How to clean a sofa with a steamer

Updated February 21, 2017

Fabric upholstery can get very dirty from pets, food or drink spills and everyday use. Upholstery steamers clean deep down in the fabric to remove any tough dirt and stains you can't get rid of with vacuuming alone. The heat from the steam combined with manual scrubbing action and cleaning solution can make your old dingy sofa look like new. Always check your sofa's care tag or manual to make sure the fabric is water-safe before cleaning with a steamer.

Remove any cushions or pillows from the sofa.

Vacuum the sofa and cushions thoroughly with an upholstery attachment. This prevents the steamer from clogging with pet hair or lint during the cleaning process.

Fill the steam cleaner with hot water and upholstery cleaning solution according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Clean the sofa with the upholstery attachment according to the manufacturer's instructions. Work on one small area at a time, starting at the top or back of the sofa. Dispense enough solution to thoroughly wet the upholstery, scrubbing with the attachment as you go.

Empty the steamer and refill it with clean water. Repeat the cleaning process with pure water to rinse the sofa of any product residue.

Open any windows and turn on a fan to speed up the drying time. Depending on the type of fabric and amount of cleaning needed, the sofa could take up to a day to dry.


Test the cleaning solution on a hidden spot before cleaning the entire sofa to avoid fading or damage.

Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum
  • Upholstery cleaning solution
  • Fan (optional)
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About the Author

Melissa Rae has been a writer since 2008, specializing in home-and-garden, business, technology and education topics. Rae holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Herzing University.