Knowing how to clean a sofa the right way can extend the life of your furniture. Ground in dirt and stains not only make your sofa look shabby but it may develop odors as well. Learn how to clean a sofa, whether it’s a leather or fabric sofa, we’ve got plenty of tips and techniques below.
Tools to Clean Sofas
In order to appreciate how to clean a sofa, it’s important to appreciate the power of the common vacuum cleaner. However, there is a bit more than meets the eye in regards to which type of vacuum is the most appropriate.
In theory, the best type of vacuum to clean a sofa should be lightweight and versatile so that it offers a wider physical range of motion.
Those that fall under this category include:
- Corded or cordless handheld vacuum cleaners that usually include a few different attachments. There are many different types of handheld vacuums, some of which are designed for specific types of cleaning such as cleaning pet hair or inside vehicles.
- Stick vacuums which are lighter and slimmer versions of upright vacs. These will often have an integrated handheld vacuum which can be detached from the main unit.
It’s important to employ a vacuum equipped with the correct attachments. Some of the most relevant include:
- A motorised brush roll for a more efficient pick up of hair and dirt
- A stretch hose and crevice tool for accessing tight spots and crevices
- An upholstery brush for removing dirt from the surface
Different types of vacuums will allow the user to either attach accessories or may already have the tools integrated. In other words, understanding how to clean a sofa should always embrace the notion of modularity.
The Power of Steam Cleaning
Steam cleaning is associated with many benefits and one of the most important is the ability to remove deep-down stains while simultaneously eliminating potentially dangerous germs.
This is the very same reason why hospitals often employ steam cleaning methods (known as an autoclave) to treat sensitive instruments. However, these very same benefits can be enjoyed within the home.
There are numerous steam cleaning systems and yet, they all tend to espouse the same principle.
- Water is heated to a certain temperature (generally just below the boiling point).
- This water is then mixed with a cleaning fluid with a type of antibacterial or antiseptic soap.
- The steam will be emitted from a hand-held receptacle
- …and an included suction mechanism draws the used steam (and water) away while pumping more fluid into the head of the unit; creating a feedback effect.
This is the primary reason why steam is frequently used with sofas, upholstery and similar fabrics which require a thorough cleaning.
Choosing to Utilise a Bristle Brush
Although bristle brushes may require a bit more manual labour when compared to steam cleaning and the standard vacuum, the benefits cannot be overstated.
One interesting advantage of a bristle brush is that it allows the user to have complete control over the cleaning process itself.
Why is this important?
Cleaning delicate materials such as suede can be challenging; particularly if the fabric is old. A bristle brush provides you with complete control in terms of pressure as well as directional movement.
While a bit of excess “elbow grease” is required, the fact of the matter is that dealing with delicate materials will often require a bristle brush.
Modern designs contain a certain amount of soap. Once the brush is filled with warm water, the process can immediately begin and the fabric is generally allowed to air dry.
Traditional Cloth Methods
There can be instances when the aforementioned methods are not sufficient in order to remove a stubborn stain. This is when the use of a cloth could come in handy. As opposed to normal fabrics, this type of cloth is known as a microfibre cloth.
It has been constructed in such a fashion as to maximise absorbency while simultaneously minimising the impact that it will have upon potentially sensitive fabrics.
You won’t wipe the cloth back and forth, but rather utilise it to blot a stain once it has been wetted or treated with a cleaning agent.
Blotting will prevent a discolouration (such as a wine stain) from spreading and in the majority of cases, the porosity of the cloth will literally “pull” the stain out of the sofa.
The Simplicity of Paper Towels
To be clear, paper towels tend to serve the same function as the microfibre fabric mentioned above. They are not meant to be employed when a stain has been allowed to set into the fabric or when a sofa has become very dirty.
Paper towels are generally used immediately after a fabric has become sullied. Other techniques will thereafter be utilised in order to make certain that the stain does not sit.
It should be noted that the type of paper towel is pivotal in terms of efficacy. Cheaper brands should not be used, as they will leave fibres upon the fabric of the sofa. These fibres will then need to be removed.
So, always choose a high-quality paper towel; generally those used in the kitchen and that are constructed from two separate layers.
How to Clean a Leather Sofa
While it is always wise to know how to restore fabric furniture, appreciating how to clean a leather sofa is an entirely different matter. Leather is a sensitive material and there are some discrete techniques which should always be adopted.
To prepare for cleaning a leather sofa, here are some tips:
- First and foremost, the cleaning material itself should be soft so that it does not damage the surface of the leather.
- Make sure all traces of dust are removed before using any cleaning liquids. Particles of dirt or dust are abrasive when mixed with water and will scratch your sofa.
- For a deeper clean use a leather cleaner. A quality one will nourish and condition your sofa. Apply on a soft cloth or sponge and rub gently in a circular motion to lift the dirt.
And here are some tips for cleaning a leather sofa:
- Saddle soap is a very effective product for cleaning leather sofas, but only use occasionally as it may start to dissolve the leather over time.
- You can also use white vinegar mixed with water. Add a few drops of tea tree oil to freshen and kill any bacteria. Simply wipe over the surface of your leather sofa with a clean cloth as utilising a blow dryer could actually dehydrate the leather..
- If you get any grease stains on your sofa simply cover with a few paper towels. They’re highly absorbent and will soak up greasy maks. Dab gently to help soak up as much as possible. Afterwards, sprinkle evenly with baking soda. This will absorb any remaining grease. Leave for a while then gently brush off.
- Ink or marker pen stains can often be removed by using hairspray. Test on a small area first that you know will be hidden. Occasionally, small marker pen stains will fade on their own so don’t panic!
- Condition your leather sofa and make it look like new! After you’ve cleaned the sofa make a solution using one part white vinegar to two parts linseed oil. Using a soft cloth rub over the surface. Leave overnight or for about eight hours.
Using a clean cloth buff the treated sofa to give a shiny, clean look that will make it look brand new. Regular cleaning will make it less of a chore. Your sofa will last longer and save you money in the long run.
How to Clean a Fabric Sofa
Fabrics are generally able to stand up to an appreciable amount of wear and tear. However, this depends upon the quality of the sofa as well as its age. It’s important to only use detergents which have been specifically designed to be used in conjunction with fabrics.
Follow these effective tips to clean a fabric sofa:
- Start by vacuuming the sofa using the upholstery attachment. Don’t forget to vacuum any loose cushions as well. Make sure you lift them off the sofa and clean both sides. Cushions can harbor a lot of dust especially if you have pets.
- Many fabric sofas can be steam cleaned but always check the label first. Use a water based detergent, and as I mentioned previously, always do a spot check first.
- Suck up excess detergent by releasing the button that applies it. The best way to dry your sofa is naturally. Don’t use a hair dryer or any type of fan heater. If possible, leave the windows open to let the air circulate.
- If you can’t use water based cleaners on your sofa you may be able to use dry cleaning solvents. Always check the instructions first.
- You could also try spraying alcohol. Pour some into a clean spray bottle and test a small area first. Using the mist nozzle on your spray gently apply evenly over the surface of your sofa. Rub vigorously using a plain white sponge. If the fabric feels stiff after its dried, use a washing up brush with soft bristles and rub the area to try and soften it.
- Another product you could try is a fabric stain remover. These are normally meant for clothes but there’s no reason why you can’t use them on your fabric sofa. They work using enzymes that break down certain stains. Don’t forget to do a spot test first. You’ll find different stain removers target different types of stains.
Additionally, any cleansers or detergents should be washed (or dabbed) away after the recommended amount of time has elapsed.
Heavily ground in stains may be hard to clean with solvents and in this case it’s best to use a professional cleaning service. In some cases this may mean buying a brand new sofa.
Looking after your furniture will not only keep your home looking nice but will also provide a comfortable and welcoming place to relax. I hope this article has helped you understand how to clean a sofa the most effective way. It’s really very easy and will prolong the life of your furniture for many years.