Cleaning your couch is about more than just getting a stubborn wine stain out. Even a couch that appears spotless has a dirty little secret: it’s full of allergens, germs, bacteria, and more! 

Some of the nastiness that may be hiding in your couch includes:

  • Dust mites
  • Mold
  • Viruses
  • Bacteria from people, pets, and spilled food
  • Oil from skin
  • Chemicals
  • Insects attracted to food crumbs

Most of us overlook our couch when we clean our living room. And even the people who do make a point to sanitize their couch only do it a handful of times over many years, if that.

A dirty couch can spread disease, attract pests, and trigger allergic reactions. But the good news is that you can prevent all of that by giving your couch the deep clean it craves.

Here’s a simple step-by-step guide on how to clean your couch from the home cleaning experts at GSC.

1. Remove Cushions

The first step is easy. You’re off to a great start!

2. Wash Cushion Covers with the Laundry

Most fabric couches have removable cushion covers that can washed in your washing machine. Check the tag for any cleaning instructions, but they’re usually fine to wash as you would most of your clothing.

If you’re cleaning a leather/pleather couch, you can skip the washing machine and just wipe down the cushions with a 50/50 white vinegar and water solution.

3. Vacuum Up Dust, Crumbs, and Debris

Before you dive into a deep clean of the rest of the couch, start with the easy stuff. Use your vacuum’s extensions to suck up as much dirt, dust, crumbs, and whatever else is lurking in your couch, as well as in the coverless seat cushions.

4. Get Rid of Odors with Baking Soda

Now it’s time to get serious. Baking soda is seriously effective at sucking up any lingering odors — it’s why you often see a box of baking soda in the back of people’s refrigerators. It can also kill bacteria and soak up moisture, making it a go-to couch cleaner.

Before you go dumping baking soda all over your couch, find a small corner on the back and bottom of your couch (somewhere people can’t see) and rub a little dry baking soda in. Let it sit for a few minutes and then vacuum it up.

The baking soda should come out of your fabric completely. If it lightens the color of your couch’s fabric, stop and skip this step. Don’t worry, the later steps will help deodorize your couch as well.

If the baking soda comes out of the fabric, then pour a healthy amount on all the surfaces of your couch (and the coverless seat cushions) and rub it in with a dry, clean brush. Allow the baking soda to sit for 2 to 4 hours before vacuuming it all up.

Pro-tip: For leather sofas, this method of applying baking soda is also great at getting out grease stains.

5. Clean Couch Body with a Soap and a Sponge

Next up: the deep cleaning. Make a soap solution with dish soap or laundry detergent and water. One tablespoon of soap to two cups of water will do the trick.

Soak a clean sponge in the solution and then squeeze it out thoroughly so it’s not too wet, but still has bubbles on it. This will prevent introducing copious amounts of moisture to your couch, which will take a long time to dry.

Lightly scrub your entire couch, one section at a time, refreshing the sponge with fresh solution as needed. After you scrub each section with soap, use a second sponge dipped in clean water and squeezed mostly dry to wipe up the soapy solution off the couch surface.

Pay special attention to the armrests and back cushions, which are likely to be the dirtiest parts of your couch. You can also use this treatment on the uncovered seat cushions, if you desire.

6. Treat Stains with Spot Cleaner

If there are any visible stains remaining on your couch, you’ll want to spot treat these accordingly. A wine stain is different from a coffee stain, which is different from a grease stain.

Not to fret: just check out our full guide on how to remove different stains »

7. Allow Your Couch to Air Dry

Time to sit back and relax (but not on your couch) while you wait for it to dry. Adding some air flow with a fan and/or open windows will help it dry faster.
Once the surface is dry to the touch, you should be good to go. 12-24 hours should be enough time to dry out your couch completely, but give it longer if the fabric is still damp.

8. Spray with White Vinegar

As a final deodorizing and sanitizing touch, we’re turning to vinegar. Make a 50/50 white vinegar and water solution in a spray bottle and then spray every surface of your couch and cushions from a foot or so away.

Allow the couch to dry (it shouldn’t take too long) before moving on to the final step.

9. Replace Cushions

Your cushion covers should be done in the wash and dry. If they still have stains, see our guide for stain removal here. Put the covers back on your cushions, and voila! You’re done.

Congratulations, you just deep cleaned your couch! Now you can kick up your feet, turn on Netflix and relax after a job well done.

Unless, of course, the rest of your house still needs to be cleaned. If you’re too busy or just want to make sure your house gets properly cleaned (or if you’d rather binge watch your favorite show than scrub the bathroom floor), you can hire a professional house cleaner.

If you do decide to dig in and do it yourself, though, then at the very least check out our guide of genius housecleaning hacks that will save you time and money »