Everything You Need to About Cleaning Your Couch

Your family is probably spending more time than ever snuggled up on the couch, which means that it may need a little more TLC than normal these days. Keeping your sofa, which is often the epicenter of your living room, looking and smelling its best is an important household chore. What's more, it's actually a fairly easy process. To get the favorite part of your family room looking and feeling as good as new—all while maintaining that perfectly worn-in feel—three experts explain when it's time to give your couch a thorough cleaning and the best ways to get it done.

family playing on couch
family playing on couch

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How Often You Should Clean Your Couch?

Lift up a couch cushion and you'll be stunned by how many crumbs, clumps of pet hair, and remnants of dirt are underneath it, says Leanne Stapf, COO of The Cleaning Authority. "These [things] are also scattered along the exterior of your cushions, so to keep your couches clean, vacuum bi-weekly and rotate your cushions." If you stay on top of this regular maintenance cleaning, Stapf says you should only need to do a deep clean about once a year.

How Can You Tell If Your Couch Needs Extra Care?

Cindee Black, co-founder and CEO of Black and Berry Living, says you'll be able to tell visually, by touch, and by scent when it's time to clean your couch, especially when there's been an accident or spill. "If you see a stain find a good stain cleaner and two absorbent towels," she says. "If you found the stain while [it's] still wet, blot up as much of the stain as possible then proceed with a pre-tested stain cleaner." You should always test your stain remover on a portion of the couch that isn't easily viewable, in case it damages the couch's upholstery. Black suggests using an unseen portion of the back or underside of your couch for testing. "After generously spraying the visible stain, blot with the second clean towel and repeat until the stain is gone."

Understanding Your Couch's Care Instructions

Of course, you don't want to risk ruining your couch when you're cleaning it, so it's important to understand what the care instructions on your upholstery tags actually mean. Stapf breaks down some common upholstery designations: A "W" code means the upholstery should only be cleaned with a water-based cleaner. A type of couch with this code is usually the most durable and easiest to clean. An "S" code stands for dry clean solvent only and will not react well to water. If you need to spot treat for a stain, there are dry-clean only products available, but Stapf recommends getting it professionally cleaned. And "S/W" as you may have guessed, allows for the use of both water-based cleaners and dry-cleaning solvents.

Know When to Call in the Professionals

Couches are expensive, and sometimes they need (and deserve) more care and attention than you can give them at home. When this happens, you need to call in the pros. "Hiring an IICRC [Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification] Certified Professional company that can safely and thoroughly clean your furniture is another way to ensure your investment stays looking its best," according to Gentian Mazreku, owner of G's Carpet Cleaning. "A professional cleaning company will inspect, pretreat, wash, and perform all necessary care needed to properly clean your couch." Mazreku, whose company handles upholstery cleaning, adds that depending on the fabric and finish, certain cleaning methods are needed to safely clean without ruining or altering your couch's fabric appearance that only professionals have access to.