steam clean couch

10 Step Guide On To Steam Clean A Couch

When my couch old was a few years old it got dirty from my kids and their muck! After a while sitting on the stained couch felt odd and gross. It decreased my level of comfort and I felt self-conscious when I had visitors over. My eyes were constantly seeking out the smudges!

Over time most fun activities will leave stains on your couch. Having kids, a pet or an oopsi when entertaining friends with pizza and drinks. Inevitably your couch is going to get dirty.

But don’t worry, there’s a simple routine you can follow to get your couch back to feeling new and fresh by using an upholstery steam cleaner and I’m going to show you how. Here’s the 10-step guide for how to steam clean a couch.

What Are the Benefits of Steam Cleaning a Couch? 

  1. Steam is a powerful cleaner of tough stains. It will give your fabric a refreshed look, and a deep clean will give it a nice spruce.
  2. Steam is used for sterilization because of its proven ability to kill germs. It also deodorizes the spots you treat, that’s essential when you have a pet.
  3. Most often, you wouldn’t need to apply chemical products when you’re steaming. The intense steam is quite capable of removing tough stains. 
  4. Steam cleaning is an eco-friendly alternative. It’s also quick and easy, as the steam cleaners are pretty straight forward and easy to operate. 

How to Steam Clean Your Couch in 10 Simple Steps

Steam cleaning a couch is quicker, easier, and more efficient than manual cleaning. It’s also a more economical option than using a cleaning service. Here’s how to get a  steam clean sofa.

Step 1: Gather What You Need

Getting everything ready before you begin may sound simple, but it saves you lots of time and effort, or possibly getting halfway through and having to stop! There are a few essential things to get to steam a couch or sofa, so here’s what you’ll need:

  • A couple of pieces of clean dry cloth
  • A dry sponge
  • A little bowl with liquid soap and water
  • A portable vacuum cleaner or the one you have
  • An upholstery steam cleaner
  • A cup of water for the steam cleaner
  • Stain removal product (optional)


Make sure check the washing information on your couch before you use any chemical or hot steam on your couch’s fabric. Couches usually have a stitched label somewhere to tell you the washing recommendations of the fabric and if it has special requirements. Check that now.

Step 2: Vacuum Your Couch

Vacuum your couch first to get rid of all the dry dirt. This is a really important step! Applying steam to dust dilutes it and make your fabric look muddy. If you couch is a light color this might a big problem!

Take the pillows off and use a nozzel to get into the creases. You’ll probably find crumbs and food remains in these tight spots. Look around the armrests and behind the cushions too. These are all favorite hiding spots for leftovers.

Use a high-power setting to remove as much dust as possible from the deep layers of the upholstery. Vacuuming will deal with all the accumulated pet hair clinging to the fabric or stuck behind the cushions. Now move on to the next step, with a piece of clean dry cloth.

Step 3: Do Some Surface Cleaning

Clean the parts of the couch you cannot vacuum. Carefully lift one corner of the couch and wipe off the dust from the feet or any other substances clinging to the wooden supports. You’d be surprised how much dirt can wrap itself around that spot. Chewing gum, cat excrement, a piece of cheese from last week’s pizza, or a crushed insect.

This is step doesn’t seem essential considering it’s the underside of the couch and all. It’s important though. Foodstuff is an open invitation for insects. The smell could build up after a while too, so just include that part in your cleaning scheme.

Step 4: Remove The Easy Stains

With a sponge and some soapy water, spot clean the easy stains. This step needs to come after removing all the dust and pet hair. Mixing water and dust never ends well.

Starting with a small hidden spot first, use a sponge soaked in water and some detergent, spot soak the stains with a little in soap and water. After a few minutes, rub the stain with the sponge from the outside in. This movement limits the spread of the stain outwards.


Rub the stain with the sponge from the outside in to stop the spread of any stain

The easy stains shouldn’t take too much handling to come off. Some stains are easier than others. You can remove a coffee stain in a minute, but an oily cheese smudge would take a bit more to get rid of.

After this step get a clean dry cloth and pat dry the stained area, this will help remove some of the grim. You can also use a paper towel if it’s convenient, these work well. Try to remove as much water as you can.

Step 5: Prepare Your Steamer

Make sure that your Steam Cleaner is up to temperature. You want to be using steam that is hot enough to kill bacteria and neutralize smells so make sure that your steam cleaner is ready.

Steam cleaners usually take some time to heat up enough to make quality steam. Some models are quick and get ready for work in 30 seconds. Others take up to 10 minutes to be fully prepared.

Line up the required accessories. Your most important bits are the brushes and length extension rod. You need small round brushes for tight spaces and armrests, a wedge-shaped brush for the creases, and a broad brush for the flat areas.

Step 6: Steam the Cushions

Check the labels and spot test first. Make sure that the fabric of the cushions can tolerate the heat and steam. Your cushions might be colored so check if the colored dye is stable by applying water in a hidden spot of the cushion first before steaming.

Cushions could also have frills or lace adornments. You must check if these parts too can be steam cleaned. Revising this washing labels would take a moment, but it will save a lot of heartache if anything goes wrong.

Use a medium round brush to steam the face and backside of the cushions. Wait for each side to dry before working on the next side. This would maintain the shape of your cushions.

Step 7: Steam the Backrest

Start steaming the main part of the couch by steam cleaning the backrest. You might have to climb on the couch to reach the backrest so it’s best to do this part while the rest of the couch is dry.

The backrest will most probably have stains or dark areas from your hair oils where you lean back to rest or nap. Consistent steaming will remove the tinted area right away.

Reapply steam at the places where there’s more staining. You might also try leaving it soaking in the humidity for a few minutes, and then re-apply.

Fabrics usually change color when they become humid. Wait for about 10 minutes, then check visually whether there are still any stains or darker parts of the fabric.

Steam any required parts once more, but don’t overdo it. You wouldn’t want your couch to become too moist.

Pat the couch down with a dry rag to pull any moisture and dirt from the surface.

At this point, the backrest should look clean and refreshed!

Step 8: Steam the Sides and Back of the Couch

Starting on the inside of the armrests, work your way outwards over the arm rest and down the sides on the external parts.

Armrests are notorious for having grime! Some people even use washable armrest covering to protect this part.

Armrest stains are often dark and greasy from our skin’s oils. Steam melts and degreases oily stains, but the produced muck wouldn’t go away on its own. Use a dry cloth to soak up the degreased residue. You might need to go over it with your steamer once more to make sure it’s all gone.

Finally, take the steamer to the external part of the back. This should be the least stained component of the couch. It’s the farthest from all the action, but a pet could have reached it too, so check!

Step 9: Remove the Stubborn Stains

Your couch should look and smell great but it’s possible some stains may remain that are too hard to budge without further treatments.

If you haven’t been able to shift the stains yet, it might be time to thing about using a stain removal product or getting a upholstery shampooer.

We recommend using a commercial stain removal product to get rid of the really hard to remove stains. Before you do this, again make sure it’s suitable for your fabric. Once product that has worked for me and has a good track record with tough stains is XXXX.

After this, you can re-steam the stain site but usually you wouldn’t have to. We’d recommend a little steaming to remove any residual chemicals. This can also help blend any remaining stain to the rest of the couch.

Step 10: Leave Your Couch to Dry

Stream cleaning will leave your couch slightly damp when the heated vapor cools. This humidity should be dried off completely to maintain long term freshness of the fabric.

Leave the windows open. Natural air circulation is quite enough to dry it up. It would also be great to let the sun in if you have that option.

Turn the cushions to the other side to make sure they’re thoroughly crisp and fluffed up.

You Are Finished!

Take a quick moment to take a step back to enjoy your sparkling freshly steamed couch! Be happy! You just steam cleaned your couch and saved lots of money! 

What Are the Other Fabric Cleaning Options?

Steaming is an optimal solution for cleaning your couch, but it’s not your only choice. Here are some other alternatives.

Get Professional Help

You can call in a professional cleaning service to get your couch in shape. This is usually done in a day. But you have to search for the right contractor, book his services, and schedule an appointment. 

You’d also have to stay at home the whole day to wait for the cleaners. You might also supervise their work. Some companies will ask you to send the couch over, so there’s that other arrangement. 

Finally, you’ll pay them for their services plus all the materials and chemicals used. They often use copious amounts of cleaning products to get the job done. Mostly they’re industrial cleaning agents. You can specify eco-friendly products if you like.

Use Commercial Cleaning Products 

You can use strong soap and water to clean up your couch. It’s not bad and gets your couch to an acceptable state. The coverage is usually limited to visible grime and stains. 

It also takes a long time to achieve a satisfactory level of cleanliness.

Use DIY Home Remedies

You can use a more natural approach to cleaning your couch. Many of the materials in your kitchen serve as efficient stain removers. Vinegar, lemon, soda water, and baking soda are some of the stuff you can use. 

They’ll also address local spots on the couch. A full deep clean is hard to achieve with these resources.  

Some Final Thoughts About Steam Cleaning Couches

Couches are an easy target for the accumulation of stains and grime. It’s where we sit with our loved ones and entertain our friends. After a while, we all have food remains, spilled coffee or fruit juice, cake stains, and grimy patches of unknown origin.

Sprucing up your couch with a refreshing shot of steam resets it back to its glamorous state, and neatness usually equals comfort. Now you know the steps it is easy to keep your couch looking sparkling and elegant enough to invite some friends over.

We hope this 10 step guide for how to steam clean a couch helped and motivated you! Enjoy your sparkling clean couch, and please share with us your own tips tricks below. Leave a comment and tell us all about it! 

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