Thinking About a New Sofa? Try This $0 Item First

published Nov 10, 2020
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Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Have you ever just felt done with a certain piece of furniture? Maybe the color feels all wrong, the cushions seem lumpy, or the style isn’t something you think you’d ever pick in the here and now.

It’s a feeling I’m no stranger to—especially when it comes to the armchairs in our living room. They were passed on to us by family friends when we got married. Well-made, comfortable, and, most importantly, a big part of the only furniture we owned. But after a while, I simply couldn’t deal with the original cream upholstery any more, so I reupholstered them with dreams of one day swapping them out for something I really wanted.

Fast forward a few years, and that feeling of wanting something shiny and new started to creep back. But after trying out several chairs and not liking their size or shape, I gave up and decided to do something about the thing that was really bothering me about the chairs—their filth.

I busted out my upholstery cleaner and spent the better part of a morning washing the chair’s cushions, seat, back, sides… everywhere. The difference was astounding. Finally, I could see these chairs for what they really are: the Goldilocks size and shape for our space. And the best part? I didn’t spend even a single penny.

If you have a piece of upholstered furniture whose fate is in question, here’s how to give it a thorough clean before you splurge on something new:

1. Take all the pillows off and cushions off

Vacuum extremely thoroughly. Read: slowly and in every crease and corner.

2. De-pill

This may take time, but it’s worth it. Use a sweater shaver and watch your upholstery come back to life section by section.

3. Spot treat stains

Address any stubborn stains. Folex is a miracle-worker.

4. Clean the upholstery

Do it yourself with a portable upholstery cleaner or hire a professional.

Once your sofa is clean, you can impart a whole new feeling with pillows that pop or tonal ones that add texture. When all is said and done, who knows: You might like your couch a bit better than you did before. What’s more, you’ll save yourself a good deal of cash and feel a great sense of accomplishment.

Or, you might find out that, yep, you hate the couch as much as you thought you did. If this happens, all is not lost. If you sell your old one, you’ll likely be able to pull in a good deal more now than if you hadn’t given it the attention you did.