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How to Clean Couch Cushions No Matter What Fabric They Are — Easy Pro Tricks

Deep cleaning specialist gives her top tips

When you think about it, cleaning couch cushions is kind of high stakes: Couches are really expensive — and big. Sure, you can flip over a dirty or stained cushion, but stain it again and you have no choice but to clean it. And if you don’t clean it properly, you could end up with noticeable fabric damage on top of the stain. Before you attempt to bring yours back to immaculate condition, we asked Elizabeth Drakopoulos, Deep Cleaning Specialist at Dirt Detective Cleaning, for her expert advice on how to clean couch cushions. Keep scrolling to learn more.

How to clean couch cushions of any kind

how to clean couch cushions: Young female housekeeping using spray cleaner cleaning house living room and sofa surface protect spread of covid-19

Beneath the couch cushions, you’ll find a care tag that has one of four letter symbols that will provide you basic guidance on how to clean couch cushions that you should defer to first and foremost:

  • ​​W = Wet/water cleaning only
  • S = Dry solvent cleaning only
  • SW = Dry solvent and/or wet cleaning
  • X = Professional cleaning or vacuuming only

“In general, you should use mild, pH-balanced detergents and avoid harsh chemicals,” explains Drakopoulos. If you don’t have commercial upholstery cleaner on hand, try one of these low-cost concoctions approved by Drakopoulos. But before using anything, “test a small, hidden area to check for any adverse reactions.”

How to clean leather couch cushion: Mix equal parts white vinegar and warm water. Vinegar’s acidic nature dissolves gross stuff like bacteria and stickiness. If you’re worried about the vinegar being drying to the leather, try warm water with a few drops of a mild dish soap like Dawn, which is the ultimate multitasker because of how efficiently it removes buildup.

Important to note: Excessive water can damage leather, so be extra careful before cleaning the cushions to wring your cloth out. Clean in circular motions. After it dries, apply leather conditioner, also in circular motions.

How to clean microfiber cushions: Mix equal parts rubbing alcohol and warm water. You can also put two tablespoons of laundry detergent and one tablespoon of fabric softener in a bucket of warm water. The surfactants and enzymes in the detergent break down any dirt or grime, while the softener makes it smell fresh (microfiber is extra durable, so it can handle this addition). Just dip a microfiber cloth in the solution, wring out any extra liquid and rub vigorously back and forth — microfiber can hold up to a little aggression. A soft bristle brush will work as well.

How to clean other couch cushion fabrics: Mix together some warm water with a few drops of baby laundry detergent or white vinegar. Both of these break down dirt and other things that linger on upholstery while still being diluted and gentle enough to work on fabrics like polyester, velvet and cotton. For polyester and cotton: Blot with a damp cloth (don’t rub) to prevent pilling. For velvet: Use a damp cloth and avoid scrubbing so you don’t damage the structure of velvet’s unique nap.

How to deep-clean couch cushions

Step 1. Vacuum

how to clean couch cushions: vacuum cleaner house

First, Drakopoulos says, “vacuum the cushions with a brush attachment, removing all dirt and debris.” You’ll want to be gentle but thorough because you’re not just sucking up what you can see — you’re also getting rid of dust and dander. After, switch out the brush for a crevice attachment so you can vacuum along all the seams.

Step 2. Spot treat

Use any of the above methods to get out specific stains.

Step 3. Wash the cushions

For cushions or cushion covers that are not removable: Deep-cleans don’t necessarily require a professional, especially with machines like the Bissell Little Green Portable Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner (Buy on Amazon, $109.59) on the market. This is how you use them:

  • Read: Before your first use, make sure to read the directions so you don’t accidentally cause any damage.
  • Fill: The directions should tell you exactly how much water and commercial upholstery cleaner to add to the tank.
  • Test: Before you attack all of the cushions, Drakopoulos emphasizes the importance of testing the machine and solution on an inconspicuous area, such as the back of the couch.
  • Clean: Unless the instructions tell you otherwise, the most efficient way to clean is by working in sections, moving the nozzle in straight lines. Repeat until the water runs clean.

For removable cushion covers: If the cushion covers are removable, take them off, says Drakopoulos. Then, try her surprisingly easy way to clean cushion covers all at once: Place them in the bathtub! It cleans just as well as a washing machine, but ensures any delicate fabric won’t get damaged. Here’s her step-by-step:

  • Check the fabric first: What kind of upholstery do you have? Because of the way water can stain leather, you’ll want to avoid this method with it.
  • Fill the tub: Let the water run until the tub is ⅓ of the way filled and then add cleaner. Drakopoulos’s rule of thumb is 1-2 teaspoons of cleaner (based on her recommendations above per fabric) per quart of water.
  • Soak: Agitate the covers in the water, letting the solution clean deep within the fibers. Then, allow them to sit in the tub for 10-15 minutes. 
  • Rinse: Drain the solution, fill up ⅓ of the tub with clean water, and squeeze out the suds. Drain and repeat until the water runs clear.
  • Wring: By wringing out the cushions, you get all the excess water out so they can dry faster.

Step 4. Let them dry

Drakopoulos recommends allowing the upholstery to air-dry thoroughly, enlisting the help of a fan or open window to speed things up. If you removed the covers, make sure to let them air dry, putting them back on the cushions when they’re still slightly damp so they’ll dry to fit and standing the cushions up until they’re totally dry.

For more living room cleaning tips, click through the links below!

The Secret To Getting Rid Of Those Yellow Stains On Your Pillows

A Rug That You Just Toss in the Washing Machine? Yep — If It’s A Ruggable

How to Fix a Squeaky Floor: Home Pros Swear by This Surprise Baby Powder Trick

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