Skip to Content

The Best Three Ways to Clean a Sofa

Inside: The best three ways to clean a sofa; whether you have an old sofa that’s showing wear and tear, or you’ve bought a second hand sofa that requires a deep cleaning.

For whatever reason, people seem to like to come to me for advice on how to clean things – this post on the three best ways to clean thrift store furniture might be helpful to you as well, depending on the intensity of your couch cleaning needs! Today, however, I plan to talk a bit about the three best ways to clean a sofa. Whether you’ve got an old sofa that you want to revive, a stain on an upholstered cushion or you’ve purchased a second hand sofa that you need to clean – I’ve got a tested solution for you. (This post contains affiliate links.)ways to clean a sofa

What Type of Sofa are you Cleaning?

Here’s one thing to consider before cleaning the upholstery on your couch or chair – how precious is it? Some cleaning methods can damage certain fabrics, so you’ll want to avoid those if at all possible. Microsuede and velvet are especially challenging to clean. Slipcovers are easy to clean but can be annoying to take off and put on and drying times must be accounted for. Second hand sofas can be a real challenge to clean because you aren’t always aware of what type of ‘dirt’ you’re dealing with. Read on and hopefully I offer some guidance to help you clean your couch!

Ways to Refresh your Sofa

So in my mind, there’s a difference between cleaning a sofa and refreshing the cushions. If you want to just give it a blitz once every couple of weeks without doing a deep down cleanse, then consider a spray refresher. Something like a Lysol Fabric Refresher or Febreze does pretty well – and if you want a chemical free solution, try this remedy for getting pet odours out of upholstery and carpets. I also sprinkle with baking soda and vacuum the cushions once a week.


Neutral Living Room

Neutral Living Room

We bought the grey couch within a week of moving into our house. It was dark grey microfibre and it never did well with our pets – AT ALL. There were always drool marks all over it. And the only real option for cleaning a microfibre couch is to spot clean it.  For the most part, I stuck to non-chemical sprays and every week, I would wipe it down with a hard rubber glove.`

How to Clean a Slipcover Sofa

I have owned quite a few slipcovered sofas in my time and I do appreciate how carefree they are when it comes to pets and kids. But there is a good way to clean slipcovers so they stay fresh longer. For the most part, my slipcovered sofas are from Ikea – they are cheap, cheerful, easy to clean and if push comes to shove, they are relatively easy to replace. New Living Room with White Slipcovered Couch

How to Wash a White Ikea Slipcover

When the stain first appears or if you catch it right away:

Say someone wipes Cheetos on the couch in front of you, just spritz with a non-toxic household cleaner and wipe with the direction of the fabric with a damp, clean cloth. Use a bit of force and it’ll hold you over until you actually launder it.

How to work with a white Ikea couch

For hard stains like tomato sauce, wine or chocolate:

Use a spot cleaning oxygen bleach solution on hard stains just before laundering. Make sure to dampen your slipcover before applying the stain remover and then rub it in gently into any and all spots. (By the way, oxygen bleach solution is also amazing at dealing with fruit flies.)

How to wash a slipcover in the washing machine

  1. Despite the label instructions, I wash my slipcover in WARM water and I add bleach crystals (NOT liquid bleach) to the washer.
  2. Tumble dry  on medium perma-press heat and put them back on while just a teensy bit damp.
  3. Do this every six weeks or so and if I’m pressed for time, I only do the cushion parts.

The alternative to this method is to use a steam or sanitary cycle on your washing machine and then steam dry the slipcover. This will release any allergens and pet dander and it’s not as hard on the fibres of the slipcover, so they will last a lot longer.
Simple Living Room with Rustic Wood and White Couch

Rustic Coastal Living Room with White Couch

How to clean a Second hand or thrifted sofa

This will be a bit more challenging because you likely aren’t sure what you’re dealing with. Is it general must, pet odors, smoke, water damage? Hard to know depending on the circumstances. In this case, you will want to be very clear on what type of fabric you’re using and how it will hold up, so I recommend doing a spot test of anything and everything you’re going to try before going all the way with any smell or cleaning solution.

With a second hand sofa, the first step to cleaning it is to really air it out. If you can remove all the cushions and lay them out in full sun for at least an entire day. (You can still do the other cleaning methods on this day, but the sun will help act as a natural cleaner and deodorizer.)

Unzip any zippers and make sure the insert or foam inlay is intact and not moldy or breaking down. If it is, you should consider replacing them.

Why we bought a white couch

If it’s delicate fabric, this deodorizing method will be your best first line of defense, followed by baking soda sprinkle and a good solid vacuum.

Put on rubber cleaning gloves and rub the upholstery vigorously to loosen any dirt or debris stuck in the fabric, sprinkle with baking soda, and vacuum it again. Repeat this a few times.

Lastly, try the chemical deodorizer like Lysol or Febreze. If all else fails, reupholstery might be your best option to clean a second hand sofa.

Here are some other posts you might like


How to repurpose a table into wall art | Silhouette Challenge
← Read Last Post
install wood floors on concrete
How to Install a Barn Board Floor over Concrete | Tutorial
Read Next Post →

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Saturday 28th of October 2017

I almost purchased a white slip covered couch set off of Wayfair for over 3 grand! I could not imagine spending that kind of money on a couch set I have seen for sale for cheap (albeit, not with white slipcovers) on many for sale sites in my local community, so I checked Craigslist. I found the perfect set! I bought a couch, loveseat, and chair with ottoman for $200 off of Craigslist. It was yellow with big flowers...and nowhere near my style! The cushions were still good, though, and I knew I was going to be using slipcovers, so I had my hubby pick that set up.

I then looked around for slipcovers and found that the Ektorp seemed to look exactly like my I got on Amazon and ordered the set for around $500. They were 100% cotton, and I ended up ripping them here and there trying to make the bases fit... I was crushed. I then ordered another set off of Ebay, which were 80% cotton 20% polyester (something like that), and they were SUPER white...I didn't think I wanted that, so I stashed those away instead of returning them. I then hid the parts that I ripped on my original set with cute blankets. Man, that 100% cotton got so filthy soooo fast!!! Spot cleaning only left more of a I was washing, stretching, and working my butt off every week to wash and replace the cotton ones.

I finally got tired of washing them and decided to pull out that other set that had some polyester in it. I ripped the crap out of those trying to make them fit...they had no wiggle room at all! I noticed that it fit fine everywhere except for the, I decided to detach the backs, buy more fabric (that I actually found at Walmart for 7 and change a yard), and I sewed those on using new measurements. Boom! Perfect fit!!! I also noticed that I can actually spot clean and it looks clean! I then flip them over if they get too dirty...and once the other side gets too dirty to spot clean, I wash them. I am now only washing my covers in the machine about once every 2 months!

Like you, I absolutely love my white set! I have 5 kids at home (two grown who no longer live with us), a husband, 3 dogs (two are German Shepherds who shed like craycray), and two cats. I am still happy with my white set and all I have to go through to keep them clean ;)


Tuesday 14th of June 2016

I love the slip covered couches, they just look so fresh and comfy what dog wouldn't just love hanging out on one of these. When I buy a new couch This is exactly what I want. You made a great choice.


Sunday 12th of June 2016

It looks fantastic Erin!!! I've been wanting a pretty couch just like this for ages now, you may have just convinced me to go for it ;)


Tuesday 23rd of May 2017

I have the same IKEA couch, also in white, and love it. It looks just like a pottery barn, or any other expensive couch with a slip cover but so much less expensive. Washing it every couple of months keeps it really looking great and if I should ever want to change something up they sell slipcovers in other colors.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.