How do you clean your sofa and carpet?

Now that you finally have the time to do it, how do you clean your sofa and carpet? A well-planned upholstery and carpet cleaning brings freshness to a room, creating a pleasant experience for its occupants. 

You’d be right to wonder whether a fabric sofa is cleaned like a leather couch. Or whether a hot water extraction is better than dry carpet cleaning. So, let’s clear the doubts. 

In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know before you clean your sofa and carpet.

How often should you clean your sofa & carpet?

There is no strict rule on how often you should clean your upholstery and carpets. However, a good pattern to follow is when you vacuum the floor, and your sofas. Otherwise, we recommend vacuuming them every week and having them cleaned professionally every six to 12 months.

Selecting the right cleaners for your sofa & carpet

Cleaners are solutions made for the safe and efficient removal of dirt. They dissolve soil, break it down, and remove it from the sofa’s surface into the solution. Besides safety, the most crucial consideration when selecting the type of cleaner to use is how the compounds will react with the sofa and carpet material. 

Understanding how the different types of cleaners work will help you to determine the right one for your sofa. Two main types of cleaners are used for upholstery and carpets; solvent and water-based. So, which one should you use? 

#1 Solvent Cleaners

A solvent cleaner can utilise a single solvent or a variety of solvents and compounds designed to provide a certain level of solvency or remove a specific soil without affecting the material. A well-known example is rubbing alcohol. 

Pros of solvent cleaners

  • They have high cleaning power and are prevalent in industrial applications. They remove thick and stubborn stains, oils, grease, and dirt. 
  • Some evaporate fast at room temperature, allowing your sofa to dry quickly, but others require elevated temperatures. 
  • They have low surface tension, meaning their molecules don’t easily pull together to form a droplet. They spread quickly and permeate into tight sofa parts, enabling low-moisture cleaning. 

Cons of solvent cleaners

  • It can contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which can contribute to smog and may harm your health.
  • It can harm the skin. Wear solvent-resistant gloves to protect your hands. 
  • Some are flammable and risky to use and should only be used when the room has good air turnover, there are no ignition sources, and all safety protocols have been observed. 

#2 Water-based cleaners

These cleaners also work by reacting with contaminants to make them more readily dissolve into the water. For example acidic stains such as from lemons and vinegar (citric and acetic acids) or carbonic soft drinks easily dissolve in acidic solutions with a pH of 7 and below. 

Other contaminants dissolve quickly into alkaline aqueous solutions with a pH of 7 and above, such as bleach and lye. Water-based cleaners, such as detergents and emulsifiers, contain other compounds that boost their cleaning profile.

Pros of water-based cleaners

  • Contain additives boost their cleaning profile
  • Eco-friendly and biodegradable
  • Different pH levels provide choices for various cleaning needs
  • Not flammable

Cons of water-based cleaners

  • The wrong pH can damage the colour of the material the sofa or carpet is made of
  • Don’t evaporate quickly and often require extra drying efforts
  • Narrow temperature range for hot cleaning – a maximum of 80C
  • High surface tension and require more moisture than solvents
  • Additives can be aggressive to parts of the sofa, such as metals, plastics or inks

Which tools do you need to clean your sofa & carpet?  

Every job requires the right tools to do well, and the same goes for cleaning your sofa and carpet. Depending on the method of cleaning you choose for your sofa and carpet, here are some of the tools you will need:

  • White towel to:
    • Check whether the pH of your cleaners affects the colour (professionals also carry a pH testing tool to test the solvents)
    • Check whether there’s still soil left on the sofa before drying begins
  • Gloves to protect your hands from the solvent
  • Arsenal of brushes – depending on the material your sofa is made of, you will need one or more of these brushes for different applications:
    • Velvet carding brush – brush with the edge to calm out the fibres before drying
    • Grooming brush – softer brass brush
    • Tamping brush -to tamp out moisture
    • Horse hair brush – won’t abraid the delicate fabric
  • Sheers for cutting loose strings fibres
  • Tabs to:
    • Cover buttons to prevent rust issues; 
    • Place under the legs of the furniture to avoid the bleeding dye on the carpet
  • A vacuum cleaner with a crevice tool to suck soil out of crevices 
  • Blacklight/UV light to check for invisible urine stains
  • Trigger sprayer (or a more ergonomic option) to spread cleaners on the surface
  • Sea-sponge to deliver dry foam and keep moisture down to a minimum.
  • Screen fabric, preferably fibreglass, to prevent damaging and fraying delicate material
  • Plastic bag to put cushions and distribute odour control products
  • Extraction tool with a pressure-adjusting valve

Which is better? Dry cleaning or hot water extraction?

You probably have heard of hot water extraction and dry cleaning methods, which are the most popular ways of cleaning a carpet. Is one better than the other? The answer is no. The method you choose to use to clean your carpet will depend on the material it is made of. 

NOTE: The first thing you should always do is check whether your cleaning agent will react with the material of your sofa and carpet. Apply some cleaners on a non-conspicuous area, and press the white towel hard. Hold on for a minute or two, and then check to see if any colour has migrated to the white towel. This will tell you if your cleaning compound is okay with your sofa and carpet. Check if your sofa and carpet have any cleaning instructions from the manufacturer.

A step-by-step guide on how to clean your sofa and carpet using hot water extraction

Now that we have all the tools we need and have chosen our selection of cleaners, the next step is to clean the sofa and carpet. From experience, if you are cleaning your sofa and carpet, starting with the sofa and then working on the carpet is advisable. This protects the carpet from overspray if you clean your couch after the carpet.

With hot water extraction, hot water mixed with cleaning agents is injected into the fibres to dissolve and lift the soil, which is then sucked out by the vacuum cleaner. It is very laborious and, if done incorrectly, can damage the material. As many people often do, don’t confuse it with steaming, which requires water to be heated to temperatures of up to 210 degrees Celsius, turning it into vapour to sanitise the carpet. 

#1 Pre-inspection 

Confirm the type of fibres your sofa or carpet has to ensure this method is the right for you, and identify stained areas.

#2 Vacuuming

Use a powerful vacuum thoroughly on the carpet to remove as much loose soil as possible.

#3 Pre-spraying

Spray a cleaning solution first to loosen the fibres. Don’t overspray to avoid adding excess moisture to the sofa or carpet. Give the solution time to work its magic.

#4 Agitation

Next, massage the cleaning solution to get it into the fibres and break down ingrained soils.

#5 Hot water extraction 

This process requires a high-pressure machine to inject water into the fibres and potent suction to extract as much moisture as possible.

#6 Post-cleaning 

This step involves inspecting the sofa or carpet to ensure no stains remain. None are found. Use the white towel to wipe the sofa to pick up any remaining soil. Finally, comb the fibres using a grooming brush to assist in drying. You can also use a turbo dryer.

A step-by-step guide on how to dry clean your sofa and carpet

This is the more straightforward method of cleaning your sofa and carpet and may sometimes deliver a better cleaning than hot water extraction, which is usually regarded as the more thorough method. Here are the steps to follow when using the dry cleaning method:

#1 Vacuuming 

First, vacuum the sofa or carpet to remove loose soil.

#2 Pre-treatment

Spray stained areas with a pre-treatment product so that the active ingredients break down dirt and stains to make them lift off the carpet more easily.

#3 Apply a dry cleaning agent 

Cover the sofa or carpet with a thin layer of your preferred dry cleaning compound, but apply a thicker layer on stained areas.

#4 Agitation

Brush the compound gently using a scrubbing brush with soft bristles to get the mixture into the fibres. Allow the cleaning compound about thirty minutes to work in the threads.

#5 Vacuuming

Go over the carpet with a vacuum to remove as much of the compound as possible. You may need to go through the process again over stained areas.

Final Thoughts

How do you clean your sofa and carpet? We hope this is no longer a question for you and you are ready to give your sofas and carpets the clean look and freshness it needs. If you don’t want to do it yourself, our carpet and upholstery cleaning team of experts is just a phone call away, and you can bet we’ll do a fantastic job and leave your house sparkling clean, fresh, and inviting for your family and guests.