How to Steam Clean Couch (Ultimate Step by Step Guide)

Where do you spend most of your time when you’re at home? (Do not count your bed) Yeah, that’s right! Your living room, but more accurately, your couch. There’s nothing better than a comfy, cozy couch… No wonder is one the things at home that deteriorates the most over time! Not to mention how dirty it gets… dust, food, drink stains… Stop! If you leave it that way, no one will ever want to sit on your couch again! Not even you. Think about it… No more “Netflix and Chill”!

steam clean sofa

Cleaning a couch may seem complicated, since they usually have a great structure, but it is not impossible. One of the best methods to clean them is with steam. With this trick, you will get your couch cleaned in a quick and efficient way.

So, if you’re tired of having a dirty couch and determined to keep your couch looking brand new, then this article is just for you!

But before we continue, please note that, if you find it too complicated or the upholstery of your couch is very delicate, we recommend you consult a professional dry cleaner before applying any products on your couch as they could damage it forever.

How often do I need to clean my couch?

The answer is… it’s actually up to you.

Speaking in general terms, a couch will need a deep clean every 1 or 2 years depending on the use. But take a look at your furniture around the house. Usually, some of them are more used than others just because of where they are in the house. A couch in a high-traffic area will probably get dirty faster than others in a room that is rarely used. But less used furniture also tend to accumulate dust without us even noticing it… so as I said, it’s really up to you.

In the end, having a clean couch means having a clean home. If you vacuum your couch regularly and remove the stains before they dry, then a porfessional deep clean won’t be needed that often…

clean the sofa

Why is Steam Cleaning the best option?

Steam Cleaning is know to be one of the easiest and eco-friendly options when trying to remove stains from almost any kind of surface.

Did you know that Steam Cleaners no only remove dirt, food, grease and dust, but also sanitize whatever you’re cleaning by exterminating any type of mold, mildew, and germs? And they mostly use hot water to do so!

steam sofa cleaning

Here are some of the benefits of steam cleaning your couch:

– Havinig a dirt-free and stain-free couch

– No more thinking about health issues! Your couch will be completely sanitized and hygienic.

– Recover the original color and shine to make it look brand new!

What else can you ask for?!

Which Upholstery Steam Cleaner is Best for my Couch?

Here you have a whole world to choose from depending on the criteria you choose: price, settings, portability, etc… You can also decide between renting an upholstery steam cleaner or buying one. I would recommend renting one if you won’t be using it at least twice a year. If you decide to go for the buying option, here are some tips and recommendations.

Buying an Upholstery Steam Cleaner can be a bit overwhelming. Too many things to take into account. I’ll be honest with you… Upholstery Steam Cleaners may not be what you’re looking for. How can that be, you ask?

Upholstery Steam Cleaners were created to tackle smaller surfaces without needing a big “difficult-to-handle” machine. So manufacturers focused on creating a smaller steamer which would save space and time. And by doing so, they left behind some features which we belive are crucial when making such an investment. For example, their drying capacity, or having different steam levels… these may seem irrelevant but actually make the difference between having to clean your couch more often or not.

That’s why we prefer portable carpet cleaners. Even though they’re not specialized for upholstery. They usually have all the features needed and they’re also portable. Not to mention, you’ll be able to deep clean other things as well, such as your carpets, rugs and clothes! Not bad for the investment you’re about to make. Cause this machines ain’t cheap, let’s make the most out of them! In the end, whatever you end up buying should be easy to use and remove the most dirt as possible.

Steam Cleaning your Couch: Step by Step

1. Look for the care instructions for the fabric.

This step will safe you from trouble! If you don’t find it, try calling the couch manufacturer, writing an email or looking at their website. The care tag will tell you everything you need to know to avoid damaging the upholstery of your couch.

If you have trouble deciphering what it means, here you have a great cheatsheet!

fabric care instructions

2. Prepare your Portable Steam Cleaner.

All steam cleaners tend to work the same way but it may vary, so read the instructions before doing anything, and follow the directions.

Doing this step before anything else will save you time, as the water will warm up while you go through Step 3.

Here you have some recommendations:

– You’ll need detach and fill the water container with a mixture of warm water and upholstery cleaner. Just don’t fill it too much, because this can cause the machine to release too much water and steam.

– Check which attachment will work better woth your upholstery. It can be a cloth, a stationary brush or revolving brush… it all depends on the model you have.

– Plug it and turn it on. Let it water fully warm up. Before using the steam cleaner on the couch, let the initial bursts of water and steam fall into a bucket or a sink until all the excess of water has run off.

3. Prepare your Couch for Steam Cleaning (pre-treat the stains!)

To prepare you couch for steam cleaning you will need:

– Vacuum cleaner

– Clean microfiber cloth

– Brush

– Special upholstery stain remover (depending on the fabric of your couch)

With all these products, you will be able to remove any stains and get your sofa ready for a deep clean.

First, move the couch away from any wall or furniture. Use a vacuum cleaner to clean the dust and mites your upholstery might have. Remove all cushions and accessories. Vacuum thoroughly through all the sofa, including grooves and hidden corners. Do the same with the cushions, pillows and accessories. Be patient!

Once you’ve vacuumed the whole couch, it will be much easier for you to detect any stain. To get rid of them, we recommend using a stain remover. As we said earlier, oyu must be careful and choose the one that fits best with the fabric of your couch. Place the product on the stain and let it stand for a few minutes. Lastly, remove it by rubbing gently with the a clean cloth from the outside to the center to avoid spreading the stain.



Always, always, always, (even if you think you’re completely sure) try applying the stain remover on a small hidden area of the couch. This way you’ll test the color-fastness of the fabric and if it damages it or not.

Here you have some recomendations for stain removers (if you want to see more options here you have the Best Stain Removers for 2022). Remember to go always for the eco-friendly, non-toxic cleaner to avoid allergies, and protect your kids and pets.

4. Now it’s time to steam!

Now comes the real deal!

If your steam cleaner comes with automatic heat settings then you don’t have a choice but if you can change the settings, then choose the best option for your couch. Sometimes manufacturer’s recommend the best steam pressure for the each type of upholstery.



When in doubt, start using lower heat settings to see how it works to avoid damaging the fabric.

Attach the cleaning tool you think is best to the steam gun and start steaming one section at a time! Our recommendation is to do it in slightly overlapped strokes and to start with the cushions and pillows. Use a towel and place them on the floor separated from the couch frame.

Gently allow the steam to touch and penetrate the fabric, and inmediately after, suck up the remaining moisture. Repear this process as many times you need. Sometimes, dirty spots and stains take more time than others…



Go one small area at a time because if you don’t, the steam in the area you started will get all soaked up by the fabric while you continue to apply steam to other areas and it’ll be harder to dry later on, increasing the risk of mold and mildew.



Remember to change the cloth frequently, as they usually have a maximum amount of dirt they can absorb. You don’t want to work for nothing…

5. Patience is key: you have to let it dry!

This step doesn’t need much explanation. Just let the couch near a place where it can air dry. If you want to speed up this step then use a fan or a blow dryer.



Don’t expose the couch into direct sunlight. It can damage it and cause discolouration.

6. The finishing touch: take all the bacteria and odors away!

It’s not necesary but… if you want your couch to look extra-clean you can always do the following:

– Vacuum it again to remove any dirt or dust left

– If you think it still smells a bit weird, sprinkle baking soda all over the couch and let it sit for at least 1 hour. Then, vacuum again the whole couch thoroughly.

Is steam cleaning good for all types of fabrics?

I know I’ve said this many times but… I can’t say it enough. Please, review the manufacturer’s instructions first.


clean leather sofa

Leather furniture on the contrary to what some people assume, needs to be maintained just like any other furniture fabric. It requieres softer cleaners and specific techniques to keep them looking great.

a) To remove stains:

As always, to choose the right leather cleaner look for the care instructions that came with your couch. If you can’t find them, do not trust even the cleaners specifically marked for leather.

Use a soft cloth to apply the leather cleaner and stroke it softly to avoid ruining the leather. Then, damp another clean cloth and use it to “rinse” the soap. Finally, used a dry cloth to dry the treated area.



A leather cleaner shouldn’t have amonia or alkaline-based solutions.

b) To bring back the brightness:

You can apply leather conditioner to restore the natural oils. This will also keep it clean for a longer period of time.


CAUTION! Don’t use a leather conditioner that contains wax or silicone.


steam clean suede sofa

The best solution on how to clean a soude couch is to vacuum it regularly, and remove the covers to wash them regularly.

To clean stains you can use a suede brush or a polish cloth, dipp it in white vinegar or alcohol and rub the stain in a criss-cros manner. Never use strong cleaners as they coud ruin your couch!

a) If your couch is brand new, you can also use a protective spray. They are not as useful as they say they are but it still helps preventing permanent spills.

b) If you have an older couch, then you’ll need to use a cleaning solution but with not too much water as it could ruin the suede.

And the last tip… suede shoe cleaner! You might think its crazy but it really comes in handy when nothing else works!


fabric sofa cleaning

Here’s a homemade cleaning solution to clean up stains: use a light-coloured microfiber cloth and 2 cups of distilled water, 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap and another one of white vinegar. Dab it gently on th stain, don’t rub it. Then moist a clean microfiber cloth with some water and remove the remaining moisture. Lastly, use a fan or a hair dryer to completely dry the area treated.


Never use soap water to clean a microfiber couch, it could very much damage it. If you don’t find the care instructions tag, always use a solvent-based cleaner just in case, such as alcohol.

Alcohol is, indeed, a great choice to clean a microfiber couch. Use a sponge to apply the cleaning solution and once it dryes use a scrub brush to soften the upholstery, as microfiber tends to get a bit stiff after its cleaned.


velvet sofa cleaning

This isn’t a cleaning tip but who cares… We’re here to help you keep your couch brand new! So, if you have a velvet couch, try avoiding direct sunlight, as it coud make the color fade away.

To keep it clean all year long, regular vacuuming is very much needed. And brushing it a few times a year with a soft brush will loosen a nd brush away all the surface dirt.

For dryed stains, try using any kind of cleaning product based on the care instructions, on a hiddden area of the couch to see if it works well or damages the fabric. If it works, use a soft cloth and blot (never scrub!) it to remove the stain. Let it dry and dry brush.

Any stains left? Try this!



This may seem dull, but they have a mild-cleaning solution that will rarely damage your couch. And they usually work well in any kind of upholstery!

Almost all stains will respond will to steam cleaning, but other more stubborn ones may require more effort. if the stain doesn’t go away, try repeating the process a second time.

If its an oil-based stain you will probably need a chemical-based cleaning solution.

In the end, if nothing works, you can always hire a professional cleaner to do it for you.


Too much water can leave stains and cause fabric shrinkage

How much does a professional couch steam cleaner cost?

Whether it’s because you haven’t been able to clean it at home or it is too big to DIY, professional upholstery cleaning is always a good choice.

Furniture upholstery can be more delicate and more expensive than carpets and they usually have bright colors that can easily get ruined. Professional cleaners will mostly use steam cleaning or dry-cleaning methods depending on the fabric and care instructions.

The cost will vary depending on the size of the couch and the type and condition of fabric. Here are some estimates:

– Armchairs and recliners: from $30 to $60

– Small couch: from $70 to $100

– Large couch: from $100 to $150 (depending n the number of sections)

In the end, any extra money you spend will be worth it, as a couch is a place where we want to feel comfortable and relaxed.



When you’re buying a new couch, you can ask the retailer to get your couch pre-treated, to protect if from future stains.


As a final note, remember that the more time you take to steam clean your couch will pay off with better results. It all depends h¡on how much you want to deep clean or how much does the couch needs it.

Everybody knows that deep cleaning your couch regularly can extend its life much more than you can image. What we recommend is the following:

– Deep clean you couch every year or 18 moths maximum.

– Vacuum it regularly (every two weeks or so)

– Clean the stains right away (blot the stains to avoid spreading them and damaging the fabric)

And last but not least, keep in mind that your couch may be still under warranty so make sure to clean your couch accordingly to the care instructions tag so that it doesn’t invalidate the warranty.

That’s it for today!

sofa after steam cleaning

May you have an everlasting clean couch where everyone will want to sit!

Nancy Adams

I am a fan of home decor, I devote all my free time to this activity. One of the most important components of home comfort is carpets & rugs and at the same time, it is one of the poorly covered topics on the Internet. Therefore, I decided to share my experience and knowledge in this niche.

Recent Posts