by Staff Writer
It's the main piece of furniture in your living room, so you always want your sofa to look its best. But over time, couches can get a bit dingy. And if you have a party, or if you have kids and pets, then your sofa probably needs a cleaning. Choose your cleaning method based on the type of upholstery; the wrong kind of cleaner can cause the material on your sofa to shrink, fade, or become discolored.
Microfiber sofas: The tightly woven fibers keep a lot of dust and allergens out of your couch cushions; you'll still want to vacuum the surface and the corners with a vacuum and brush attachment. If you have pets who shed, you may need to use a sticky lint roller, too. Most spilled liquids will bead on the fabric, allowing you to quickly wipe them up before they stain the couch. This does not make your microfiber couch stain-proof, merely stain-resistant. If you do happen to get a spot or stain, read the care label found on your sofa. This will tell you if you can use a water-based solution or if you'll need a solvent cleaner. Whichever cleaner you use, be sure to test it in a hidden area first.
Water-based solution: If the care tag says "W" for water-based cleaner, then you can make a solution with a few drops of mild soap, like dishwashing liquid, in a bucket of warm water; add a few drop of vinegar or a pinch of baking soda to help remove odors. Dampen a clean rag in the solution and gently rub the surface of the material. When the couch is clean, go over it again with a rag dampened with clean water. Allow it to dry before sitting on it. If your cushion covers are removable, you might be able to launder them in a washing machine; check the care label to see.
Solvent cleaner: Water stains some microfiber, so if the care instructions say "S" for solvent-based cleaner, then you'll need to purchase upholstery cleaner. These are often sprays that you can apply directly to the upholstery. Spray in small areas, taking care not to soak the fabric, and then gently rub with a clean rag. Allow to dry.
Leather sofas: You'll need leather cleaners and conditioners. Before applying the cleaner, thoroughly vacuum the sofa. Only use cleaners on the areas that appear dirty, so you don't overdo it and damage the leather.
Leather cleaners: Saddle soap is one of the best cleaners for leather furniture. Follow the directions on the label and use clean rags to apply it. Wipe down the couch with a dry cloth after to make sure it dries quickly and the moisture doesn't cause damage.
Leather conditioners: You'll see wax-based leather conditioners for sale, and these work well for shining the leather and keeping it supple. If you're looking for an easy, cheaper alternative, try conditioning the leather with a bit of olive oil on a clean cloth. Gently rub it in circles to apply, then buff the leather with a dry cloth.
Fabric sofas: Upholstered fabric sofas should be vacuumed before you proceed with cleaning them. Remove the couch cushions and thoroughly remove all dust and dirt.
Most fabric upholstery can be cleaned with warm water and and a few squirts of mild dishwashing liquid. Always test an inconspicuous spot before you use the cleaner on the whole sofa. If you notice fading, discoloration, or shrinkage, don't proceed. However, if there is no damage to your test spot, you can proceed. Follow the same directions for the water-based cleaner on microsuede sofas.
If the care label says "Dry Clean Only," you will need to hire a professional to clean your sofa.