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How To Clean A Used Couch

While finding a high-end second-hand sofa at a bargain is fantastic, you’ll benefit from knowing how to clean a used couch. Sofas are the ideal home for bugs and bacteria. So, it’s best to give that new addition to your living room a thorough clean before bringing it into your home.

Cleaning a used couch is easy and can be accomplished utilizing items you likely have around the house. You’ll want to vacuum and spray it with pesticide before bringing it indoors. But if you can do all the cleaning outside, that’s even better. A vinegar and dishwashing liquid solution is effective against stains. And baking soda will do wonders for odor control.

However, it’s crucial to properly apply these natural and mild cleaning agents for optimal results. This is why we’ve compiled a step-by-step guide to help you get that shabby old couch to showroom floor new again.

The methods explained below will also be helpful for stains and odors on your existing sofa caused by children and pets. Because let’s face it, accidents do happen.

Tips on How to Clean a Used Couch

Supplies Needed

You’ll need the following items to get that rough gem looking shiny and new again. 

  • Gloves
  • Non-Toxic Odorless Pesticide
  • Vacuum Cleaner with a Brush and Nozzle attachment
  • Baking Soda
  • Mild Dishwashing Liquid
  • Vinegar
  • Empty Spray Bottle
  • Soft-Bristled Brush

Once you’ve gathered these items, it’s time to get stuck into cleaning your used couch. We advise that you wear your protective gloves throughout the process.

Leave Your Used Couch Outdoors

Letting your thrift store treasure air outdoors before bringing it into the house is advisable. In fact, you should also vacuum and spray the couch outside before introducing it to the rest of the sofa family. 

Leaving it outside in the sunlight allows the couch to air. And it lets the UV rays kill off any bacteria present. Vacuuming and spraying outside reduces the chances of you inhaling and spreading potentially harmful dust particles and pesticide fumes indoors.

Spray with Pesticide

The first thing you should do when the couch arrives at your home is to spray it with non-toxic, odorless bug spray. Give it a thorough spray in and around the cushions, corners, arms, back, and under the couch. Make sure you don’t miss a spot.

Then, let your prized purchase stand outdoors in the sun for a day. In fact, 24 hours is a reasonable amount of time to leave it airing after spraying. This will eliminate any small bugs or bacteria that could be residing in the sofa.

Give it a Thorough Vacuum

After you’ve let the couch stand outdoors for 24 hours, it’s time to vacuum. If you have a handheld vacuum cleaner, this is a great time to use it. Otherwise, using your standard vacuum cleaner with an extension cable works perfectly.

Vacuum the upholstery with the brush attachment to lift and remove dust and particles on the fabric. Then switch to the precision nozzle to get those crumbs and bits accumulated in the corners and folds.

Prep Before Cleaning

Before diving into cleaning, it’s essential to check how the upholstery is meant to be cleaned. Some fabrics can withstand cleaning with solvent-based cleaning agents, while others must be dry cleaned. Knowing the correct cleaning agents to use will help maintain the upholstery’s integrity.

To determine what is best for your couch, locate the tag, which is usually at the back of the couch. The tag will provide you with information regarding how to clean the upholstery. 

Remove Stains

You’ll find that most upholstery can be washed with a water-based solution. This is why we will focus on this type of upholstery to remove stains. And you can make your own upholstery cleaner for stain removal with a few simple ingredients.

Simply add 1 tablespoon of mild dishwashing liquid and a ¼  cup of white vinegar to 1 cup of warm water. And place the mixture in an empty, clean spray bottle.

Spray your solution on the stained areas of the fabric. But be careful not to saturate the area. If the stained section of fabric becomes too wet, it could cause the stain to spread.

Next, grab your soft-bristled brush and give each stained area a light brushing. The idea is to get your cleaner into the fibers and lift the dirt out. After brushing, you can blot the affected areas with a clean and slightly damp cloth. Allow the upholstery to dry, and then give the couch another vacuum.

Should there still be stains visible, you can try using a foam-based upholstery cleaner to remove them. Each cleaner is different, so you’ll need to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. If the stain persists after trying the upholstery cleaner, you’ll, unfortunately, have to take the couch to a professional cleaner.

Remove Bad Odors

Getting rid of horrible odors is easier than you might think. All you need is a soft-bristled brush, baking soda, and a vacuum cleaner.

Sprinkle your baking soda generously over the upholstery, making sure to cover as much of the fabric as possible. Then use your soft-bristled brush to spread the baking soda evening over the couch.

Allow the baking soda to sit for 3 to 4 hours without disturbing it. The baking soda will draw any moisture or particles present in the fabric that could be causing the smell. After 3 to 4 hours have passed, give the fabric a thorough vacuum to remove all the baking soda. 

If the smell persists, you could opt to hire a steam cleaner. The heat emitted by a steamer will aid in removing stains and odors and leave your upholstery looking and smelling fresh. Steamers can also eliminate bacteria and some microscopic bugs that often make their home in fabric.

How to Clean a Used Leather Couch

If your preloved couch happens to be leather, you can still employ much of the same approach. However, you’ll have to eliminate some things that would be harmful to leather.

With a leather couch, you’d start by vacuuming with the precision nozzle, lifting the dust and crumbs from the crevices. 

Then, if there are stains present, you can tackle them with a little warm water and dishwashing liquid. Simply rub some of the solution onto the stained area with a clean microfiber cloth. And then dab it off with a second clean cloth.

Should the leather upholstery have an oil stain, you can use a light sprinkling of baking soda. Allow the baking soda stand for a 2 to 3 hours, then remove it with a clean, dry cloth.


It isn’t hard to clean a used couch, as you can see. In fact, it’s relatively simple. Granted, there is some elbow grease and time involved, but the results will be well worth it. 

Maintaining your couch is just as easy. To keep the upholstery in tip-top condition, you should vacuum it thoroughly at least once per week. Covering your couch with a couch cover or blanket will also increase the life span of your upholstery exponentially.

With this information and the right tools at your disposal, you’ll have squeaky clean couches for years to come.

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