How To Steam Clean a Couch: A Professional’s ‘Secret’ Guide to Reviving Your Old Couch

how to steam clean a couch

A clean couch is essential for creating a cozy and inviting home. Over time, dirt and grime build-up can dull the appearance of even the best-looking upholstery. Instead of investing in a new couch, consider using a steam cleaner to bring it back to life.

Steam cleaning can seem daunting at first, but with the right guidance, it can be a simple and effective process. Here, we provide a step-by-step guide to help you maintain your fabric and microfiber couches. With this information, you'll be able to keep your couch looking and feeling like new for years to come.

Remember, your couch is an important part of your home, and it's worth taking the time to care for it properly. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a first-time cleaner, our guide will make steam cleaning your couch a breeze.

Preparing the Upholstery

Inspect Labels

Before you dive into cleaning your furniture, make sure to give it a good inspection first. Different surfaces like microfiber and leather may call for different cleaning approaches based on how dirty they are.

But the most crucial thing to keep an eye out for is the label on your piece of furniture. It'll have a letter that tells you what type of cleaner you can use without damaging the delicate upholstery.

Here's a quick rundown of the symbols you might see:

  • W: Clean with water only
  • S: A solvent-based cleaner is preferred
  • WS: Either water or solvent-based cleaner will cut it
  • X: Just give it a good vacuum and you’re good to go

Vacuum The Upholstery

Alright, let's get started with cleaning your upholstery! The first step is to give it a good sweep with a foxtail brush to get rid of any large debris. Then, use the vacuum to get rid of any dirt, dust, and other pesky particles that might be hanging around.

If these get wet during the cleaning process, they’ll end up making your couch worse than before. So, step 1, get rid of these.

Take your time and make sure you get into every nook and cranny. If your furniture has pillows, remove them and give each side a good vacuum. And don't forget the back of the furniture - we want to make sure every last sizeable crumb and piece of dirt is gone before we start the real cleaning process.

Can’t get rid of the stuck-on crumbs? No worries! Give them a gentle rub with a damp cloth, and they should come loose in no time. Once loose, just pick them up.

You can use the same procedure before you head on to steam clean your car interior too. Removing these chunks will make steaming less of a hassle and more efficient.

Tip: Different types of upholstery call for different types of attachments. You don’t want to risk damaging or staining the fabric with the wrong attachment. Make sure to use the right one.

Pre-treat The Stains

Now your couch is almost prepped to face the steam. Almost.

If you've got any urine or pet stains, you can usually just leave those for the steamer. But, if you've got any oil-based stains or other non-organic spills, they're going to need a little extra love. We’ll need to pre-treat them before we get steaming!

Let’s begin with the easy ones. The first step is to give them a quick spray with a spot upholstery cleaner.

Let the cleaner work its magic for a good 3-5 minutes to break up the stain (depending on the cleaner you use). Then, take a soft cloth and gently blot the area. This should help pull out the stain and dry up the cleaner. 

Tip: Market upholstery cleaners can get a bit pricey but don’t worry, you can attempt at making an alternative solution. Fill up your spray bottle with warm water, add a teaspoon of dish soap, give it a good shake, and then spray it on the stain. Let it sit for at least an hour and it'll be ready for the steam cleaner.

How to Treat Old or Set-In Stains

Speaking of those stubborn stains that you now seemed to have accepted as the texture of your couch. Your dish soap won’t cut it. This set-in stain will require special measures.

There are two roads you can go down from here.

Spare yourself the hassle and purchase a commercial cleaner like Oxy Clean to get out the stain.

However, if DIY is your thing, then grab cornstarch and baking soda. Mix it with some water and store it in a spray bottle.

Spray some of the solution on the stain and make it wet. Blot the excess with a clean cloth and let the solution sit for a bit more than 1 hour.

Once done wipe the stain away and bring out the steamer.

Pre-Condition The Fabric

When we sit on the sofa, the weight of our bodies and our small movements grind in the dirt, making it difficult to clean. To allow the steam cleaner to work at peak efficiency, use a soil emulsifier to bring all that grime back to the surface. Treating your couch with an emulsifier makes the steam cleaner much more effective.

You know how when you plop down on the couch, with the help of your weight, all that dirt and grime just gets ground into the couch.

There are special products called soil emulsifiers that can help loosen all the dirt, dust, and grit that's been ground deep into the fabric.

Simply spray it on all the upholstery and pillows, let it sit for a few minutes, then follow up with a thin layer of upholstery shampoo.

Brush the fabric, making sure to work the shampoo in, then don't worry about rinsing it off - it'll come out during the steam cleaning process.

Tip: While you’re at it, don’t forget to send the covers and blankets through a wash cycle.

Choosing A Good Steam Cleaner

Well, you’ve got your fabric ready for cleaning, how difficult it be to find a steam cleaner? If you know what to look for, it’ll be done in a snap.

When it comes to steam cleaning your couch, not just any steam cleaner will do. You want to choose a cleaner specifically designed for upholstery or fabric, or even better, a handheld steam cleaner that can reach all the tight spots.

We know how tempting it is to buy one of those bulky carpet steam cleaners. But unfortunately, they won't be able to give your couch the deep clean it deserves.

Instead, opt for a compact and portable steam cleaner with an upholstery attachment and hose. This way, you'll be able to effortlessly clean every corner of your couch, including those hard-to-reach areas under the cushions.

Prepare the Machine for Cleaning

Okay, let's get our steam cleaner ready to go! First things first, we need to add water and some cleaner to the machine. Depending on the model you have, this might be a bit different, so be sure to check the instructions that came with it. 

Typically, you'll remove a container from the steam cleaner and fill it with a mixture of warm water and upholstery cleaner.

You have a choice - use a professional cleaning solution or whip up your own DIY steam cleaner for your couch. Either way, grab a funnel to pour in the liquids and avoid any mess.

Just make sure you don't overfill it - too much water and steam could make your fabrics way too wet. And don't forget to add the right attachment for upholstery cleaning. This could be a brush, a cloth, or something else again it would depend on your specific model.

Where to Begin Cleaning

On to the big question, “how and where do I start?”. Well here’s where:

Start with the cushions

Always tackle the cushions first, to make sure any dirt or grime doesn't transfer to your freshly cleaned couch.

Start by focusing on the exposed sides. Use the handheld steam cleaner to blast one side of the cushion with steam and then move the suction nozzle over it to extract dirt and water.

One side at a time is the way to go, as you don't want to leave a damp cushion lying on the couch - it'll take forever to dry and could damage the fabric.

Steam Clean the Large Parts

Once the cushions are clean and dry, it’s time to move on to the main part of the process – yup, cleaning the couch itself. Now it’s very important that you don’t just rush through the motions of this next step.

A good steam clean takes time. Take your time, move slowly, and let the steam do its job of pulling out stains & dirt.

Now it can feel convenient to take on a large area at once and get done with the couch cleaning quickly, but, if you were to steam a large area in one go, the water will settle on the couch frame.

Before you know it, it’ll set-in and you won’t be able to suction it out with the cleaner.

Hence, stick to small areas and take them one by one. Start at the top of our sofa and slowly work your way down to the bottom.

Repeat until the couch is completely spotless.

Let your furniture dry

Time to give your furniture some breathing room! After a thorough steam cleaning, it's important to let your furniture dry completely. How long this takes will depend on the humidity of the steam you used and the current weather conditions, but no need to worry - you can speed up the process by turning on a fan, opening a window, or even giving it a blast with a blow dryer. With a little patience, your furniture will be dry and refreshed in no time!


Is Buying A Steam Cleaner Worth It?

Absolutely! If you're someone who loves to keep your home spotless, and cozy, and likes to go on cleaning sprees every other week then investing in a steam cleaner is definitely worth it.

With a steam cleaner, you have the power to deep clean your carpets, upholstery, and hard floors but it's important to consider the time and effort it takes to properly use it.

Is there an alternative? Luckily, yes. 

What Are The Alternatives?

Now if cleaning is an activity that takes place once in a while for you, going out and buying a steam cleaner yourself just might not be the right decision to make.

Considering the hassle and time it takes to find the right machine to prepare the upholstery, missing tough stains, and concocting a plethora of DIY solutions like a wizard, steam cleaning can be a long and tiring process.

You should consider hiring a professional cleaning service. It’ll save you time, and energy, and provide you with a better cleaning experience.

With professional cleaners, you don't have to worry about finding the right cleaning solution or the right attachments. They bring their own equipment and supplies, and they have the expertise to tackle even the toughest stains.

Plus, you can sit back, relax, and let the pros handle the cleaning for you.

In conclusion, how you go about steam cleaning your couch is a choice you need to make based on your situation. In the case that you do choose to hire a professional to do the job, we’d be happy to help you out. Until then, Adios!

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