How To Clean a Sofa

How To Clean a Sofa

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Ashley Poskin
Aug 9, 2015
(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

You see your sofa every day, but when was the last time you really looked at it? Dust, pet hair, popcorn kernels and other debris find their way down through the cracks, waiting to shame you the next time a friend drops their keys down the cushions. Make a few extra pennies and avoid that awkward apology by vacuuming your sofa on the regular.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

A good rule of thumb is to run the upholstery attachment over the outside of your sofa ever time you do the floors, and vacuum the entire sofa (outside, inside, back, and sides) every three months for sofas that see moderate use. If yours is the focal point of your home and gets a lot of action, plan to remove the cushions and vacuum the interior more frequently, like once a month.

If you have a sofa cover, this is also a good opportunity to stretch it back in place so it looks neat and clean.

What You Need

Tools

  • Vacuum
  • Upholstery attachments
  • Crevice attachment

Instructions

1. Remove all seat cushions and set them aside on a clean surface. Avoid throwing them on the floor so they won't attract more dirt.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

2. Pick up any large debris that has gathered along the inside of the sofa and discard (or place in your piggy bank!).

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

3. Vacuum along the inside corners where the inner sides meet the seat bottoms using the crevice attachment attachment. Press firmly onto the surface to create as much suction power as possible.

If you're cleaning a slip cover, pop the fabric out from in-between the back and sides of the sofa to vacuum. Take a minute to re-position the cover before pushing the excess back in.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

4. Switch out the crevice tool for the the upholstery attachment (you might need to add the brush if you've accumulated a large amount of dirt/debris) and vacuum the sides, back, and area under the seat cushions, working in a grid pattern.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

5. Next, vacuum the seat cushions. Working in a grid pattern, clean all sides including the top and bottom of the cushion. If you come across any spots, a dry brush can help loosen dirt before you vacuum with your upholstery attachment.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

6. Don't forget to vacuum the pillows! Work in a grid pattern with the upholstery attachment, being cautious around embellishments and fabric trims.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Before placing your cushions and pillows back on the sofa, give them a good fluffing. Over time, they can start to sag and develop a certain...groove (not the funky kind) so it's important to get them back in shape.

For down pillows and cushions: Push in on the sides like you would an accordion. You are essentially pushing air into the pillow, so the feathers will evenly distribute. Repeat this step four or five times, turning the pillow over several times.

For foam pillows and cushions: This task can be a bit more difficult than down, because after time the foam inside your cushions literally starts to break down and crumble and cannot be fluffed back up. A quick fix for a sofa that doesn't get a lot of action would be to remove the foam from the seat covers and wrap it with Poly-fil (We found a fantastic tutorial here). The filler is much thinner than foam and probably won't stay looking good for a long time if used frequently, but would certainly help out a sad looking sofa in a low traffic area.

As a long term solution, we recommend taking the cushions to an upholsterer and having them measured for new foam. It's not an inexpensive solution, but will extend the life of your sofa and cost less than buying a new one!

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

7. Wipe down any hard surfaces and polish wood. While you're down there, take the opportunity to check the legs to make sure they are in good condition. If you have wood floors, check under the legs to make sure they aren't damaging your floors. Replace felt pads or screws that may have come loose.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

8. Finish up by sweeping the area around your sofa, then work your way into the rest of the room. You'd be surprised how far that debris can fly!

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