Cleaning 101: How to Clean a Couch

Cleaning 101: How to Clean a Couch

Reading Cleaning 101: How to Clean a Couch 5 minutes Next A Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Your TV Screen

Written by Tenley Haraldson.

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!

The universal cleaning code(s) listed on the couch’s tag require different methods:  


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.


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).

Spot a "W/S"? A combination of water-based couch cleaners and solvents can be used.

The Supplies You Need for Shampooing a Couch

couch stain remover

How to Clean a Couch by Hand

water based cleaner for couch

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

how to clean a fabric couch

Using your vacuum’s upholstery attachment helps to dislodge and remove debris that can cause bigger stains during the cleaning process. Be sure to get into crevices and seams. 

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. 

stain remover for couch

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). 

3. Launder 

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. 

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

water based cleaner for couch

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.

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.

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.

Dilute your sofa shampooing solution and fill the removable tank with it. Shake the tank before reattaching. Use according to manufacturer instructions. 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! 

 If you need to remove stubborn smudges or odors, pretreat them with our Stain Remover for at least 8 hours.

Getting Smells out of a Couch

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: 

  1. Shake baking soda liberally over all couch surfaces.
  2. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes (bonus points if it’s in a sunny spot).
  3. 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.

Discover the Best Sofa Cleaning Shampoo Anywhere

fabric couch cleaner

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.