Steam cleaners have been around for some time, but they’ve only gained popularity now that people are becoming more aware of harsh cleaning chemicals and environmental allergens. Spring cleaning time is coming up, and you want to give your couch a good rinse. But how to steam clean a couch with no prior experience?

Lucky for you, if you have a steam cleaner, you’re all set to make your couch look as good as new. Below, we explain how to clean a couch with a steam cleaner.

furniture steam cleaning after construction & steam cleaning a couch

How Often Should You Steam Clean Your Couch?

Your kids love to make the couch their playground, and the pets jump right on it as soon as they come inside from the yard. Or maybe you live alone and cannot seem to avoid the accidental wine spills from weekly solo movie nights.

Whatever the reason, you should clean a spill as soon as it happens. Hand-held steamers come in handy (pun intended) for this.

Also, vacuum your couch weekly to remove dirt and debris that could cause stains when sitting on it. As for overall steam cleaning, do it once every season.

couch tags in US

Before You Begin

The year 1969 was a good time because that’s when furniture manufacturers began to add a tag on their upholstery products. These tags informed the buyers about the best cleaning practices for the upholstery.

Before you fire up your steam cleaning machine, check the code on the couch tag.

  • Code X: The X means you should not use any cleaning agent on your couch. Such couches should only be vacuumed or cleaned professionally. A homemade or commercial chemical-based cleaner could shrink or stain the couch.
  • Code W: You can clean these couches with water-based cleaning solutions.
  • Code S: Use a water-free cleaner to clean this couch since it needs dry cleaning. Pro tip: open the windows when using water-free solvents since they require ventilation. Ensure there’s no open flame nearby, such as a candle or a fireplace.
  • Code W-S: These couches can be cleaned with solvent and water-based products.

What if you don’t see a tag? Well, in that case, do a patch test. Use your steam cleaning machine on a hidden couch part to check the fabric’s reaction. If no shrinkage or staining occurs, you’re good to go.

steam cleaning NO NO

No-No for Steam Cleaning

While steam cleaning may work for most fabrics, you should NEVER use it for suede, silk, or leather sofas and couches. Also, don’t use a steam cleaner on cushions or other upholstery with a down filling.

Tim Jankowski, an upholstery and carpet cleaning expert at Aladdin’s Cleaning & Restoration, says that steam can damage “some blended fabrics,” too.

But then, how to clean a couch without a steam cleaner? The best solution is to hire a professional service, like Luxury Cleaning NY, for dry cleaning. At Luxury Cleaning NY, we use physical, chemical, and mechanical methods of disinfection to free your upholstery of allergens too. Schedule a cleaning to learn more about our services.


How to Steam Clean a Couch: Equipment and Materials Required

You’ll need the following materials:

  • A container of upholstery stain remover
  • Two bottles of dishwashing liquid

Plus, the following equipment:

  • A vacuum with a crevice tool and upholstery brush
  • A hand-held steamer
  • Two microfiber cloths
  • A soft-bristled brush
  • A kitchen whisk
steam cleaning the couch by Luxury Cleaning NY


How to Steam Clean a Couch: Step-by-Step

Many people want to know how to steam clean a couch with a clothes steamer. The step-by-step guide below works for all hand-held steamers, including clothes steamers.

Step 1: Vacuum the Couch

Before you bring the steam cleaner into the equation, you must remove the debris from the couch. Use a HEPA-filter vacuum cleaner to remove as much dirt and pet dander as you can. Get in the sides and seams of the couch with the crevice tool.

Use the upholstery brush for the seat and the rest of the couch. Also, vacuum the sides and the frame of the couch.

Ahmad Jamal, an expert at Cleaners Advisor, says you should use an upholstery or fabric brush with your vacuum. He also suggests using “the lowest steam setting will prevent damage.”

Step 2: Treat the Stains

How you treat the stains will depend on the type of stain. Here are a few:

  • Fresh Liquid: Use a paper towel to blot as much oil or moisture as you can from the couch.
  • Dried Solids: Use a soft-bristled brush to break up the dried matter. Vacuum the broken bits.
  • Mustard: Ketchup, mustard, and other sauces are a pain to remove. Scrape these stains off with a credit card or a knife’s blunt end. Be careful not to rub the stained fabric because the condiment will only penetrate deeper into the couch fabric.

After this, pretreat the stains. If you’re using a commercial upholstery cleaner, follow the manufacturer’s directions.

Or you can make a DIY cleaner using this method:

  • Add 1/4 cup of dishwashing soap into a small bucket.
  • Fill it with a cup of hot water.
  • Whisk the solution to make suds.

Now, dip your microfiber cloth in this mixture to rub the stains gently. When the microfiber cloth picks up the stain, don’t use the same part to clean another section of the couch. Instead, use a clean area of the cloth or a new cloth.

Use another microfiber cloth to remove the cleaner residue. Dip it in clean water and blot the residual cleaner. 

Pro Tip: Do not use a colored towel for stain removal. The chemicals in a commercial cleaner can cause the towel’s color to leak, making the cleaning process even more cumbersome and lengthy.

Step 3: Time for Steam Cleaning

Now, let’s move on to the fun part. Fill your steam cleaner with clean water.

Hold its head close to the seat of the couch and start moving. We recommend moving in a grid pattern and overlapping your strokes, as it would prevent any missed areas. If your couch has flippable cushions, take them off and steam clean underneath them too.

Some steam carpet cleaners have detachable heads and can suck water out of fabric. You can use this function to suck out excess water from the couch. But do a spot test to check if the suction damages the couch fabric.

The key is not to use too much water/steam since it will get trapped in the fabric, giving rise to mold and mildew over time.

Step 4: Air-Dry

By now, your couch should look the way it did when you brought it home from the store – or at least, close to it. The next step is to let it air dry. Usually, it would take about eight to ten hours.

Open the windows and turn on the fan to speed up the air-drying process. After the couch dries, it’s ready for use again.

Easy enough? If not, check out this YouTube video for a visual representation. 


How to Remove Stubborn Stains From Your Couch?

You may know how to steam clean a couch, but is it effective if the stubborn stains still linger after hours of elbow grease? Our experts recommend using a vinegar solution to remove tough stains if dish soap and water do not cut it.

  • Soak a microfiber cloth in apple cider or white vinegar.
  • Blot the stain on your couch with this cloth, ensuring the vinegar saturated the stain.
  • Do not scrub the stain, or it will set it even more. Instead, rub the cloth onto the stain in a gentle circular motion.
  • Dip another cloth in clean water and use it to remove the residual vinegar.

We admit that vinegar leaves a nasty smell on your couch, but that’s the price you pay for a clean upholstery. Baking soda can act as a deodorizer for vinegar in most cleaning procedures, but we won’t recommend it in this one. The powder may settle into the crevices of your couch or leave white blotches on the fabric.

The ultimate solution here is to rely on a professional cleaning service. At Luxury Cleaning NY, we use the best equipment, expertise, and materials to make your upholstery as pristine as new.

If you’re wondering how much to steam clean a couch, our standard rates start from $100. Schedule a cleaning to get a quote based on the size of your couch.

Luxury Cleaning Services NYC - NYC Steam Cleaning Process


Steam Cleaning a Couch: DIY or Hire a Professional?

If you’ve got a knack for DIYs, steaming cleaning should be right up your alley. But your DIY skills might fall short when you’re dealing with months-old stains, stubborn ketchup marks, crayon drawings your toddler thought would look best on the couch as a canvas, and paw marks.

That’s when it’s time to bring in the big guns. Luxury Cleaning NY uses state-of-the-art wet and dry cleaning methods to bring your upholstery back to a presentable shape. Schedule your first steam cleaning with us today to clean your couch quickly and professionally with the help of cleaning experts. 

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