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Can You Use a Carpet Cleaner on a Couch?

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Most stains on your couch mean pulling out a damp cloth to blot it away. But what if the stains are large, or what if your couch starts to smell. A small cloth probably won’t get the job done.

A carpet cleaner would sound like a good alternative. Capable of tackling tough flooring jobs, most of them also have attachments to use on upholstery.

Before you pull out your carpet cleaner, you’ll want to know whether it’ll work and how to use it. We put together this article to help answer those questions. We hope you find it highly informational.

Can you use a carpet cleaner on a couch?

Vacuum Couch

Carpet cleaners are designed to tackle tough stain and odor problems on fabric, so it probably just seems like the answer to whether you can use one of your couch is yes. The actual answer is that it depends on what your couch’s care tag says.

The care tag will have code on it to identify what you can use to clean your couch. You’ll find one of four different letter combinations: X, W, S, W/S.

An X means that you can only use a vacuum to clean your couch. If you have stains or an odor that a vacuum can’t pick up, don’t use a carpet cleaner on it.

An S means that you can only use solvent-based cleaners on it. These products work similar to a dry cleaning of clothing. You can vacuum the cleaner, but you won’t want to use a carpet cleander on these couches.

A W means that you can use a water-based cleaner. These are your more traditional cleaning products and include solutions with vinegar. You can use a carpet cleaner to clean these, although check to make sure your couch is safe to use steam on.

A W/S code means you can use both water-based and solvent cleaners on your couch. This means it’s safe to use any cleaning product on your couch and they are generally the most forgiving. You can use a carpet cleaner on these.

How do you clean a couch with a carpet cleaner?


Cleaning a couch with a carpet cleaner isn’t all that different than cleaning a carpet with a carpet cleaner. The biggest difference is that you’ll want to use your upholstery attachment rather than running your carpet cleaner over it like your couch is the floor.

Start with a good, thorough vacuuming. If the odor you want to tackle is caused by a piece of food hidden in a nook where the couch fabric meets, you might even get rid of the odor this way and save yourself a lot of time and hassle.

Next, you’ll want to get the right detergent for the stain you want to get out.

For general cleaning or a stain caused by something simple like dirt, you can use a basic cleaning solution. If the stain is caused by something like animal urine, you might need to get a specialized enzyme-based cleaner.

Check your care tag to make sure you can use steam on your couch. While it’s usually okay on general fabric, you’ll want to take care of couch upholstery like leather or suede.

Once you’ve figured out what kind of detergent is appropriate for your couch and whether you can use steam, fill the reservoir with water and soap. Usually, a good rule-of-thumb is three ounces of cleaner in a reservoir of hot water.

If your couch can stand steam, turn on the carpet cleaner so it can warm up. While this takes place, connect your furniture attachment to the carpet cleaner hose. These work just like a vacuum cleaner attachment.

Once you have your water heated and your carpet cleaner ready to go, clean your couch by spraying the cleaner on either the soiled area or across the entire upholstery in even strokes.

Your detergent bottle or cleaner manual will tell you how long you can allow it to set before lifting it off. It might require a few minutes to loosen whatever has stained your couch.

Lift the soap and dirt off with the furniture attachment like you’d use a vacuum cleaner.

Which carpet cleaners work well on a couch?

If you’re looking for the best carpet cleaner for your couch, you’ll want to start with portable carpet cleaners. A traditional carpet cleaner looks and functions like a fancy vacuum cleaner, but you don’t want to run wheels over your couch.

Portable units are smaller than traditional carpet cleaners, which means they’re easier to get out and set up. You can also more easily move them around your couch as you clean it.

Portable units also come with cleaning attachments that you’ll need to clean your couch. They might even come with special attachments for different kinds of fabric.

If your couch can handle steam, then look for a portable cleaner capable of heating its own water. It can’t be stressed enough that hot water helps to loosen most stains to make them easier to clean off your fabric.

It will cost you a little extra money, but if it helps you keep your couch looking fresh and spotless it’ll be worth the investment.


Before you take your smelly couch to a professional for an expensive cleaning, you should stop to consider alternatives. One of those is your carpet cleaner, which not only produces the steam necessary to get out stains and smells but probably also has a built-in attachment.

You’ll want to know what kinds of carpet cleaners will work on your couch and how to clean it first, however. Getting it wrong doesn’t just mean setting a stain deeper into the fabric, it could mean ruining the couch.

We hope you found our advice on how to do it properly helpful. If you did or feel like you have something to add, feel free to leave a comment. Consider sharing this on your social media networks. You never know who’s got their own filthy couch problem.

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