How to Clean Couch Cushions like the Pros

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We spend so much time on our couch, and the same goes for everyone in our family. It’s a place for sick kiddos to recover from the flu, a spot to rest after the gym, somewhere to relax with a hot cup of tea, and of course, it’s the dog’s favorite place to nap all day long (and we mean all day). Everything we do on the couch runs the risk of some serious stains, but there’s no need to worry if, and when, those inevitable stains strike. The good news is cleaning couch cushions is surprisingly easy. And the even better news is we’ll tell you exactly how to wash couch cushions in this post!

If there’s one thing you take from this guide, let it be this: always, always, always check the manufacturer’s tag before washing couch cushions, or any other part of the couch, because there are definitely wrong steps you could be following when it comes to how to clean sofa cushions. Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the most common manufacturer upholstery codes you may come across.



Spot clean with formula, mild detergent or a mild dry cleaning solvent. Don’t saturate with liquid. Do not remove cushion covers, instead dry clean couch cushions if necessary.


Clean only with water-based formula. Do not use solvent-based cleaners. Do not remove cushion covers and wash them, because doing so runs the risk of changing the color of the cushion.


Clean only by using a vacuum. Do not use any water or solvent-based cushion cleaner.


Do not use any sort of liquid to clean. You can use solvent-based cleaners. If cushion covers can be removed, you may dry clean them.










If you’re trying to figure out how to wash couch cushion covers and the tag says they can be machine washed, go ahead and toss them in the washing machine. This is also a good time to talk about how to clean foam couch cushions. If your whole foam cushion needs to be washed, and the cover can be machine washed, remove the cover and toss it in the wash. Fill a bathtub with soap and warm water so you can submerge the cushion. Work the soapy water into the cushion. You may need to repeat this with a tub of clean water a few times. Once it’s clean, wrap the cushion in towels to help it dry faster. You may need to switch the towels a few times as well. Make sure the cushion is completely dry before putting the cover back on and returning the cushion to the couch.

Unfortunately, for a lot of people, simply washing their cushions in the tub and washing their covers in the washing machine isn’t an option. However, fortunately for those same people, we have very thorough steps for how to clean chair cushions and couch cushions in this guide.

In addition to checking the manufacturer’s tag, you also need to make sure the color on your couch doesn’t transfer. Testing this is easy. Grab a white towel, spray some cleaner on the towel and rub it on your couch in an inconspicuous spot. We’ve found around a zipper or near a hidden seam is a good area to test that not a lot of people see. If the color doesn’t transfer, it should be good to continue. If the color does transfer to the towel, do not clean it with water.

Once you’re in the clear with your couch’s fabric tag and its colorfastness, it’s time to get to work. Remove what cushions you can and take them outside. Use a broom to beat any dirt and dust you can out of them. If your couch has tufts that like to collect dirt, use a can of compressed air or our LED Lighted Crevice Tool (pictured below) to clean them out. Then use your vacuum and its upholstery attachments, like our Pet TurboEraser® Tool, to pick up any dry debris you may have loosened. 

Next, look at some of the stains on your couch. We bet your sofa has seen it all. The good news is our chemists make formulas to tackle all sorts of stains. Woolite® Instaclean™ Pet Stain Remover is great on pet messes, red wine, coffee, makeup, and so much more. Plus, it discourages your pets from having accidents in the same area, so you shouldn’t have to clean their messes off the couch cushions again. Pet Stain Pretreat for Carpet & Upholstery is another good one. The enzyme-action cleaning power helps loosen tough pet stains and odors. A pro tip for using this formula, because it’s enzyme-based, it works best when it’s covered with a moist towel and has plenty of time to work. You can let it sit for up to 12 hours! During this time the enzymes will work to “eat” the microscopic particles that make up that yucky stain.

After you’ve pretreated the stains, grab your portable carpet cleaner. Our SpotClean® Pro Heat® works wonders on couch cushions. Just fill it up with one of our portable machine formulas, like Professional Spot & Stain + Oxy and add extra power with Prevent Boost Carpet Cleaning Formula Enhancer. They work to instantly and permanently remove tough stains from your sofa cushions and other upholstery. If you don’t have any visible stains on your couch, you can use a steam cleaner to give your cushions a refresh. Our PowerFresh® Slim Heavy Duty Steam Mop converts into a handheld steam cleaner that comes with 7 tools, including a clothing steamer tool. That tool can be used to steam, sanitize and refresh fabrics like couch cushions.

It should take just a few hours for the cushions to dry. Once they do, you can let life’s little moments back on that clean couch. We can picture it now, you sitting on the freshly washed couch with a fresh glass of red wine, not even the least bit worried about spilling it, because you know if you do, you have all the tips you’ll need to clean it up in this guide.