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Top tips on how to clean a sofa

We’ve put together a quick and easy guide for how to clean a sofa, whether it’s fabric or leather.


how to clean a sofa

Key steps

  • Use a vacuum to clean up dirt, crumbs and dust.

  • Consider using a soapy water mix with a mild, moisturizing soap such as Dove.

  • Always test any cleaning products or stain treatments on an inconspicuous spot first.

  • Don’t forget to condition your leather sofa to prolong its life.

It's something we sit on every day, relax on, and even eat meals from – but how often do we clean our sofa? Here’s our step-by-step process for how to clean a sofa including those made of fabric and leather. Once you know how to clean the sofa, check out our living room cleaning checklist to help you keep the whole room in great condition.

Why not try soapy water? A mild, moisturizing soap like is a great choice for both fabric and leather sofa cleaning and is unlikely to cause stains or damage.

How to clean fabric sofas: a step-by-step guide

Below you’ll find our simple top tips for cleaning fabric sofa sets.

1. Always treat stains immediately.  

  • Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for your sofa.

  • Always test any stain-removal product on an inconspicuous spot first.

  • A homemade alternative to commercial stain removers is a solution made of a teaspoon of washing-up liquid, white vinegar, baking soda and warm water.

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2. Use a soft brush to loosen any crumbs, dirt and dust from your sofa.

3. Use your vacuum hose or a handheld vacuum to clean away the loosened crumbs, dirt and dust.

4. If you’ve noticed unpleasant odors coming from your sofa:

  • Sprinkle the entire surface with baking soda.

  • Allow it to sit for 15 minutes.

  • Vacuum it up using the brush attachment.

5. Next, it’s time to clean your sofa. Here are a couple of options:

  • Use a steam cleaner.

  • Use a mild soap such as Dove mixed with water.

6. If using soapy water, dip a soft brush into the mix and scrub the surface of your sofa gently until you have cleaned every nook and cranny.

7. Always take care to avoid saturating your sofa when cleaning.

8. After cleaning use a soft, clean towel to soak up excess moisture, then allow to air-dry overnight.

How to clean your leather sofa: 10 easy steps to follow

With this simple guide, we’ll show you how to clean sofa sets made of leather.

1. Vacuum up any dirt, crumbs or dust using the brush attachment.

2. Test whichever cleaning product you choose on an inconspicuous spot first.

3. If you opt for using a specialized leather cleaner, always follow the instructions on the label.

4. If you want to make your own cleaner, mix equal parts water and white vinegar.

5. Alternatively, use a moisturizing soap such as Dove mixed with water.

6. Dip a soft, microfiber cloth into your chosen cleaning solution.

7. Use your damp cloth to wipe down the surface of your sofa. Always start at the top, and clean from top to bottom.

8. For removing stains on your leather sofa:

  • Always treat stains as soon as possible.

  • Use hairspray for permanent marker and other ink stains.

  • Use non-acetone nail polish remover or non-gel toothpaste.

  • Use equal parts rubbing alcohol and water for mould or mildew.

  • Use equal parts lemon juice and cream of tartar for dark stains.

  • Don’t forget to wipe the surface down with a damp sponge to remove all traces of product once you’ve treated the stains.

9. Dry your sofa with a clean towel. Avoid using a hairdryer as it may dehydrate the leather.

10. After cleaning, condition your leather to keep it in good shape:

  • Use a commercial leather conditioner.

  • Or, mix one-part white vinegar and two-parts linseed oil.

  • Apply your conditioner using a soft, clean cloth in circular motions.

  • Leave it to soak overnight.

  • Buff the surface with a clean cloth after the conditioner has soaked in.

With this super simple guide on how to clean a sofa set, you now have all the tips and tricks you need.

Do you want to learn which household cleaning tasks cause the most stress?  Then read our Heated Household data analysis. 

Originally published