How to Maintain Different Sofa Fabrics

Almost every home has a sofa, and it’s oftentimes right in the middle of the room, so it must look presentable at all times. However, different materials require different cleaning routines. You can’t clean a velvet couch the same way you would a leather one. What can be suitable for one fabric is often fatal for the other one. 

This is why we’ve created this helpful guide that will help you clean up the most common types of sofas – leather, velvet and polyester. By following these valuable tips, you will always be ready to battle any surprise stains and prolong the life of your furniture. 

So without further ado, let’s see how to maintain different sofa fabrics. 

How to maintain a leather sofa 

Leather is a beautiful, luxurious material often used with many different types of furniture. However, it’s also the most sensitive one that can be easily damaged. For example, it cannot be cleaned with the hot water extraction method, and most stains are quite hard to get rid of. 

That’s why we recommend that you implement a weekly cleaning routine so that it doesn’t start looking worn out only after a few months of its life. Here are some easily applicable tips that you can follow to clean your leather sofa and maintain its excellent condition. 

Cleaning a leather sofa 

  1. Brush off all the loose dirt with a soft clean cloth. If you have a specialised vacuum attachment, use that to help you get to all the tiny cracks and crevices. 
  2. Fill a bowl with distilled lukewarm water and wipe the couch with it carefully. Tap water can contain many harmful bacteria that will damage the finish of your leather sofa, which is why you shouldn’t use it. Don’t apply too much water. 

Tip: Apply a bit of the water to a small hidden area of your sofa to see how the material will react and avoid any severe damage. 

  1. Once a week or fortnight, use a specialised cleaning product to clean up your leather sofa. Look for solutions made specifically for leather, and don’t trust any multi-purpose cleaners or baby wipes. A lot of them can be extremely harmful to the gentle leather and will damage it for good. Depending on the product you’ve chosen, follow the instructions carefully and don’t forget to put on a mask and gloves. 
  2. Let your sofa air dry, and don’t sit on it until it has finished. Open up as many doors and windows as you can so that any leftover product has the chance to evaporate entirely and there are no creases on the sofa. 

Maintenance tips 

  • Apply conditioner regularly. Leather is a material that contains special oils that give it that exceptional shine. Replenish them by applying leather conditioner every two or three weeks and keep your sofa healthy and prevent cracks. 
  • Keep your leather sofa away from heat. No matter how much you condition your couch, if it’s constantly exposed to heat, tears and cracks will appear. Position the sofa as far away from heat sources as possible, and that includes under an AC unit, close to fireplaces, radiators etc. 
  • Plump the cushions daily. It’s very easy for leather cushions to get flat and lifeless, so make sure that you plump them regularly. Fibre and feather fillings don’t have the natural ability to bounce back, so you have to do it for them. 
  • Keep non-colourfast clothes and materials away. They can dye your sofa forever, especially if the leather is a light coloured one. Check out which cushions, blankets, clothes are non-colourfast and keep them away from the sofa. Otherwise, the pigments will transfer before you even know it. 
  • Keep the pets away from the sofa. Even though that’s a given with any type of sofa, it’s crucial with leather ones. Any scratches and bite marks will stay forever and cannot be fixed. If you’re very keen on having your pet on the sofa, at least place a protective blanket on top. 

How to maintain a velvet sofa 

Velvet sofas are a trendy choice because of how amazing they can feel, but they can be quite tricky when it comes to maintenance. Let’s see how you can maintain your velvet sofa in top-shape: 

Cleaning a velvet sofa

  1. Similar to other types of sofas, you always start by removing the detachable parts, blankets and accessories.
  2. Clean thoroughly with a special vacuum attachment by getting into all of the little crevices. Velvet sofas can easily detain dirt, so this part is crucial. 
  3. It’s important to note that velvet sofas can be created by mixing many different fabrics that include but are not limited to linen, wool, cotton and silk. To avoid damage and keep the couch safe, see what the exact material is and get a cleaning solution made for it. 
  4. Even if the label says that it’s safe, always test the cleaner on a small area before doing the whole sofa with it. Let it develop for a few hours and if everything is okay, continue. 
  5. In any case, use as little water as you can, since natural materials can develop mould and kink with ease. 
  6. Leave your sofa to dry up, shake and plump the cushions, and you’re ready! 

Maintenance tips 

  • To recover pressure marks, apply steam to the area. After that, gently and slowly brush the sofa in the direction of the pile in question to lift it. 
  • You can do the opposite technique if you want to return the velvet sheen to your sofa – just brush against the pile. 
  • If you spill something on it, get a clean fibre cloth and blot the spill to remove as much liquid as possible. Use a hairdryer from a distance to take care of the rest. 
  • If the stain is already too deep or it has already penetrated the sofa fibres, call a professional. Any DIY methods will most likely damage the fabric instead of cleaning it. 

How to maintain a polyester sofa 

As we mentioned earlier, polyester sofas are quite popular as there are quite common and a lot more affordable than other materials. With that being said, they still require regular cleaning and maintenance

Cleaning a polyester sofa

  1. Remove all the detachable parts like cushions and armrests so that you have access to all the parts of the sofa. 
  2. Sprinkle deodorising baking powder on the sofa and then vacuum carefully with the appropriate attachment. Go as deep as you can in between the different parts, and don’t forget the underneath. 
  3. Check the label, and if your sofa can withstand water, clean it with the following solution. Mix one teaspoon of mild laundry detergent and one teaspoon of white vinegar with a bit of lukewarm water. Just to be on the safe side, test this cleaner on a small area of the couch that is not visible. If it doesn’t react in a bad way, continue cleaning the rest of the sofa with a soft clean microfibre cloth by using a dabbing motion. 
  4. When you’re done, soak another cloth with cold, clean water and rinse the area. 
  5. Leave your sofa to air dry, and don’t sit on it until it’s ready. Open up windows and doors, and even turn a fan or the AC on to prevent mildew and mould growth. 
  6. Once the sofa is fully dry, go over it with a soft bristle brush. Remember to do it in a circular motion. It will help the fibres to return to their normal soft state. 

Maintenance tips

  • Regularly go over the sofa with a lint roller to remove pet hair and small dirt particles. You can also use rubber gloves. 
  • If you have pets that regularly go on the sofa, refresh it with a mixture of white vinegar and baking soda to remove smells and other pet soils like urine and vomit. 
  • If you see chewing gum on it, just rub it with an ice cube until it hardens, and peel it off. 
  • DIY solutions can be great for a quick freshening but if there are any more serious stains or you haven’t cleaned your sofa in a while, just call a professional carpet cleaning company. They will know how to treat the material without damaging it and can take care of most hard-to-remove stains. 


Sofas are oftentimes the centrepiece of your living room, so it’s essential to provide them with proper maintenance. We advise that you take care of spills immediately because they become harder to remove with time. And no matter what the material of your lovely sofa is, regular cleaning and taking precautions will always help to ensure a longer, healthier life. 

Author bio: Jane Wilson is a mother, blogger and marketing executive living in Melbourne. She works for the local branch of Fantastic Cleaners, a licensed cleaning company that provides a broad range of services. She also owns a small lifestyle blog called Modern Housewives, where she shares all kinds of home improvement and parenting tips.