DIY Cleaning Tips to Keep Your Sofa Looking Brand-New

Don't let pets, kids and red wine ruin your prized possession. We've got at-home cleaning solutions to keep your sofa looking good-as-new.

While getting your couch cleaned by an upholstery cleaner is sometimes necessary, there are actually quite a few things you can do on your own before calling in the big-gun professionals.

Transitional Open Plan Kitchen and Living Area With Blue Sofa

Transitional Open Plan Kitchen and Living Area With Blue Sofa

Varying shades of blue create a peaceful setting for this transitional open concept kitchen and living area. A gorgeous royal blue sofa anchors the living room space.

Photo by: Tobi Fairley

Tobi Fairley

Remember that whenever you're using any kind of cleaning solution (even one you think will be totally safe!), it’s always best to test it out first on a small, hidden area of your couch just to be safe. Here are some of our favorite at-home DIY couch cleaning solutions:


Many vacuum cleaners these days now come with upholstery attachments that make vacuuming your couch a breeze. You’ll want to remove all of your cushions first, then make sure to get deep into every crevice and corner of your couch with the vacuum. It’s easy for crumbs, dirt and pet hair to get stuck in there, so it’s important to clean it out often.

If you don’t have an upholstery cleaner attachment for your vacuum, a smaller hand-held vacuum will work well, too.

Lint Roller

If your couch is made from a fabric the easily attracts lint, hair or dust, you should keep a lint roller on hand that you can exclusively use for your couch. This works best for a couch that only requires a light amount of de-linting, but it can work for larger jobs, too. In a pinch, I've even used large pieces of packing tape to de-puppify the hair on my couch.

Cleaning Codes

Did you know that all couches have a secret code on the tag that will tell you how it should be cleaned? Find the fabric tag on your couch to see what will work best.

W — Use a water-based detergent.

S — Your couch should be dry cleaned or cleaned with a water-free detergent.

WS — Your couch should be cleaned with a water-based cleaner or dry cleaned.

O — Your couch is made from organic and/or natural fibers and should be washed in cold water.

X — You can only have it cleaned by a professional upholstery cleaner.

Make sure you keep these rules in mind when you're searching for a good cleaning agent solution for your couch. Get more on the letters and what they mean here.

Leather Soap + Conditioner

If you have a leather couch, leather soap and conditioner is something you can use to keep it looking clean and fresh. I also use a slightly damp, clean rag to wipe off my leather furniture about once a week. See below for some additional leather-specific product recommendations.


If your couch is made of a fabric that can be cleaned with a water-based cleaner, try using steam to loosen up dirt and stains.

Try This: Grab your iron, put it on the "steam" setting, and wave it back and forth across any trouble spots on your couch.

Spot Clean

For spot-cleaning, you’ll have to make sure you're using the right solution for the fabric. (Again, check the codes on your fabric tag!) However, even for fabrics that can handle a variety of cleaners, it's sometimes best to start off with a clean rag and some simple dish soap when tackling a stain. Blotting (rather than wiping) seems to be a technique that most people favor when it comes to spot-cleaning, too.

Another important thing to remember is that some stubborn stains might actually take two or three passes before they completely come out. So even if you’re not seeing immediate results, keep going. Let your spot dry completely, then try again.

Go-To Cleaners

Here are some common go-to cleaners I found that might work on your upholstery.

Dryel Dryer Wipes — At-home dry cleaner products are a good choice if your fabric is marked "S" or "W/S".

Tuff Stuff — This can be used with vinyl or fabric upholstery.

Zep Cleaner — This is great for leather furniture.

Folex — Jenny from The Little Green Notebook has had lots of luck with this solution.

Baking Soda — Try baking soda for a more natural solution.

Wine Away — For red wine stains, this is my go-to.

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