How To Clean Sofa Cushions

Like our pillows, our sofa cushions are things we can easily take for granted. We rest our heads on them when we need a nap, clutch them like a security blanket during a horror film and throw them at the kids when they are being too noisy. They suffer spills and tears and grease and stains. Fortunately, it is possible to restore them to their former glory and make them bright and beautiful once more. So, here’s how.


It’s important to know the material your cushion covers are made of and what their filling is. Even then, it’s vital to check the label for instructions as to the best and safest way to clean them. Fabric covers can be made of a mixture of differing materials and each of them has their own best practices when it comes to restoring their brightness and cleaning their contents. Often, there are cleaning instructions on the tag, though these are sometimes coded. Common codes include ‘W’ for water-based cleaning, ‘S’ for solvent cleaning, ‘WS’ for water or solvent cleaning and ‘X’ for professional cleaning only.


Whatever the material of your cushions, the first step is always to vacuum them to get rid of the nasties, such as dust mites, pet hair, crumbs and the like. The upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner will get rid of the surface dust and dirt, but be sure to clean in any folds or crevices.


Spills and stains should preferably be dealt with at the time. Blot the area with a clean, dry cloth to absorb as much of the liquid as possible, but avoid rubbing it as this spreads the stain and pushes it further into the fabric. If the fabric is water safe, mix a mild soap with some warm water, dampen a cloth in the solution and test it on a small portion of fabric to check the colour is not affected. Then blot the stained area gently. Removable covers with a ‘W’ or ‘WS’ label may be machine washable, but always check the label.

If spot cleaning this way isn’t sufficient, deep cleaning may be necessary. Upholstery cleaning machines and carpet cleaners with upholstery attachments can inject a solution into the fabric and then extract it, removing the stain. Leather cushions require a pH-balanced leather cleaner and conditioner.

Drying cushions after this kind of treatment can take from a few hours to a few days. But it’s important to ensure thorough drying to avoid mildew.


Deep cleaning your cushions now and then is great. But regular vacuuming and prompt treatment of stains will keep your cushions in the best condition. Using easily removable slip covers for extra protection is also advised.


Caring for your cushions is not hard, but it does need to be done regularly and with an awareness of the materials and fillings that have been used and paying close attention to any manufacturer’s cleaning instructions provided.