From movie nights to sick days to pet beds, knowing how to shampoo a couch is crucial for fighting stains and odors. With minimal elbow grease, basic know-how, and the best water based cleaner for couches, your upholstered furniture will look and smell incredible in no time.
Note: If you need to clean a leather couch, we’ve got you covered!
Universal Couch Cleaning Codes
The universal cleaning code(s) listed on the couch’s tag require different methods:
- S: The fabric must be cleaned using a water-free solvent (or similar dry-cleaning product). To find the correct solvent for home use, ask your local furniture store for recommendations. You'll likely need to call an upholstery-cleaning company.
- X: These fabrics should not be cleaned with water-based cleaners or solvents. Use your vacuum’s upholstery attachment (the one with a brush on the bottom), brush debris off with a soft-bristle upholstery brush, or sweep with a hand broom.
- W & W/S: Cotton, woven polyester, and microfiber sofas with a “W”are the easiest to clean. Use a water based upholstery cleaner (like our Natural Carpet & Upholstery Shampoo).
Pro tip: Spot a "W/S"? A combination of water-based couch cleaners and solvents can be used.
The Supplies You Need for Shampooing a Couch
- Vacuum with upholstery attachment
- Carpet cleaning machine (optional)
- 3 clean, light-colored microfiber cloths (dark/bright colors can transfer to fabric)
- A bucket or large bowl
- Warm water (distilled if you have hard water.)
- Upholstery cleaner
- A natural stain remover
How to Clean a Couch by Hand
If your couch has a W or W/S tag – and you’re dealing with an especially nasty stain – these are the steps to clean a fabric couch by hand. Just like with any cleaning method, test an inconspicuous area before targeting the entire piece.
Have a carpet cleaning machine? See the section below!
1. Vacuum Sofa
Using your vacuum’s upholstery attachment helps to dislodge and remove debris and pet hair that can cause bigger stains during the cleaning process. Be sure to get into crevices and seams, as well as doing a once over with a lint roller. Wipe wooden or metal surfaces with a microfiber cloth and all-purpose cleaner.
Pro tip: You can deodorize a fabric couch by sprinkling baking soda on it, letting it sit for up to 20 minutes, and then vacuuming up the baking soda.
2. Break out Your Couch Stain Remover
If you’ve got removable cushion covers, spray stains with our Natural Stain Remover and agitate with a gentle laundry brush. For deep stains, wait at least 8 hours/overnight and launder.
If you're only dealing with a few discolored areas, spray them with Puracy Natural Stain Remover. The longer you wait, the more time these enzymatic cleaners have to work. We recommend upwards of 8 hours (or overnight).
Pro tip: For suede couches, white vinegar is also a good home remedy for tackling stubborn stains. Mix it with warm water and gently dab the stain until it is gone.
After our plant-based enzymes have time to work, remove your couch cushion covers and wash them on a delicate cycle. Check fabric care instructions, but we highly recommend air drying them flat to avoid shrinkage.
Pro tip: Choose a natural, non-dyed, naturally scented, or sensitive detergent to ensure against discoloration or harming the fabric.
4. Dilute Your Fabric Couch Cleaner
For an all-over clean, mix warm water and our 4x concentrated Puracy Natural Carpet & Upholstery Shampoo. This means 100 ounces of water requires just 1 ounce of cleaning solution!
5. Blot, Rinse, Repeat
Soak one microfiber cloth in the cleaning solution and gently blot stained areas. Rubbing and scrubbing can damage the fabric and make stains look even worse!
Dip another clean microfiber cloth in plain warm water. Blot to help remove cleaning solution remnants. With your third (dry) microfiber cloth, blot the area again until dry.
Pro tip: To avoid scratches and peeling, polyurethane coated leather requires different maintenance than leather upholstery – but we’ve made it easy with our leather cleaning tips.
6. Let Everything Dry
Before replacing anything, make sure that each couch part is completely dry. You can point a fan at the damp area or open your window to accelerate the process.
Pro tip: If it’s cold and flu season, you can disinfect your couch using a natural disinfectant to minimize the spread of germs and viruses.
How to Clean a Couch with a Carpet Cleaning Machine
If you don’t have removable cushions – or you'd simply like to make things easier on yourself – a carpet cleaning machine is the easiest way to clean a fabric couch.
1. Dilute Your Fabric Couch Cleaner
Dilute your sofa shampooing solution and fill the removable tank with it. Shake the tank before reattaching.
2. Run the Machine
Use according to manufacturer instructions.
3. Empty and Refill the Machine
After the first runthrough, empty and refill your tank with distilled water and complete one more cleaning cycle.
Let everything completely dry before using and you’re good to go!
Note: If you need to remove stubborn smudges or odors, pretreat them with our Stain Remover for at least 8 hours.
How to Remove Couch Stains
Tackle the toughest stains with these home remedies.
Laundry Detergent or Dish Soap
- Rub a small amount of laundry detergent (or dish soap) directly on the stain.
- Let it sit for up to an hour.
- Rinse it off with cold water, and blot it dry with a clean towel.
- Create a solution from white vinegar and water.
- Scrub it onto the stain using a clean towel.
- Rinse it off with cold water, and blot it dry with a clean towel.
- Mix 2 cups cold water, 1 tbsp baking soda, and 1 tbsp dish soap.
- Gentle rub mixture on stain using an old toothbrush.
- Rinse with cold water.
Pro tip: Avoid using baking soda on wool or other pH sensitive-dye, as it can bleach or discolor the material.
Enzyme-Based Stain Remover
- Spray on the stain remover then massage the affected area with a soft brush.
- Wait at least 8 hours (can be left on for days).
- Launder with the warmest water the fabric care instructions allow. Opt for the "Extra Rinse" cycle. Some stains may require two treatments.
Getting Smells Out of a Couch
The fresh citrus scent of Puracy upholstery cleaner – and its hardworking plant-based enzymes – should get your couch fresh and clean. If you still notice musty, dusty, or funky smells, try this method:
- Shake baking soda liberally over all couch surfaces.
- Let it sit for at least 30 minutes (bonus points if it’s in a sunny spot).
- Vacuum with your vacuum’s upholstery attachment.
Pro Tip: Dealing with nose-crinkling pet odors? Not worry: We've got tips to combat dog smell around your home.
When Should You Call Professional Help?
Look into getting your couch professionally cleaned or steamed if you’re dealing with the following:
- A couch that sees heavy usage should be professionally cleaned every 12-18 months
- A heavy duty stain that requires a deep clean
- Respiratory and severe dermatological problems, as well those with chronic diseases, should have their couch professionally cleaned regularly to minimize germs and allergens
Discover the Best Sofa Cleaning Shampoo Anywhere
Our Natural Carpet & Upholstery Shampoo was formulated to be the most effective natural upholstery cleaner anywhere. Even better: It's 100% biodegradable, completely fume-free, and the plant-based enzymes tackle hundreds of stains and odors at their source.
Whether you use it by hand or with a carpet cleaning machine, you’ll have a guest-ready sofa that smells fresh – and looks amazing.