How to Clean a Suede Couch in Just 4 Steps, According to Cleaning Pros

published Jan 21, 2023
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Living room with rust-colored suede sofa, wood coffee table
Credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images

Suede couches, which are made from the underside of animal skin or a similar-feeling synthetic material, lend a soft, modern look to the living room. While suede is more durable than some fabrics, it’s essentially a less-durable form of leather, so the material can be difficult to maintain. Suede, for example, is less stain resistant than other materials, and it can easily collect dust and debris, making your couch look a whole lot grubbier than it actually is.

Following the right cleaning steps (and avoiding potentially problematic ones) can help keep your suede furniture looking great for years to come. Ahead, your step-by-step instructions for how to clean a suede couch, according to cleaning professionals.

What you’ll need:

  • Vacuum with soft brush attachment
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Suede stain remover
  • Distilled white vinegar (optional)
  • Water (optional)
  • White rubber eraser
  • Dry cloth or paper towel
  • Baking soda
  • Suede brush
  • Blow dryer

How to clean a suede couch 

Cleaning a suede couch is as much about preventing damage as it is removing existing debris. Avoid using chemicals on suede, as many can cause discoloration and damage to the fabric, says Vera Peterson, president of the residential cleaning business Molly Maid, a Neighborly company. Using too much moisture on suede can also cause damage, so avoid spraying water on your couch or using a rag that hasn’t been wrung out. 

Here’s how to clean your suede couch if it’s seen better days. 

Step 1: Vacuum the couch. 

The first step to cleaning any upholstery? Remove any large, visible dirt, dust, or debris. Steven Ip, president of the Boston-based cleaning company Cleanzen, recommends vacuuming the couch with your vacuum’s soft brush attachment. Don’t forget the crevices and underneath the cushions!

Step 2: Wipe the couch with a damp cloth. 

Get a microfiber cloth slightly wet, removing as much water as possible before using it. Then, wipe the entire surface of the couch to clean it. 

Step 3: Remove any stains.

If you notice any stains on your couch, it’s best to clean them right away (they’ll be easier to remove). How you clean the stain depends on what caused it. Jennifer Rodriguez, chief hygiene officer of PRO Housekeepers, recommends using a dedicated suede stain remover that won’t damage the material. If you want to make your own cleaner, you may opt for distilled white vinegar mixed with water and rub the area gently with a damp cloth. Either way, be sure to spot test on an inconspicuous area to avoid damaging the suede. 

For any particularly tough stains, such as ink or crayon, Peterson recommends gently rubbing with a white rubber eraser. (Avoid using a pink eraser, as it will leave a mark.) For an oil stain, she suggests blotting up as much of it as you can with a dry cloth or paper towel, then covering the area with baking soda. After a few hours, buff the area clean with a suede brush. 

If you spilled something on the couch, blot up as much of the liquid as possible. Then, use a suede-friendly stain remover, and let it sit for a few minutes before blotting it with a damp cloth. Lastly, use a blow dryer to dry the area you just cleaned. 

Step 4: Dry the couch. 

Whether or not you went to work on any stains, always be sure to leave your suede couch dry. Rodriguez recommends using a soft suede brush to help dry the material; you can also use a blow dryer on a cool or warm setting to speed along the process.