How to clean a suede sofa

The first most important thing you need to do is to find a suede cleaner. The “more complicated” situation with cleaning suede is that you can’t just take any cleaning materials at home and hope it works. There are huge NO-NOs when it comes to suede, and those are:

  • No bleach
  • No vinegar (on real suede)
How to clean a suede sofa

Table of Contents

There is something luxurious in a suede sofa or a bench. It gives a feeling of comfort, and it completes the aesthetic of the room. The material is so soft that when you sit, you never want to leave it. Everything made out of suede, not only upholstery, looks elegant. This indulgence comes with a price, not just monetary but also the maintenance. When we talk about suede, not everyone is well aware of what the material is made out of. Genuine suede is made out of animal material, that’s why it is so soft and expensive. For all animal lovers out there, or for people that don’t want to spend an extensive amount of money on a couch, there is something called “suedette”. It is an imitation of the look and feel of suede, but it is made out of cotton or other likewise materials, and it is much cheaper than the real suede. Because the material is fuzzy, a lot of dirt can build up. It becomes harder to clean a spill or a stain because it’s not just a flat surface that you can wipe. You have to consider a few particular things that have to when talking about suede.

How to clean a suede sofa

The first most important thing you need to do is to find a suede cleaner. The “more complicated” situation with cleaning suede is that you can’t just take any cleaning materials at home and hope it works. There are huge NO-NOs when it comes to suede, and those are:

  • No bleach
  • No vinegar (on real suede)
How to clean a suede sofa

Those type of acids may ruin your beautiful expensive couch. You should be able to find such a cleaner in a shop for domestic supplies, or you can look it up on the internet. A good practice is first to check the tag on your couch, or any description you may have in the documentation about what type of cleaner to use. If you don’t have one, you will need to experiment. Don’t dive in head first, test in a small area, somewhere on the back, so it’s invisible if something wrong happens. Suede cleaners can be very heavy on your lungs when working with them. Make sure the room is well-ventilated. You can even wear a paper mask to avoid breathing in. You will also need a vacuum cleaner, a suede napping brush and a dry sponge. You can find the brush in most of the shoe shops, or you can find on online. Additional things you will have to buy if you don’t have them randomly laying around in your house is brown eraser (or a suede eraser) and a waterproofing spray (or stain repellent for suede). You can go without the waterproofing spray for the cleaning. Its purpose is to protect your suede for the future.

Steps for maintenance

If your couch is relatively new and there aren’t any spills and spots yet, don’t just neglect to maintain the couch. Regularly vacuum the furniture by removing all the cushions and going into the gaps. Cover the whole surface with the vacuum but be careful not to use any hard-plastic attachment as it may scratch the suede. This will take out the dirt that loves hiding in the soft material. Put back the cushions and take the suede brush. Go over the surface with it so you can remove any left hair or dirt. If you have a dog or a cat, this step is necessary as the vacuum cleaner is not enough. Take your stain repellent for suede and spray the couch. You have to make sure you have covered every single centimetre of it so the repellent can work. Usually, two or three layers are needed to be on the safe side.

Oh no. Spills and dry spots on my suede couch!

You may have had a party at your home. Ten of your closest friends are in your living room laughing, drinking, and snacking. They move cushions around so they can feel comfortable and because you have good friends, when it is about time to leave, they put everything back from where it was taken. You decide to perform your regular maintenance of the couch a few days later, and when you lift one of the cushions, there is a crusty oily stain. Don’t faint just yet. Your expensive couch is not ruined, you can clean it up.

Take some corn-starch from your kitchen. Pat a small amount on the stain, just enough to cover it don’t go outside of the stain as it may spread it. Leave the corn-starch sitting on the greasy stain overnight. The starch will absorb the oils so the next day you can use your vacuum to suck the powder. Take the brown gum eraser and rub it gently on the spot to remove whatever is left from the stain. You may have to repeat this step a few times. If the stain is dry, but there are no traces of oils, you can take your brush a rub it gently on the spot to break up and remove the dirt. Utilise the brown gum eraser again to get rid of the stains. The key with brushing a suede is to implement crossing motions. In that way, the dirt doesn’t get trapped again in the material.

I just spilt something on my suede sofa. How do I clean it?

You need to act fast when there is a wet stain on the suede. Grab a clean cloth and if you don’t have a suede cleaner right at the moment, dampen the fabric with a little bit of white vinegar. With cross-pattern moves go over the stain and remove the spill. Leave the surface to dry out, then grab your napping brush and gently brush it to bring back its form and shine.

How to clean a faux suede?

No matter faux or real, the vacuuming is an essential part when it comes to cleaning a sofa. Again, remove the cushions, and go into the crevasses of the couch to get rid of dust, dirt and hair that builds up. What faux suede furniture usually has (either on the furniture itself or in the documents of the furniture is labels. If you see a “W”, this means that you can employ a water-based cleaner for cleaning the surface, for example mixing soap and water. If you see an “S”, you will need to go for a solvent-based solution like alcohol or furniture spray. You may come across a combination of the two  “SW” meaning you can use both.

How to clean spilt liquids

You have to know that fake suede is water resistant. On one side this is good because the liquid doesn’t get soaked from the material. On the other hand, it can cause watermarking stains or change of dye. Take a dry cloth and dab the liquid, don’t smush it around. If you spill food, take something you can scoop the food immediately off the couch, so it doesn’t leave a stain.

Clean dry spots on faux suede

Check the furniture label and act according to it. Always test in a hidden area before you start cleaning on a more significant level, so you don’t ruin your couch. However, for most faux suede, the rubbing alcohol is a good option for a cleaner. Pour some liquid into a spray bottle and spray over the spot. Get a dry sponge and carefully rub the mark. Leave it to dry out.  When working with alcohol, you need a well-ventilated area because the fumes may be harmful. Clean the entire couch working in manageable sections.

Remove oily stains, stuck gum, or spilt wax

For the removal of oil, you can utilise the alcohol again. Before that use a cloth to soak the excess fat. Then use a cloth soaked with alcohol to get rid of the rest of the stain. Pat with a dry towel and this should do the job. If you have ever had gum stuck somewhere, you know what the issue is. It is stretchy and sticky, so take an ice cube and place it on top of the gum until it solidifies. Now you can proceed carefully to scraping it off with a spatula. For the waxy stain take a clean cloth and an iron. Set the iron on high heat and place the fabric over the stain. Rub the iron onto the cloth. In that way, the wax will melt and will lift from the surface of the fake suede.

Microfiber Couch

Those type of couches is neither real nor fake suede. They are again soft, but they are made of different materials. When it comes to cleaning one, recheck the labels. They have similar tags as the faux suede with the difference that there is an option “X” meaning that neither should be used and only a vacuum cleaner should be utilised. You will need the same type of materials to scrub off. The difference here with microfiber is that you can use baking soda to remove stains. Mix the soda with a little bit of water so a paste forms. Apply it on the stain and after a few minutes wipe it off.


The key to a brand-new looking suede couch is regular maintenance. No matter what type of material your furniture is made of, the moment you take care of occurring stains, the better for your couch. We spend a lot of time sitting on our couches, cuddling the pets and all this hair accumulates together with dust and dirt. So, take an hour during the weekend to vacuum and perform a quick brush on the couch, so it maintains its shine. If you think this exercise is impossible for you, you can always look for expert help.

Read more information about carpet cleaning London.

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