The Proper Care And Feeding Of Sofas

By Nick Vassilev

updated: 06/10/2023

You Love Your Favourite Sofa, Right?

Sofa, couches, settees, ottomans… call them what you like, but we all like relaxing on them. Sometimes, we sleep on sofa cleaning tipsthem as well.  It would be a rare household indeed that doesn’t have at least one sofa in it. And every household is going to be faced with the issue of cleaning the sofa at some stage or another.

Sofa Usage Rules

The first thing you can do to keep a sofa clean is to have a few rules to do with it.  The first relates to the proper feeding of a sofa – or maybe, that should be not feeding the sofa. You should avoid eating or drinking on the sofa.  All right, so maybe that’s just a bit too strict for most people, as we all like to have a nibble in front of the TV or while reading the paper when we’re sitting on the sofa.  In this case, the best way to not feed the sofa is to use a coffee table or put your drink down on the floor so you don’t get coffee all over it, and to use a plate for your biscuits to catch the crumbs.

Pets are another thing that will get your sofa dirty in next to no time.  In general, the larger the pet and the longer its hair, the dirtier the sofa.  Ideally, you should keep pets off the sofa itself as much as possible, but if you own cats, this is like trying to get water to flow uphill.  Dogs are easier to keep down on the ground.


You can, of course, cheat when it comes to cleaning a sofa and just use slip covers or throw rugs over them. These catch all the crumbs, coffee (most of it, anyway) and pet hair, and when they look a bit manky, you just whip them off (and put a fresh one on, if you’ve thought ahead and got a spare one) and throw them in the wash. Problem solved – as long as you read the care labels first. Throw rugs and slipcovers are perfect if your sofa is getting a bit long in the tooth and the upholstery’s wearing away as they cover over a multitude of sofa sins, such as stains and split seams.

If you don’t have a slipcover or throw, you’re going to have to clean the sofa directly. Leather upholstery and its close el cheapo cousin vinyl is a bit easier to clean hairs and crumbs off, as these bits of dirt slide off and don’t get stuck the way they do with cloth. The upholstery fitting on your vacuum cleaner is your best friend here, even on a cloth-upholstered sofa.

You don’t just have to clean the visible bits of a sofa. You also have to go down deep when you clean it. To do this, you’ll have to pull the cushions off and get in there with your hands before you use the vacuum cleaner to get rid of the debris. This is where you are likely to find old pens, teaspoons, bus tickets, guitar picks, fossilised raisins and coins. The coins are a perk for whoever gets the job! Once you’ve got the big stuff out, you can move the vacuum cleaner in – use the “nosey parker” attachment to get right down into the deep crevices.

The more frequently you clean your sofa, the easier the task will be. However, even if you do it as a weekly domestic cleaning chore, it is still a good idea to call in a professional upholstery cleaner on an annual basis if you want to keep your sofa looking its best.

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