’t removable, you can use a steam cleaner to get them fresh again.

Just be sure to consult the manufacturer’s manual to check this is a suitable method for the type of fabric your sofa’s made out of.

How to Clean a Sofa: Start by Vacuuming

Remove all the cushions and clear away anything, pens, coins, remote controls, that might have fallen down between them. Now use your vacuum to clear away any dust and surface dirt from your sofa. Use the soft brush attachment to be as gentle possible on your sofa’s upholstery, but don’t be afraid to get right inside those crevices.

Read the Care Tags for your Sofa

Most sofas come with a care tag or certificate that provides instructions on cleaning. Read these closely, as they will advise on the right kinds of products to buy and the right method to use. If your sofa has removable covers, you may even be able to zip them off and either machine-wash or dry-clean them.

How to Clean a Fabric Sofa: Spot Cleaning Stains

If you simply want to remove a stain from your fabric sofa, you may not need to do a thorough cleaning. First try treating it with a mild solution of warm water and dishwashing liquid. Make sure to test it on an inconspicuous part of the sofa first to prevent damage to the fabric. Apply the product gently with a clean, damp cloth – do not get the sofa too wet, and do not rub the stain as this may make it more difficult to remove. Rinse the area by using another clean, damp cloth, and then let it air dry.

A sprinkle of baking soda will keep your sofa smelling fresh — just remember to dust the powder away afterwards.

Tips on How to Clean a Fabric Sofa

If your fabric sofa doesn’t have removable covers, there are several methods for a deeper clean — just be sure to follow your sofa’s care instructions first. Upholstery cleaning products are available – if you use these, be sure to follow the directions on the label and test them in a small area first. In some instances, you can hire a steam cleaner to deep-clean your sofa and its cushions; make sure to let everything dry fully before you put the cushions back on the sofa.

Best Way to Clean a Leather Sofa

Cleaning leather sofa covers is a very different matter from cleaning fabric sofa components, as leather can be damaged by too much water or soap. But it’s still a simple task to accomplish. Start by gently vacuuming any dust from the leather sofa and its crevices. If there is any mould or mildew on the leather, spray a mild solution of vinegar and water onto this, and quickly wipe the mould or mildew away.

Using specialist leather products is the most important step in cleaning leather sofa covers. Saddle soap or wax-based leather cleaners won’t damage your sofa. Make sure to spot-test the cleaner first in an inconspicuous place, and read the directions on the label before starting. Once you’ve applied the cleaner, wipe away any excess. A good tip to remember when cleaning leather is: “less product gets more done”.

These five simple tips will make it easy to clean your sofa, regardless of its material. With the occasional clean, this very important piece of furniture will stay fresh and welcoming for your family and guests.

Top Tip


When cleaning a sofa, it’s important to read the directions in the manufacturer’s manual or on the care labels first for important advice and guidelines.