How To Steam Clean Couch, Sofa And Upholstery Like A Pro?

how to steam clean couch and upholstery

After a long and tiring day, there’s no better place to relax than your cushy couch. However, over time, your beloved couch can also take a battering, whether it’s due to your kids jumping up and down on it, stains from your pets or a few drink spills during a fun evening with your friends.

If your couch has gotten dirty, its time for some deep cleaning, and steam cleaning is the best method for that. Its easy, fast, and, most importantly-removes every little dirt, stain, and grime. 

Through this article, we provide you with everything you need to know about how to steam clean your couch.

Bonus Tip!

We will also show you a step by step process of cleaning your couch or upholstery without using any steam cleaner.

How To Steam Clean Your Couch And Upholstery?

The Preparation:

Most people forget that preparation is key and just start steaming. However, if you want to make the most out of steam cleaning, you have to prepare before starting the process.

Check Compatibility First :

The first thing you need to do is making sure your couch is compatible with steaming. Therefore, you need to check the cleaning codes of your couch. This info will be available on your couch’s tag as cleaning codes.

  • If your couch comes with an S tag, it means that solvent-based cleaners or mild water-free cleaner will be most effective and not steam cleaning
  • A W cleaning code indicates that, you can use a water based cleaner like an upholstery steam cleaner. But, never use ordinary tap water that contain minerals.
  • If your couch bears an X cleaning code, water can damage the item’s material, and as such, it’s not appropriate
    with steam cleaning
  • If your couch comes with SW code means, you can use both wet and dry cleaners on your couch or sofa.

Pro Tips: It’s recommended that you carry out a spot test at a less visible part of your couch before steam cleaning the entire upholstery.

Things You Need To Get Started:

After the preparation process, you’ll have to gather and organize all the necessary tools. This will prevent you from stopping halfway through your cleaning process and getting the tool. 

Requirements depend on your tasks, but some essentials for steam cleaning include:

  • Your Steam Cleaner
  • Some microfiber cloths
  • A dry sponge
  • Stain removal product (optional)
  • A bowl or bucket of tap water and liquid soap
  • Disposable hand gloves

Vacuum The Couch First:

Before you start steaming, it’s essential that you vacuum your upholstery/couch as this will dilute and eliminate the loosened dirt particles lodged into the item’s fabric mesh. This is also going to speed up the cleaning process. Make sure that you vacuum every crevice and crack of your couch. You can use a upholstery crevice tool for a more efficient cleanup.

If there are pillows, remove them and vacuum each side properly. Eliminate every dirt, crumbs, or pet hair from your couch, which will otherwise create a problem during steam cleaning.

Pay special attention to the back and armrests of your cushion as they are a hot spot for leftovers.

You should vacuum at a high-power setting to eliminate as much dust as possible from your couch. Afterward, you can use your microfiber cloth to wipe clean the hard surface of your couch and eliminate all pollens and dust particles.

Pre-Treat Easy To Remove Stains:

After you’ve removed all the dust and pet hair, you can spot clean the easy stains with some soapy water and sponge. However, take the utmost precaution during this process.

Make sure you do a patch test first on a less visible area of your couch before spot cleaning more visible parts.

First, soak the stains with the sponge and let the solution sit for a few minutes and then rub the stain afterward. Don’t be too aggressive, or else you might damage your sofa.

Easy stains like coffee stains will come off easily, but oil-based stains will require a stain removal cleaner. If you have a stain removal product, apply it before you start steam cleaning.

After you’re done with this process, use the dry cloth to pat dry the area. It’s important that you remove as much water as possible.

Don’t Forget To Pre-Condition The Fabric:


We highly recommend to use a pair of disposable gloves to protect your skin. This will protect your hands from drying and cracking during the process.

Now it’s time to pre-condition your couch fabric so that it doesn’t become hard and gritty. You can use a soil emulsifier or a upholstery pre-conditioner to loosen all the embedded dirt and oil from the fabric.

Spray the conditioner or the soil emulsifier all over the couch. Let it sit for a few minutes and then apply a generous amount of fabric shampoo with a sprayer. Make sure that you brush the solution into the fabric.

Note: It’s recommended that you use a shampoo that specifically made for sofa/couch. Other than that, a mild carpet cleaner will do just fine.

However, it’s critical to know whether your couch is compatible with such chemicals. Make sure that you read the instructions carefully before using anything on your couch.

Step By Step Steam Cleaning Process:

Prepare Your Steam Cleaner:

Steam cleaners are very easy to use. The first thing you have to do is add water or cleaner depending on the requirements of your machine. In most cases, you’ll have to remove the water reservoir from your unit and fill it up with water or fabric cleaner. 

Refrain from adding too much as this will make your unit produce too much steam and water, which can, in turn, over saturate your couch fabric.

If your cleaner comes with special upholstery cleaning attachments, use it for steam cleaning your couch. After that, plug in your unit and wait for it to reach steam temperature. Depending on your unit, this can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 10 minutes. 

Pro Tips: We highly recommend to use a handheld steam cleaner as these machines are easy to use on your upholstery and take shorter time to heat up.

Steam Your Cushions First:

If your couch has pillows and cushions, start with them first. You can steam only one side of the pillow or cushion on show if you want to. If you want to steam both sides, wait for one side to dry up before you start on the next side.

Using swift strokes, spray the steam on the targeted area. Don’t hold your machine in the same area for a long time. If the area is particularly dirty, repeat the strokes multiple times over the area.

Continue With The Larger Parts:

Now, you can continue with the rest of your couch. During this process, it’s essential that you concentrate on a small area first before moving on to the next. This prevents water from soaking the fabric and causing damages. Make sure you remove the water the same way you did with the cushions and pillows.

If there are stains that are deeply set-in, repeat the cleaning process continuously.

Let It Dry Off:

After you’re done steaming, your couch will need some time to dry out. If you want to accelerate the drying process, you can take certain measures such as using a standing fan, opening some windows or you can even use a blow dryer.

If there is still some discoloration on your couch, you’ll have to steam it again, or you can use a spot cleaner. For a super-tidy look, you can vacuum the couch after its fully dry. Don’t forget to turn the cushions to the other side so that they’re fully fluffed up.

How To Remove Stubborn Stains From Your Couch?

remove tough stains from couch and sofa

Even after you’ve thoroughly cleaned up your couch, it’s possible for some deep stains to still remain; for this, you’ll need further treatments.

Home Remedy 1:

Things you need to get started:

  • Warm water
  • Tea spoon
  • Baking Soda
  • White Vinegar
  • A Clean soft piece of clothe
  • Washing-up liquid ( dish washing soap or detergent)

Step 1: Take 1 tea spoon of baking soda, vinegar, washing-up liquid and warm water and mix them together.

Step 2: Apply the mixture directly on to the spots that you want to remove. Let the mixer dry out for 8-10 minutes.

Step 3: Wipe the dry surface with a soft clean clothe to remove the residue. and you’re done.

Home Remedy 2:

For an effective home remedy, you can mix a cup of cool water and vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray the solution over the stain, let it sit for a few minutes. Afterward, use a kitchen paper and dab on the stain to remove the excess stain liquid from spreading.

If this doesn’t work, you can make spray vodka on the stain and sprinkle some baking soda. Let the solution sit for a couple of hours, and you can vacuum it afterward.

Invest in a commercial steam cleaner.

If none of the home remedies work, you’ll have to invest in a commercial stain remover. Make sure that the product is compatible with your couch. Generally, you don’t have to steam after using a stain remover; however, we recommend a little steaming to eliminate chemical residues.

How To Clean A Couch Without A Steam Cleaner?

how to clean a couch without a steam cleaner

If you don’t own a steam cleaner or don’t want to invest in one, here are some steps you can follow to clean your couch.

Step 1: Firstly, if you have pillows on your couch, remove the pillow covers and put them into your washing machine and use the gentle setting.

Step 2: For cleaning the rest of your sofa, you can prepare your own cleaning solution. A popular solution is combining 4 ounces of warm tap water to a quarter teaspoon of cleaning detergent. How much solution you’ll require depends on the size of your couch. Pour the solution into a spray bottle and shake it nicely.

Step 3: After that, spray the solution into areas that require cleaning. Soak the fabric really well and using a small toothbrush, clean the area with circular motions. Pay special attention to the sides of your couch as they
are hotspots for dirt and grime.

Step 4: After you’re done spraying the solution, use a wet damp cloth to wipe the sprayed areas to eliminate any soap residues. After that, leave it to dry off.

This is an easy and pocket-friendly method of cleaning your couch. However, remember that it can be time-consuming.

Final Words:

This concludes our expert advice on how to steam clean your couch. Professionals can be very expensive, but there’s no need for you to call one. If you follow the above-mentioned steps, your couch will be squeaky clean. 

Make sure you have all the necessary tools, prepare well, steam thoroughly, and let it dry off completely. After that, sip your cup of coffee and relax in your favorite couch.

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