How to Clean a Couch: The Best Types of Upholstery Cleaner to Keep Your Couch Looking Great

upholstery cleaner

How to Clean a Couch: The Best Types of Upholstery Cleaner to Keep Your Couch Looking Great

No matter how careful you are, your couches get dirty. Stains from pets, drinks, and spilled food can ruin the look of your couch.

If you’ve invested in a set of furniture for your home you want to keep it looking and smelling great as long as you can. To do that you need to know how to clean the stains when they happen. And they will!

Learning about your couches and which upholstery cleaner you should use is important. You can do more damage to your furniture if you clean it with the wrong product or use the wrong technique.

To help you get your upholstery clean we’ve put together this guide. You’ll learn how to tell which type of couch you have You’ll also find out about the different types of materials couches are made of, and which upholstery cleaner you should choose.

Find out What Upholstery Your Couch Is Made From

The first step you need to take to work out what upholstery cleaner you should use is to check what type of fabric your furniture is made from. Your furniture has a tag on it. Check the tag to see which letter code is on it.

There are 4 letter codes. W, WS, S, and X.

  • On furniture with a W you can use water to clean it.
  • On furniture with WS you can use a mild detergent with a steam vacuum. Or you can use a dry-cleaning detergent.
  • On furniture with an S you can only use a dry cleaner detergent.
  • On furniture with an X you can vacuum it but don’t use any liquids.

Next, determine what material you have. The 4 main types of material are leather, synthetic leather, cotton or linen, and microfiber.


Clean leather couches with a damp cloth. Use soaps that are made for leather. An example of this is saddle soap.

You should also condition the leather every 6 to 12 months. Conditioning the leather keeps it from drying and cracking. Use a special leather conditioner for this.

Synthetic Leather

Synthetic leather couches usually have a W code. You should use water as the main way to clean it. If you do use a mild detergent make sure you wipe it off after you have cleaned the upholstery.

If you do use a mild detergent make sure you don’t use too much. If you put too much detergent on the couch you can leave a stain.

Cotton or Linen

Natural fibers such as cotton or linen have specific cleaning needs. Such couches usually have an S code. This means you shouldn’t use water to clean them.

Water can make the upholstery fade or make the dye in the fabric bleed.

Instead, use a dry-cleaning solvent. Alternatively, you can use dry upholstery detergent. The detergent works best for spot cleaning.

Once you have cleaned the stains or dirt, vacuum the couch. You can also gently apply baking soda if the stain is tough to remove. Once you have rubbed in the baking soda make sure you vacuum it out right away.

Microfiber (polyester)

Microfiber couches can handle a variety of upholstery cleaning methods. These couches usually have a W or an S code.

For S-code microfiber furniture use a dry upholstery detergent. Let the detergent sit for the recommended time after applying. Then vacuum it out or suck it up with a rag or towel.

For W-code microfiber furniture use a foaming upholstery cleaner. Again, once it has done its work, vacuum it up or use a towel.

Other options for microfiber upholstery are rubbing alcohol and spot cleaner. In both cases, carefully brush the fibers of the cloth after drying the liquid. That way you will stop the microfiber from becoming hard and stiff.

5 Great Stain Upholstery Cleaners

Once you know the letter code and material of your furniture it’s time to choose an upholstery cleaner to use. Here are 5 great options to consider.

Astonish Fabric Stain Remover

Almost every expert recommends Astonish Fabric Stain Remover as one of, if not, the best stain remover product on the market.

It’s fast, cheap, and easy to apply. You spray it on your furniture, leave it for 10 minutes, and wipe it up.

It should not be used on velvet, leather, or suede.

Earth Friendly ECOS Stain and Odor Remover

If you have a strong affinity for the environment, this product should be high on your list. It’s another spray so it’s easy to apply.

It’s made from renewable plant extracts, it smells great, and it works well, too. Spray it on, leave it for 5 minutes, and you’re done.

Dr. Beckman Carpet Stain Remover

Because this product has a built-in brush, it works well when you need to scrub the upholstery. The brush makes it effective against hard-to-remove stains, such as blood and dark-fruit stains.

You squeeze a bit of the product through the brush on to the furniture. Then, gently brush the liquid into the upholstery. After a few minutes wipe up any excess liquid with a cloth.

Cleanly Upholstery Cleaner

It’s not as cheap as some of the others, but this is an excellent spray cleaner. This natural upholstery cleaner is just as effective as some of the manufactured products on the market. It’s also easy to use.

Just spray it on, leave it for 5 minutes, and then wipe up the excess liquid.

Hoover Platinum Collection Carpet and Upholstery Detergent

If you need to use a steam cleaner this product is one of the best options out there. It’s effective on tough stains and is even approved by the Carpet and Rug Institute.

This professional strength cleaner should only be used on S-code furniture. It takes a bit more time and effort than the other cleaners on this list. That’s partly because you need a steam cleaner, but also because you have to mix the solution and do a spot test first.

When to Use a Professional Upholstery Cleaner

If you have big stains or don’t want to run the risk of ruining your couch, you might want to consider a professional upholstery cleaner.

Professional cleaning companies will get all the dirt out of your upholstery using techniques that you can’t do on your own. They have equipment and cleaning products that aren’t available in the stores.

Professional cleaning companies will also clean the frames of your furniture during the process. These services cost more than doing it yourself, but you’ll have spotless furniture once it’s done.

Get Cleaning!

Now that you know what to look for and what types of upholstery cleaner to look for, get cleaning. Your couches will look and smell great once again.

If you want professional and environmentally friendly cleaning of your furniture we can help. We treat your upholstery like it’s our own. Our services are safe for you and your family or pets.

For healthy, effective upholstery cleaning give us a call today. We’ll get your furniture looking and smelling like new.

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