Our family spends a lot of time in the living room, watching tv, lounging, and having wonderful conversations on the couch. However, with two rowdy toddlers with their snacks and their filthy hands and the occasional juice, coffee, or wine spill, the couch seems to get its fair share of wear and tear.

While a simple wipe-down or dust-off may do the trick in getting rid of light spills, I have come to realize that my couch needs deeper cleaning every so often to remove deeper stains. However, instead of spending hundreds of dollars to hire a professional upholstery cleaning company to clean my couch, I’ve entrusted an upholstery cleaner and I do the job myself.

A steam cleaner or upholstery cleaner will do wonders, from tackling a specific stain on the couch to refreshing the entire couch. It removes stubborn, tough stains, dirt, and grease while also sanitizing surfaces. So if you are hoping to save yourself some time and money, check out my step-by-step guide on how to clean a couch with a steam cleaner without the need for professional cleaners.

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Supplies Needed


*Before you begin, be sure to check the care instructions on your couch to see if it can be steam cleaned.

Step 1: Vacuum the Couch to Remove Dust and Debris

The first thing you need to do is remove the pillows, blankets, and other items that may be on the couch. Then prepare your couch for steam cleaning by vacuuming or dusting it to remove visible dust and debris. You can also use a clean cloth and dust away any dirt.

vacuum couch

I use my vacuum cleaner’s brush attachment tool and suction attachment to get in all the areas of the couch. You never know what toys, cookie crumbs, chips, and stray pet hairs are lurking on and in between the crevices of the couch.

Step 2: Get the Steam Cleaner Ready

Time to get the steam cleaner ready. Follow the instructions for your specific steam cleaner. Some steam machines work with just clean water, while others use a cleaning solution diluted with warm water. For the Hoover Spotless, you will need to fill it with water and a cleaning solution.

Step 3: Use the Steam Cleaner on the Couch

It’s time to start cleaning your couch. If your couch cushions are removable, use the steam cleaner to clean the cushions first. Use the steam cleaner handle and spray the surface. Press the button that releases the steam onto the surface and give it a second to absorb. Then drag the opening of the steamer over the damp area to evaporate the excess water.

couch cleaner pillow

This will remove dust, loose dirt, and tough stains from the surface of the fabric. Continue to do this all over the couch in small sections or in the areas that need to be spot cleaned.

handheld couch cleaner

Step 4: Let the Couch Dry

This is the last step in the cleaning process. Once you are done cleaning the couch, let it dry for about 4-5 hours or overnight to be on the safe side. You can turn on a fan ceiling fan or open a window to help speed up the drying time. Leave a door open to prevent any possible mold and mildew from developing.


Optional Step 

If the couch is badly stained, it may be a good idea to pretreat the stains prior to steam cleaning. You can use any kind of upholstery cleaner, white vinegar, or another upholstery-safe cleaning agent, apply the cleaner to a damp cloth and then blot the stain. I like to use Oxi Clean stain remover spray. Try to stay away from harsh chemicals for deep cleaning that can damage your couch.

stain remover couch

Again this step is optional because the steam cleaner can take on some of the toughest stains with prior treatment. Depending on the type of stain, stains such as soda stains, urine, feces, food, and surface dirt can be removed by steam alone. However, grease stains and oil-based stains may need pre-treatment for best results.

Why should you steam clean your couch?  

Our couches experience a lot of activity daily. Lots of dirt and grime can accumulate quickly on the couch – especially if you have pets and kids. Steam cleaning helps to extend the life of the couch. It cleans and lifts difficult stains without releasing too much moisture into the fabric sofa.

With steam cleaning, you can get rid of stubborn stains, odors, and other bacteria existing on the couch.

What is the best steam cleaner or upholstery cleaner for a couch?

It’s important to use the right steam cleaner that is designed specifically for upholstery. That said, the best upholstery steam cleaner for a couch is the Hoover Spotless Upholstery Cleaner. I prefer this upholstery spot cleaner because it is super lightweight, affordable, and can remove the toughest pet stains and everyday mishaps. It is an excellent cleaning equipment that you can also use to spot clean rugs and fabric chairs.

bissell couch cleaner

What can I put in my steam cleaner to clean my couch?

Most steam cleaner requires only water but this particular Hoover cleaner comes with a cleaning solution. For best results, you will need to use their recommended solution.

Should I buy a steam cleaner?

I would absolutely recommend buying a steam cleaner for home use. Most are pretty affordable and easy to store. It is especially great in a household with children and pets. It helps you give your couch a more thorough cleaning while tackling tough set-in stains and messes.

How long does steam cleaning a couch take to dry?

The drying process for steam cleaning the couch can be anywhere from 4 – 5 hours. For best results, leave overnight with windows or doors open to prevent mold and mildew.

Can you steam clean any type of couch?

The short answer to this is no. You cannot just steam clean any kind of fabric furniture. While most upholstery fabric couches can be steam cleaned, leather couches should not be steam cleaned. For leather upholstery, you may need to use a specific leather cleaner.

To find out if your couch can be steam cleaned, check the furniture’s care label for a symbol that will indicate how it can be cleaned. Ex. any couch with an X cannot be steam cleaned but W, S, and WS can be.​​



Preserving our beloved couch is important to us, so using a steam cleaner helps us to do just that. Hopefully, you have found this article helpful and useful. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this article, so leave a comment below. Feel free also to follow me on my social media pages – Pinterest and Instagram or subscribe to my mailing list for other design inspiration and home decor ideas.

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Tamara White is the creator and founder of The Thrifty Apartment, a home decor and DIY blog that focuses on affordable and budget-friendly home decorating ideas and projects. Tamara documents her home improvement journey, love of thrifting, tips for space optimization, and creating beautiful spaces.

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One Comment

  1. Thank you for mentioning that you may blot the stain with a moist towel after applying any sort of upholstery cleaner, white vinegar, or another cleaning solution appropriate for upholstery. My sister is irritated because her kids spilled chocolate milk on the couch. I’ll make a call to the residential furniture upholstery cleaning service so they can determine the best cleaning method for the sofa.

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