How to Deep Clean a Couch

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How to Deep Clean a Couch

Your couch is likely to be a much-used feature within your home. Often, our couches become the social hubs on which we host guests, relax after a long day of work, or take a Sunday afternoon nap. However you use your couch, they can quickly become breeding grounds for bacteria if they’re not properly cleaned and maintained.

Pet hair, food crumbs, dust particles, and general dirt and grime can quickly accumulate on the cushions and in the many cracks and crevices of your couch. Your couch might look clean on the surface, but who’s to say what is lingering in its hidden folds or beneath the cushions. This is why it is beneficial to know how to deep clean a couch.

But don’t panic just yet! Deep cleaning your couch is actually a pretty straightforward task and can be super rewarding once it is done. We are going to show you the most efficient and effective ways of deep cleaning your couch, without the need for any harsh chemical cleaning agents.

We will talk you through the step-by-step process that will leave you with a sanitized, deodorized, sparkling clean couch, ready for you and your loved ones to enjoy once again.

Related: Clean a Messy House Checklist

Understanding Your Couch’s Care Label

Before going through our How to Deep Clean a Couch checklist, you need to check the couch manufacturer’s care label. This can usually be found beneath the sofa cushions or on the back panel of the couch.

The care label will tell you how you should go about cleaning your couch to avoid any damage to the fabric upholstery. Generally, you will find a cleaning code, which tells you what kind of cleaning products can be used on the couch. The cleaning code should include one of the following options:

W – This means your couch can be wet cleaned using water-based detergents.

S – Fabrics with this code are dry clean only, so only water-free solvents or dry cleaning products should be used here.

WS – This code means a combination of the previous methods can be used.

X – Finally, this code tells us that vacuuming and dry brushing can be used on the couch, but no water or solvent cleaners should be used.

Once you have checked your care label, you should be able to identify the best way of deep cleaning your couch without damaging the fabric.

The cleaning methods we have listed below are super gentle, don’t use any harsh chemicals, and can be used on most fabric or leather couches, but it is always best to check your label regardless and carry out a spot test of each cleaning product in a less visible place before continuing with the deep clean. 

Related: How to Clean Walls Without Harsh Chemicals

How to Deep Clean A Couch

There are a few different steps you will need to take to thoroughly deep clean your couch. This means removing any surface-level dust or dirt particles, tackling any stubborn stains, marks, or patches of discoloration, and sanitizing and deodorizing the entire couch.

Remove Surface Level Dirt

Start by removing any loose dirt particles, lint buildup, or dust and debris from the entire couch. The easiest way of doing this is by using a good-quality lift-away vacuum cleaner. The Shark Navigator is super effective, convenient, and user-friendly:

Shark NV356E S2 Navigator Lift-Away Professional Upright Vacuum
  • Powerful, lightweight upright vacuum with lift-away capability to clean hard to reach places
  • Traps 99.9% of allergens and dust with a HEPA filter and anti-allergen complete seal
  • Shutoff for brush roll for gentle cleaning of non-carpet flooring
  • Includes a pet power brush, crevice tool, and 5-foot hose

With an additional pet-power brush attachment and specialized crevice tool, this vacuum is great for getting into the hard-to-reach spots on your couch. It is super powerful and traps 99.9% of dust particles and allergens. The canister lifts away easily and is lightweight and highly maneuverable.

Be sure to vacuum the entire surface of the couch, including the base, cushions, arms, and any cracks and crevices. If you find that some of the dirt or pet hair is not vacuuming up easily, it might be worth going in with a dry scrub brush to loosen any debris and unthread embedded pet hairs. After dry brushing, go back in with your vacuum to remove the loosened dirt.

Disinfect and Deodorize

In the next step of How to Deep Clean a Couch, you’ll want to disinfect the couch and remove any unpleasant odors or surface-level marks.

To do this, you’ll need a good quality, gentle detergent or liquid soap that will cut through grease, grime, and dirt without damaging the fibers of the upholstery. As we said earlier, any detergents or cleaning agents you use should be patch tested first and will need to comply with your couch’s care label.

This Liquid Castile Soap from Dr. Bronner’s is an excellent all-natural cleaning agent that is free from any synthetic preservatives, detergents, or foaming agents:

Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap – Almond Bundle. 32 oz. Bottle and 2 oz. Travel Bottle Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap

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It is extremely gentle and is great for use all over the home. The super-concentrated formula and its multitude of purposes also make it highly cost-effective. The soap is unscented but you can always add your own choice of essential oils if you would like to add a light fragrance.

To clean your couch using a liquid soap or detergent, simply dilute with water in a clean spray bottle, spritz over the entire couch, and then go in with a clean microfiber cloth and work the solution into the fabric.

For more stubborn stains, spray the cleaning solution over the affected area and then use your dry brush to scrub the stain. Opt for a brush with natural fiber bristles that aren’t too stiff to avoid scratching or damaging the surface of the fabric.

To deodorize your couch, sprinkle baking soda over the fabric and then allow this to sit for up to 8 hours (in most cases, one hour should be plenty of time to neutralize odors) – then go in with your vacuum cleaner and remove all of the baking soda.

ImageProductOur RatingPrice
Top Choice
Shark NV356E S2 Navigator Lift-Away Professional Upright Vacuum
Shark NV356E S2 Navigator Lift-Away Professional Upright Vacuum
  • Large dust cup capacity with lift away functionality to easily clean hard to reach areas
  • Anti-allergen complete seal technology plus a HEPA filter that traps 99.9 percent of dust and allergens
  • Powerful and lightweight, brush roll shutoff, deep carpet, and gentle bare floor cleaning
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BISSELL 2252 CleanView Swivel Upright Bagless VacuumBISSELL 2252 CleanView Swivel Upright Bagless Vacuum
  • Powerful pet hair pick up with triple action brush roll with scatter free technology
  • Swivel steering to easily maneuver around furniture and other obstacles
  • Clean edges and corners with edge-to-edge cleaning 
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Best Value
eureka NEU182A PowerSpeed Bagless Upright Vacuum
eureka NEU182A PowerSpeed Bagless Upright Vacuum
  • Powerful vacuum cleaner with 5 height adjustments and XL dust cup
  • Smooth wheels ensure hardwood floors won’t sustain scratches or gouges
  • Multiple accessories are included to extract dirt, pet hair, freshen up your car, curtains, ceilings, or door frames
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Baking soda is a great natural deodorizer and has anti-bacterial properties. It is completely toxin-free and can be found at Amazon and in most grocery stores. Because it is so gentle and natural, it is safe for use on most fabrics. Just be careful not to over-saturate the couch, as vacuuming excessive amounts of baking soda may cause damage to your vacuum cleaner.

Clean Removable Couch Covers

The easiest way of cleaning removable couch covers is by spot cleaning any stains using the same method used on the rest of the couch, and then machine washing.

If your couch covers are suitable for machine washing, use a gentle laundry detergent or make your own DIY detergent using equal parts white vinegar, distilled water, and a couple of drops of your chosen essential oils. Wash in accordance with the guidelines laid out on the care label and air dry if possible to prevent shrinking or damage to the fabric fibers.

Seventh Generation Concentrated Laundry Detergent, Free & Clear Unscented, 40 Oz, Pack of 2 (106 Loads) Seventh Generation Concentrated Laundry Detergent, Free & Clear Unscented

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If your cushion covers cannot be machine washed, use the same method listed above using Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Soap and a microfiber cloth or dry brush to remove stains or marks.

Drying Your Couch

Once your couch has been deep cleaned, it is extremely important that it is able to dry out as quickly as possible.

If your couch is left damp for an extended period of time, you’re likely to see some growth of bacteria, mold, and mildew – undoing all of your hard work.

Firstly, never over-saturate the couch while cleaning. Use any liquids sparingly and try to mop up as much moisture as possible using your microfiber cloth or clean towels.

E-Cloth General Purpose Microfiber Cleaning Cloth, 300 Wash Guarantee, Assorted Colors, 4 Pack E-Cloth General Purpose Microfiber Cleaning Cloth

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Secondly, allow plenty of airflow to pass through the space during and after the deep clean. This will help the couch to dry out more efficiently and prevent any unpleasant odors. It might also be a good idea to make use of any space heaters, air conditioning, fans, or dehumidifiers you have in your home to speed up the process.

Always make sure your couch is thoroughly dried before resuming use to prevent lasting damage and re-growth of bacteria.

Other Couch Cleaning Options

Steam cleaning is also a good way of deep cleaning your couch. This will kill any bacteria and draw out dirt and dust particles effectively. However, steam cleaners can be expensive to purchase or hire and you are in danger of over-saturating the couch if the steam cleaner is not used properly or doesn’t have an appropriate setting.

BISSELL Little Green Multi-Purpose Portable Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner, 1400B BISSELL Little Green Multi-Purpose Portable Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner

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Alternatively, if your couch is dry clean only or you find that after carrying out a patch test, even the gentlest of detergents cause damage or discoloration to the fabric, you may need to call in a professional to carry out the deep clean. Couches are a significant investment in many cases, so if you are concerned about causing lasting damage, it is always best to seek help or advice from a professional.

Maintaining Your Clean Couch

Now that you know how to deep clean a couch and have completed the task, there are a few things you can do to keep it this way and save yourself time in the future:

  • Clean any spills or marks up straight away to prevent them from seeping further into the fabric and causing stubborn stains.
  • Regularly deodorize and sanitize the couch using baking soda or your chosen liquid soap or detergent.
  • Avoid wearing outdoor clothing such as shoes or coats while sitting on your couch to prevent external bacteria, bugs, and mites from being transferred onto the couch.
ImageProductOur RatingPrice
Top Choice
Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent
Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent
  • Powerful triple-enzyme formula fights tough stains
  • Free & clear, hypoallergenic laundry detergent made for sensitive skin
  • Safer ingredients for human health and the environment
  • EPA safer choice certified
  • USDA certified bio based product 96% made with plant-based ingredients
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Method Liquid Laundry Detergent
Method Liquid Laundry Detergent
  • Featuring plant-based stain lifting power
  • For high efficiency and standard washers
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  • Cruelty free. Tested by people, not on animals
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Planet 2x HE Ultra Laundry Liquid DetergentPlanet 2x HE Ultra Laundry Liquid Detergent
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  • Free & Clear formula - no added fragrances, dyes or synthetic preservatives
  • Certified 100% biodegradable; ingredients from plant-based sources
  • Not tested on animals
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Final Thoughts on How to Deep Clean a Couch

Deep cleaning your couch can be an extremely rewarding task and may completely transform the whole look and feel of your living space. Couches are integral parts of our homes, so keeping yours looking, feeling, and smelling fresh and clean is super important.

Always refer to your care label and use the tips and methods listed in this article on how to deep clean a couch to keep your couch clean at all times.