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How to Deodorize Your Sofa

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To deodorize fabric upholstered sofas (the most common) and get rid of unpleasant smells follow these steps:

1: Vacuum the sofa to get rid of hair and stray dirt.
2: Sprinkle baking soda on the affected area.
3: Let the baking soda sit for at least 15 minutes.
4: Use your vacuum to remove the powder and residue.

Learning how to deodorize sofa cushions and upholstery can keep your furniture fresh and clean.

It might look spotless, but your sofa could be harboring everything from skin oils to pet dander! Over time, odor-causing bacteria can take hold, resulting in a smelly couch that no one wants to sit on.

Instead of masking those unpleasant smells, here are some ways to get rid of it once and for all!

What You’ll Need to Deodorize Your Sofa

  • Microfiber cloth
  • Empty spray bottle
  • Mixing bowl
  • Gentle brush
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Vacuum cleaner attachments
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Castile soap
  • Laundry detergent
  • Water

Vinegar Alternative

If you don’t want to use vinegar, you can swap it out for vodka. The spirit has the same deodorizing capabilities. You might want to use it if you do not want to deal with the strong smell of vinegar.

However, we always recommend sticking to vinegar if possible. It’s much cheaper. While vinegar does have a smell, it usually goes away quickly. It may take longer for the alcoholic smell of vodka to dissipate.

Castile Soap Alternative

The Castile soap will remove odors from leather and vinyl materials. There are specially made cleaners available for those upholstery materials. But, Castile soap is far better.

It’s gentler and does not leave behind a chemical residue. Furthermore, Castile soap works to condition and moisturize the leather.

Deodorizing Natural Fabric Upholstery

Fabrics with natural fibers, such as cotton, are notorious for holding onto smells for a long time! Those fibers easily absorb liquids and oils, making it more difficult to remove unpleasant stains.

Luckily, you can get the job done with only a few simple ingredients.

Step 1: Vacuum the Sofa

The first thing you need to do is get rid of stray crumbs or loose hair that might be clinging to the upholstery. To do that, just use your vacuum cleaner and a brush attachment.

The brush will dislodge any stubborn grime. Make sure to cover all of the cushions, the back, and the armrests. Check out this video from DIY Pinto to see how you can clean your sofa efficiently.

Step 2: Create Vinegar Solution

Vinegar is an excellent all-natural cleaner. It’s an acetic acid, so it naturally neutralizes alkaline odor. It can also kill some of those odor-causing bacteria.

Mix about 1 cup of vinegar to 1 cup of water in your spray bottle. Give the bottle a good shake and you’re good to go!

1 Cup Vinegar 1 Cup Water

Step 3: Spray Your Sofa

Spray the upholstery over the couch, paying close attention to where the smell is the worst.

The fabric should be damp but not soaking. Open up some windows and let the vinegar solution air dry.

The acid will dissolve the residue. However, it won’t harm the fabric like some commercial deodorizers.

Spray Sofa After Testing in Small Area

How to Deodorize a Synthetic Fabric Sofas

Synthetic fabrics, such as nylon and polyester, are a bit different than natural alternatives. They don’t absorb liquids as efficiently as something like cotton. Thus, you’re going to have to use a different method to deodorize.

In this technique, you’ll be using baking soda!

Step 1: Sprinkle Baking Soda

This deodorizing technique is very simple. All you have to do is sprinkle some baking soda onto the synthetic fabric upholstery. 

Baking soda is relatively neutral on the pH scale. When you sprinkle it on top of the upholstery, it absorbs both acidic and basic odors. Because the powder is neutral, it effectively neutralizes the smell!

Let the baking soda sit for at least 15 minutes. For more serious odors, consider leaving it overnight to work its magic.

Step 2: Vacuum Up the Baking Soda Powder

After the baking soda removes the odors, you can use your vacuum to remove it. We recommend using a flat attachment to ensure that you’re not leaving behind a fine layer of powder.

Dispose of the powder and your couch should be as good as new!

Vacuuming baking soda off of couch
how to deodorize couch or sofa

Deodorizing a Velvet Couch

Velvet is a plush fabric with a lot to offer in the comfort department. While the dense pile is great on the skin, it also harbors odors pretty easily.

To get rid of them, you’ll need to use baking soda and lemon juice.

Step 1: Create Your Cleaning Solution

Like vinegar, lemon juice is a natural acid. It also has some great antimicrobial properties to get rid of the bacteria that are causing odors. Plus, it leaves behind a pleasant smell!

Mix about a tablespoon of citric acid to a tablespoon of lemon juice in a bowl. The mixture should start foaming up nicely.

Mix Citric Acid and Lemon Juice

Step 2: Lightly Clean the Upholstery

Using your microfiber cloth, gently apply the cleaning solution to the velvet.

Be very light here! You don’t want to rub the mixture into the fabric. The key is to make light contact with the piles.

After you have treated the smelly area, let your sofa dry for several hours before using it.

Cleaning velvet couch with mico fiber cloth to deodorize it

Removing Odors from a Leather a Sofa

Despite its smooth texture, real leather can still absorb moisture and smells. It’s a permeable material with pores. Sofa manufacturers can apply a protective treatment to improve water and odor resistance, but that often fades with time.

To clean leather safely, you must use a gentle cleaning solution like Castile soap.

This method also works with faux leather or vinyl.

Step 1: Dilute the Soap with Water

Castile soap is a safe cleaning product. It’s made out of vegetable oils rather than chemicals. Thus, it can condition the leather upholstery of your couch while removing any odor-causing gunk.

To make it easier to work with, dilute a teaspoon of soap with about a cup of warm water.

Step 2: Clean the Offending Area

Next, use your microfiber cloth to clean the leather material. Just dip it in the mixture, wring out any excess, and wipe the leather clean!

Step 3: Remove Any Excess Cleaner

It doesn’t take long for the cleaner to dry after a quick wipe-down. But, you might want to remove any residue that accumulates.

Dip a new cloth in some clean water. Go over the area you cleaned to ensure that no soap gets left behind.

Cleaning and Deodorizing Suede Sofas

Suede is another posh upholstery material that has a penchant for holding onto odors.

Technically, suede is just leather. However, manufacturers use the underside of the animal to give it that signature fuzzy feel. 

The best way to deodorize suede is to utilize the same vinegar and water mixture as you would with natural fabric upholstery

Step 1: Vacuum the Suede

Before you do anything, it’s a good idea to vacuum your sofa. Suede easily holds onto dust and grime. Getting rid of all of that will ensure that you’re not spreading it further.

vacuuming suede couch

Step 2: Mixing the Vinegar and Water

Mix equal parts vinegar and water. You can place this in a bowl or pour it into a spray bottle. The application method for this cleaning tip is a bit different. But, how you store the solution won’t affect your results.

Step 3: Apply and Scrub

Next, you’ll want to use a soft-bristle brush to work the mixture into the suede.

You can dip the brush into a bowl or spray the affected area first. The choice is yours. 

Work the mixture in and make sure that the entire smelly area is damp. Then, let it dry! The vinegar smell will fade as the material dries, leaving behind a neutral smell with no lasting odor.


What did you think of our sofa-deodorizing tutorial? Did you like it?

These simple cleaning techniques are all you need to get rid of stubborn smells. While commercial deodorizers are available, sometimes simpler is better. Many products just aren’t as effective as natural ingredients around the home.

Not only that, but many mask the odor rather than removing it.

With these deodorizing methods, you can restore the fresh neutral smell of your couch without spending much money at all! There’s no need to invest in deep cleaning services. Just use what you have!

Let us know what you think in the comments below. If you liked our tips, feel free to share them!

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