How to Clean Sofa Cushions

Are you looking for a way to clean your sofa cushions? I take it you are tired of all the dust and all the dirt that’s been building up ever since the lockdown started. Well, don’t you worry because I’m here to give you the easiest solution to your little problem right there? If you are allergic or you have someone in the house who is allergic or has hay fever then I definitely understand why you would want to rush this. 

Knowing that most services are closed and you can not hire people to do it for you are going to have to do it all on your own. I’m here to help you through it and in just a few minutes at most an hour, you’d have finished with your cushions. 

Now we all know that when you buy a sofa it can either come with its own cushions with the same material or it comes without meaning you will have to go and buy your own. So if it’s the first it is easy because you can look at the care label tag and figure out what you can and what you cannot do. However, if it is the latter then I am afraid we are going to have to figure it out. 

That’s why I am here so don’t worry yourself I will talk you through the process. So we have a variable when it comes to cushions. Some have removable covers in which case you just have to remove them and follow the wash instructions. Then we have the other cushions that’s do not have removable covers, it’s still the same process so don’t worry about it. 

Method (a)

Let’s look at the care labels first. If your sofa came with its own cushions then all you have to do is check on the care labels which I am going to show and explain at the bottom. Each material has a different cleaning method as instructed by the manufacturers and following that would be the easiest way to get started. So let us have a look then:

colourful sofa cushions

1. S: Clean only with a dry cleaning solvent. Do not use water;

2. W: Use only water-based upholstery cleaner. Do not use solvents;

3. WS: Use water or mild dry cleaning solvent. Cushion covers should not be removed and dry cleaned;

4. X: Use vacuuming or light brushing only. Do not use water or solvent.

It is that simple, just follow the care labels and you will be done in no less than half an hour and it does not really matter if your cushions have removable covers or not.

Method (b)

Now with process 2, the only tough part is having to identify the sofa fabric on your own. It is not that hard really. Most of them have little tags that tell you what the material used is. You should be able to determine the type of material you are dealing as this will help you to avoid damaging fibers and creating bleach stains on your cushions. As you already know different fabrics require different cleaning methods and detergents.

round rattan sofa with cushions

We have natural fabrics such as cotton, linen, silk; then synthetic materials like polyester, microfiber, vinyl; and lastly we have leather and suede. When you figure that out you make as well know how to clean each material especially if you know how to do your own laundry, you may as well use the care labels you find on other things of the same material.  

Cleaning Process


Now before you ever apply and cleaning detergent or solvent on your cushion it’s always best to pre-clean.  Pre-Cleaning is just a method of removing things that can be physically dealt with, for example, pet hair, dust, lint, toys, and the likes. With Pre-cleaning its best to use a duster, vacuum cleaner, or a moist to dry soft cloth. 

So you can just vacuum your sofa to remove the dust, lint build-up, hairs, breadcrumbs and any other tangible unwanted things from your cushions. When you are done you can just dust it and wipe it to remove the remaining dirt. Afterwards, when you are certain that most of the dust is gone, you can test it to see if it is clean to the extent you want or you want to go further. If it’s the latter then let us move on to the second phase, removing stains. 

Stain Removal

Now when it comes to stain removal you have to be very careful with the stain you are dealing with as some stain can spread and worsen once you use a solvent or water. So make sure you follow the cleaning tags you have been given. Please note that if you are unsure of the solvent or detergent you are about to use, make sure to test the solution on the invisible piece of the material, to make sure it does not damage or discolor your cushions.

Now let us talk about the different types of stains. One thing I know is that if you spill something on your cushion the faster you clean it the less harm done. However, to say you didn’t see it and then you see it at a later date you still have to clean it out and that’s when the solutions and detergents come in. So a stain can be from anything, soup, coffee, pee, oils, drool, blood, dirt really anything. How you clean it will either make your sofa new again or worsen the situation. 

Most stains can be cleaned with a simple sponge or clean cloth, some water and a tablespoon of clear dishwashing liquid, clear water-based shampoo or foam upholstery cleaner. Then again if you are not sure if the stain what caused the stain or when it occurred, do not use hot or warm water to treat it.

It will make the stain harder to deal with. So instead you can pretreat the stain with a liquid detergent that has enzymes in the case of the protein stains. Let it soak for about 30 minutes or longer then scrub it out with a sponge or cloth, starting with the exterior of the stain, then working your way towards the center of it.

Rinse the spot out with a clean sponge and water and then allow it to dry. In rare cases where the fabric allows for bleaching, use chlorine or oxygen bleach or a color-safe bleach as applicable. Then let it dry.

For old oil stains or those greasy stains on your cushions, the first step is to try to absorb them from the fabric as much as possible. You can do this by using baking soda or cornstarch. Place any of these items onto the stain, and let them soak out the grease for about 15 minutes and voila, just rub it out and your cushion is as good as new.

Final Thoughts

So basically cleaning your cushion is as much work as cleaning your sofa but at a smaller scale. If you were using method two then maybe next time you go buy cushions for a replacement you could ask what the material is and for the cleaning codes as well. I hope you’re happy with the results. Enjoy your allergy-free sittings with your cushions. 

Elissa Smith
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