Flowers on white wooden table next to navy blue suede couch

How to Clean Your Suede or Microsuede Couch

Suede is such a popular material for a sofa because it is soft, lightly furry, warm and comfortable; a wonderful place to cuddle with your significant other, your kids, or your pets. But all that cuddling will eventually lead to the dirtying of your beautiful couch, and you will need to know how to get it clean and looking new again. Read on for the best ways to clean your suede couch.

The first thing you will need to do is to find out (if you don’t already know) what type of suede your couch is made from. Originally, suede was made from the very soft inner lining of animal skins after the outer layer had been removed, most often sheep skins. These days, however, there are a number of microfiber versions of the material which provide a similar look and feel without the disadvantages of the real thing.

Sheep skin suede is beautifully soft, and maintains the animal skin pattern which adds a pretty texture, but like any leather, it is very susceptible to water damage, and one big spill could mean the end of your expensive couch.

Microfiber suede may not have exactly the natural look and feel of leather suede, but it is lightweight, cheap, more durable, and easier to clean.

Whichever type of suede couch you have, or are wanting to buy, we have the best tips on how to protect and clean it. Once you know which type of suede your couch is made from you will be able to determine which of the following cleaning methods will best suit your situation.

But before you begin the actual cleaning process, whichever method you choose, do a small spot test on a hidden area of the couch to make sure there are no adverse effects on the fabric.

Doing this a day before you aim to clean the couch will ensure you know the realistic results.

Prevention

Prevention is often the first suggestion we have. To prevent your suede couch from getting stained or damaged, start by spraying it with a suede stain repellant, or having the manufacturer do it for you if you are buying the couch new. If you are planning to spray it yourself, make sure that your warranty will still be valid if you do. Then spray the sofa as evenly as possible, up to three times for the best results, and allow it to dry for at least 12 hours. Do not sit on it or place anything on it while it is drying.

Secondly, come up with a cleaning timetable that includes weekly vacuuming of your couch. Use a vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment, which will allow you to get into all the corners, and be sure to remove the cushions and clean underneath them. Cleaning the dust and dirt off your sofa will prolong its lifespan and protect the fabric.

After vacuuming the couch, brush it down with a suede nap brush for a final dust removal step, but don’t brush with the grain of the nap (the hair-like fibers of the suede). Rather brush in circular or crisscross patterns, as this will help to remove dust that is buried under the fibers. During your weekly clean is a good time to rotate your cushions if they are identical – this will even out the wear on the cushions and prolong their lifespan a bit.

Cleaning a Suede Leather Couch

Suede leather is very thin, and can be easily damaged, so you will want to be very careful when cleaning your suede leather couch. Water will cause permanent damage to the sofa, so your cleaning options are limited. Our first recommendation is to get a professional to come and clean your couch, but if you can’t:

  • Make sure you have proper equipment specifically made for suede.
  • Buy a suede cleaner that is made for leather suede, and is recommended by the manufacturer of your sofa, if possible.
  • Buy a suede nap brush and a suede eraser.
  • Clean the couch by closely following the instructions on the bottle of cleaning solution, and using the suede eraser for stubborn marks.

Extra tips:

  • To clean grease stains off your suede leather couch, cover the stain with talc powder or corn starch and allow it to absorb the grease before vacuuming it off.
  • To clean off a blood stain, mix up some dish soap and water to make a very frothy solution, and using a dry, clean sponge, scoop up only the foam without any water, and rub it on the stain.
  • Sand paper can be used to gently remove stubborn stains – do not scrub hard or you will remove the soft layer of nap.

Cleaning a Faux Suede Sofa

Before cleaning you will need to find out which cleaning method is recommended for your particular couch. To do this, look for the manufacturer’s cleaning label. There should be one of the following letters on the label, which will tell you how to proceed:

  • W – this couch is water safe, and can be cleaned using a water-based cleaning solution.
  • S – this couch is not water safe, and must be cleaned using a solvent-based furniture cleaner.
  • W-S – this couch can be cleaned with either a water or solvent-based cleaning solution.
  • X – do not clean this couch with any form of liquid. Vacuum and brush it clean only, or have a professional clean it for you.

Once you know which type of cleaning solution you will need, you may continue to the next step. Be sure to vacuum and brush the couch down to remove dust and dirt before applying your chosen cleaning solution. Then check if your cushion covers are removable and machine washable, as this will significantly lessen your workload, but be sure to follow the instructions on the label very closely. When you apply the cleaning solution to your couch, be sure to work on only a small area at a time, and do not allow the solution to soak into the fabric – apply, rub in, rub off, and use a sponge to soak up excess fluid before moving on to the next section of couch.

Choose from the following cleaning methods, depending on the label on your sofa:

  • Use a manufacturer recommended solvent or suede cleaner, and follow the instructions closely.
  • Use a combination of baking soda, white vinegar and dish soap: do not soak the fabric – just spray the couch lightly with the solution, and rub it down with a soft towel or suede cleaning cloth, in circular motions. Once it is dry, use a suede nap brush to return it to its original look.
  • Use a suede eraser to remove stubborn stains, and brush off the resulting mess with a suede nap brush.
  • For very bad stains, try using a cotton pad soaked in rubbing alcohol or vodka. Alcohol-based hand wipes are excellent for this purpose. Rub the stained area well.
  • Use baking soda or white vinegar to improve odors, but be sure to adhere to your label.
  • For couches marked with W, use warm water and dish soap, but avoid letting it soak in too much.
  • For oil stains, rub with white vinegar, followed by a light water wipe down (W only).
  • Steam cleaning can only be safely done on W couches as well.
Learn how to safely clean your microfiber couch.

How to Clean Spills from Your Suede Couch

Obviously the best way to avoid stains is to not spill anything on your couch in the first place, but if you do, in the case of a microsuede couch, be sure to mop up the liquid as quickly as possible with a clean, dry cloth, followed by a damp cloth if necessary to absorb all the fluid – microfiber couches generally repel liquids, and it shouldn’t soak in too fast. Press gently to avoid pressing the liquid into the fabric. On a larger spill, you can cover the area with baking soda, and allow it to absorb the liquid before vacuuming it up.

In the case of a leather suede couch, which is more absorbent, do not dab at the spill at all. Rather cover the wet area with talc powder or corn starch, and allow it to dry completely before vacuuming it off. Water can cause irreparable damage to suede leather, so if you own this type of couch, be extra vigilant about not spilling on it.