How to Clean Upholstery Furniture & Keep Your Sofa Fresh For Long

You probably already know some basics about upholstery cleaning and the process of succeeding when sanitizing your sofa and leaving your home more fresh and polished. Therefore you probably realise and it goes without saying that Upholstery Cleaning is extremely important because as one of the most popular items in your home, furniture takes in the most beating, and to top it all sofas are a dust magnet. 

Without regular maintenance and cleaning, you will find yourself dealing with very grimy furniture. A dirty sofa is a prerequisite for an unhealthy environment and a certain risk of allergies and diseases. Over time dirt, debris, spills, and grim soak into your upholstery surfaces making your furniture look more soiled, spotted and aged. 

So why, you ask, do so many people just vacuum up their sofa and call it quits? 

Maybe the reason is due to the fact that effective upholstery cleaning can’t go without the occasional deep upholstery cleansing and of course deep cleaning is more time-consuming and it might seem a little boring.

Especially if it is not your belief that cleaning is a fun and enjoyable endeavor. We can’t all be cleaning fanatics like Monica Geller. Additionally, the process of extensive disinfecting and sanitizing won’t be as efficient if you don’t know how to execute a good upholstery cleaning.  

The time for excuses ends at some point and you’ll definitely have to put on your gloves and get to work, in this complete guide we will show how to clean upholstery in a manner that leaves you some free time to yourself and gets you the most astonishing results. 

Let us start by giving a concise answer to an important question. 

What is Upholstery Cleaning?

Upholstery cleaning allows you to remove stains, eliminate bacteria, extract dirt and debris and sanitize your furniture. The process is a combination of using a powerful cleaning solution, gearing up with the right cleaning tools, using the proper technique, and vacuuming in a correct manner. Professional cleaners often inject a powerful cleaning mixture and water deep into the fabric of the sofa to bring back that wow factor of your furniture the way it was when you first placed it in your home. 

There are many articles out there about sofa cleaning from many bloggers and professional cleaners giving their best tips, sharing their instructions, the dos, and don’ts of upholstery cleaning, and trends to help you solve your cleaning issue.

There are countless popular opinions on the matter but most maids and cleaning technicians have almost the same cleaning routine: 

  1. Inspect
  2. Identify the most damaged areas
  3. Dust and vacuum
  4. Test a cleaning solution on a non-visible area of the upholstery 
  5. Clean and groom

So what is the best way to clean upholstery furniture in a way that makes your living room ready for relaxing in front of the TV, napping with a good book, or having a guest over? 

What is The Best Way to Clean a Fabric Sofa? 

Before you begin cleaning your sofa make sure that you prepare your equipment. That way you can save time later from searching for a particular mop or cleaning product. Place all the stuff you need in the centre of the room and avoid little circles around the house you will make otherwise if you don’t prepare. 

Start by checking the label on the couch, it is vital to know what type of upholstery fabric you will be cleaning and what the codes mean.

Here is the meaning of fabric codes: 

  • W – Hopefully, this is the sign you will see as these are the easiest materials to crack because you can apply water-based solutions to the fabric. 
  • WS – This code indicates that you can only apply light solution a.k.a cleaning solvents free of water. 
  • X – Vacuum, and dust only
  • S – Clean only by vacuuming or gentle brushing to remove overall soil. 

The secret to knowing how to clean upholstery is dusting, vacuuming, and cleaning in the S pattern! According to one of the most valued cleaning experts Melissa Maker, the S pattern is the best cleaning technique you will ever use. Most people use a circle-like movement because they are used to seeing the cleaning motion in others like their grandmothers or mothers.

Going about upholstery cleaning with your clock-like movement means that you are basically taking a clean cloth and pushing it into a fairly dirty surface but going around in circles.

Unfortunately, that is wrong. If you imagine for a minute the clock mechanism you will realise that you are basically cleaning one part and bringing back the dirty part to it and working way harder than you need to. However, if you use the S pattern things look different. 

The S pattern is a simple cleaning technique where you begin from the right corner of the surface, wipe all the way to the left, and then go back down. With the S pattern, you do not smear the dust back on the surface and you clean more efficiently and save time! This means more free time for yourselves and less time cleaning, YAY! 

How to Clean Upholstery? 

Here are all the steps you need to follow to successfully clean your furniture. There we go: 

  1. Organise – Remove all unnecessary items, so they don’t stand in your way
  2. Pillowcases – Take the essence of your sofa – the cushions and then take down the pillowcases and put them in the washer 
  3. Dust – To perform this step properly you will need a dry brush and remember to use the S pattern! 
  4. Vacuum – Always vacuum with the upholstery attachment of the vacuum cleaner. Clean the entire sofa, this includes the back of the upholstery, the arms, and the skirt. If your cushions don’t have pillowcases vacuum the fabric of the cushions and what’s underneath, going as far under the back and arms as your vacuum can reach. 

How to Deep Clean Your Sofa? 

Sometimes you need to take care of a stubborn stain or you may have to deal with soiled upholstery but no matter what at some point you will need to deeply clean your furniture. To properly clean a couch and eliminate soaked bacteria and debris from your most precious item you will entail a cleaning brush, baking soda, white wine vinegar, and dish soap.  

Follow these steps to perform a truly good deep cleaning: 

  1. Inspect – Every great cleaner kicks off with a pre-inspection. Give your upholstery a thorough eye check before beginning. It’s possible that you have stains or areas that require more attention and you need to ascertain what material your sofa is made of. In case you need to know How To Clean a Suede Sofa, please go ahead and check our blog for more information. Keep in mind that the dirtiest parts of your upholstery demand more cleaning solutions and even repetition. 
  2. Test – Remember when we said that all professionals test their cleaning solutions on non-visible areas. This is truly vital. Now baking soda is one of the most affordable and amazing cleaning solutions. It does good work extracting odour as well but we will give you more tips about dealing with smells in a bit. Baking soda usually works really well with most materials but you need to test it out just to be safe. 
  3. Brush Away – Take your cleaning brush and remove dirt, debris maybe some bread crumbs, or more. Check for dust and dirt in the gaps in the sofa or between the pillows. If you find anything, eliminate the mess with the vacuum cleaner.
  4. Sprinkle Baking Soda – Apply baking soda on your entire upholstery and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle down baking soda evenly on the entire surface. Check carefully and make sure you are not missing any areas like the back and arms of the sofa. It works like a miracle and pulls out embedded dirt from your upholstery. For even better results consider mixing the baking soda in Dry Carpet Cleaner Powder for an even deeper clean. 
  5. Vacuum – Get ready to use the vacuum cleaner thoroughly and clean the sofa carefully. Using the upholstery attachment is a must as otherwise, you might damage the material of the couch. Remove the baking soda and clean the surface using the S pattern we mentioned earlier. 
  6. Treat Stubborn Stains – There is a very simple solution here that will help you avoid stains or search for a particular question in Google such as “How to clean wine stains from my sofa”- Get Scotchgard Protection! This stain and water repellent will push away all possible spills and sauces from the surface of your upholstery and will turn cleaning into child’s play! Nevertheless, if you don’t have it at home we will give you not 1 but 2 amazing DIY cleaning recipes that you can easily make at home. Homemade cleaning products are lifesavers! They are affordable and efficient. Bear in mind that if they don’t work you will need to consult with a Professional Cleaning Company. 

Magical DIY Cleaner for Fabric Sofas: 

  • 1/5 teaspoons Castile soap
  • 60 ml. of warm water
  • Cleaning cloth 

Blend the warm water and soap in a small container, you can even use a glass jar. Grab your white cleaning cloth and immerse the cloth into the mixture and show those stains that don’t belong on your sofa. At the beginning apply the DIY cleaner gently on the surface as you need to avoid pushing the stain deeper into the upholstery.

When you start to see significant results attack the stain with a little more pressure. Add a small amount of water to remove any residual soap when you are about done. Once the stains are removed, use a clean, dry cloth to absorb any liquid that remains. 

This DIY cleaner with Castile soap is a great hack for those of you who saw the fabric code with the W sign. 

Let’s discuss how to tackle stains if your label has the WS code. Since you have to avoid all liquids you need a dry upholstery cleaner to shampoo your sofa and remove the stains. Here is where our second DIY cleaner comes in place: 

Dry DIY Upholstery Cleaner:

  • 1 baking soda.
  • 1 corn-starch.
  • 1 tablespoon borax.
  • 1-2 dried bay leaves (optional) 
  • Lemon peel (optional) 
  • Household brush 

We call this cleaning process Cleaning and Boxing. The battle between you and the stubborn stains begins but we have a strong feeling you are about to win. Mix the ingredients in a bowl. Adding the lemon peel and bay leaves will help to drive away the smell caused by the stain.

Making this homemade cleaner is super easy and it works great especially with oily stains. Now add a little bit of the mixture and rub gently with your finger. Let it sit for about 5 minutes. This is the first round of your battle with the stain.

Secondly, remove the first layer of the DIY Upholstery Cleaner from your sofa with a cleaning cloth. For the third round, you will need to apply a thicker layer on the surface and then grab your household brush and clean using medium pressure.

This phase might go on for about 5-10 minutes. Then put away the second layer of a dry cleaner and announce yourself as the winner. 

Should you need a more advanced formula check out this Dry Carpet Cleaner Powder. It uses a formula that penetrates deep into the fabric of your upholstery. 

What is The Best Upholstery Cleaning Machine? 

As a professional upholstery and carpet cleaning company for 25 years we have dealt with many vacuum cleaners. A high-quality professional vacuum cleaner works miracles but if you will only need the vacuum at home, search for a machine that is both suitable for professional and domestic use.

Check out this quite constructive and informative article about the best 9 vacuum cleaners for upholstery on the market. Compare prices and functionalities and take your pick. 

One more thing, you are most likely looking for an all-purpose vacuum cleaner, so look for a machine that does a great job cleaning floors, carpets, upholstery, mattress & more. In addition, the vacuum cleaner must have a flexible head so that it can suck up dirt and dust from even the most hidden corners in your home. 

How to Get Rid of Unpleasant Smells? 

Many stains leave an annoying pungent odour that you just can’t stand such as vomit or urine. Sometimes our pets get sick or just can’t hold it. As a result, we need to take care of the surprise they leave us on the couch or carpet at home.

There is a way to handle both the stain and the smell with only one simple DIY refresher. We found this wonderful recipe from Clean Mama that you will just love. It includes essential oils like lavender and lemon that promise a great fix-up. 

DIY Refresher From Clean Mama:

  • 100ml of water
  • 50 ml. Of vodka 
  • 5 drops of lemon essential oils 
  • 5 drops of lavender essential oils 
  • Spray bottle 

Spray the solution on the damaged area. Dry with a clean cloth and forget about the unpleasant smell. 

How Much is DIY Upholstery Cleaning VS. Professional Upholstery Cleaning? 

Upholstery cleaning can be quite a challenge if you have an old and stubborn stain. Furthermore, the older the stain, the harder it is to take it out. The risk of postponing deep upholstery cleaning is great for your health and the well-being of your family and friends.

So take action before you start sneezing or something even worse. There two ways to go about deep cleaning you can either spend some time and do it yourself or you can hire cleaning professionals. Let’s summarize all the cleaning products you need to buy to rehabilitate the condition of your upholstery.

The average prices of all the cleaning products you need to deep clean your couch at home are about £47. Provided you purchase essential oils to extract odor from fabric materials. In comparison, the average price for professional upholstery cleaning in the UK is about £75.

There are pros and cons to DIY cleaning and to hiring a professional to clean your sofa. DIY cleaning is affordable because you can reuse the product you acquired again, however it takes more time than professional cleaning. Additionally, you have to spend your day cleaning instead of enjoying your free time. Professional upholstery cleaning has a higher price but it’s more efficient.

The Cleaning technicians here at Clean Expert use equipment and Antiviral Cleaning solutions that can kill up to 99,9 % of all bacteria which we don’t need to tell you in the times we live in, is quite impressive. 

No matter what your decision is, remember that deep upholstery cleaning is important for sofa rehabilitation and restoration. 

Tip:  If you are dealing with any other kind of stain don’t hesitate to place your comments below. Or if you are dealing with a more difficult situation and you need help, don’t hesitate to contact us, we are a professional cleaning company with a lot of experience in suede sofa cleaning. 


  • George Kosev

    George Kossev is a highly experienced and dedicated carpet cleaning specialist with over 15 years of expertise in providing top-quality carpet care solutions. As the owner of Clean Expert, George has built a reputation for excellence, reliability, and unparalleled customer service in the carpet cleaning industry.