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How To Clean A Suede Couch

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Suede is a very soft, comfortable, and wear-resistant material that looks great on couches. Because of the way that the short fibers tend to bend in different ways, they can sometimes be a pain to clean if you aren’t quite sure of the process. Today we’ll show you how to clean a suede couch.

How To Clean A Suede Couch

Even though they can look similar, there are different types of suede that can make up the upholstery of a couch. It is essential to know which type of suede couch you have because they all use different cleaning tools and techniques.

Natural Suede Couches

Couches made from natural suede are the least common type of suede couch, not because they are unpopular, but because they are normally harder to maintain as well as being more expensive. These luxurious coverings will hold their shape longer, but can be difficult to keep stain-free. To clean them, you have to be very gentle.

Woman lying on a suede couch

Microfiber Suede Couches

Also known as microsuede, microfiber suede is a less expensive and more durable material than natural suede, while giving a similar look and feel. This material can generally be rubbed a little more harshly in order to remove dirt and stains, but there are sub-categories of it as well.

Check the label of your microfiber suede couch before deciding on what cleaning method to use. They will have the letter(s) W, S, S-W, or X.

  • “W“ sofas can be cleaned with a water-based solution.
  • “S“ sofas must be cleaned with a solvent. They will be stained by water.
  • “S-W“ sofas can be cleaned with either a solvent or water.
  • “X“ means that no liquid can be used on the sofa at all.

Cleaning a Natural Suede Couch

Once you have determined that you own a couch made from natural suede, you will need to collect certain tools and cleaning supplies to help you clean it. Everything listed in this cleaning section is meant to clean suede gently so that the material does not acquire permanent stains or damage.

Tools Needed to Clean a Natural Suede Couch

Get your items ready before you start cleaning so that you don’t have to stop in the middle and go grab a towel. This can happen at the worst moments, like when you overspray your cleaner on the upholstery and you need to stop it from dripping.

How To Clean a Natural Suede Couch

  1. If you are cleaning up a spill, blot away any liquid with a white towel or any undyed cloth. Do not scrub.
  2. Using a vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment, go over the entire couch to remove loose dirt, dust, or any debris that may have fallen between the cracks.
  3. Spray suede cleaner on the affected area. Only use the manufacturer’s recommended amount, and avoid saturating the material.
  4. If you are cleaning the entire couch, only spray one 2’-3’ area at a time. Start from the top, move across in a row, then move down to the next row.
  5. Blot the sprayed area with a white cloth until any stains are lifted. Do not scrub.
  6. If cleaning the entire couch, go back to Step 4 and repeat until the entire couch is cleaned. Check your cleaning cloth periodically and replace if it gets too dirty. Do not rinse with water!
  7. Let the couch air dry completely. Use a fan in the room is you would like to speed up the drying process.
  8. Gently brush the suede nap with the brush until the color, texture, and direction of the nap match in overlapping areas.
Clean suede couch

Alternative Cleaners for Natural Suede Couches

There are some other cleaners you can use on natural suede that you just may have around the house. These products do have their drawbacks, so be sure to test them in an inconspicuous area on the back of the couch before trying to use it on every surface.

Vinegar

Vinegar directly added to a clean, white cloth can be very effective at helping clean natural suede. As opposed to other times you might use vinegar to clean around the house, you will not want to mix it with water when cleaning suede.

To use vinegar to clean suede, follow the cleaning procedure above, just replace the Suede or Nubuck cleaner with vinegar.

Corn Starch

For spot cleaning oily or greasy spills like from salad dressing, corn starch can be effective on suede.

  1. Blot the spill with a clean cloth before doing anything else. Do not scrub. Try to pick up as much of the spill as possible.
  2. Cover the spill with corn starch.
  3. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Put a bit of vinegar on a clean cloth.
  5. Gently wipe the cornstarch and spill clean with the cloth. Use short strokes.
  6. Let dry (it should not take very long)
  7. Brush the nap with the suede brush, using gentle motions, and match the nap with the rest of the suede couch.

Cleaning a Microfiber Suede Couch

If your suede couch is made from microfiber, you will be able to get away with using some elbow grease in cleaning, but make sure you are using the correct cleaning solution, based on the couch label (see above).

If you have a W-labeled couch, we recommend using a spray bottle with warm water and a few drops of dish washing liquid.

Family sitting on a couch

For an S-labeled couch, use a spray bottle filled with rubbing alcohol.

  1. Blot away any liquid that is sitting on the surface with a clean towel.
  2. Vacuum the couch using an upholstery attachment. Get every surface that you can, even if you are only spot cleaning.
  3. Spray the area you want to clean with the correct cleaner. If the couch has an X-label, do not go any farther, and call a professional cleaner if necessary.
  4. Try to use a blotting motion with a white cloth to clean the affected area, but if it is not coming out, you can try to rub the microfiber more strongly.
  5. Avoid using too much liquid. Once microfiber becomes saturated, it can change color.
  6. Let the couch dry if necessary.
  7. Use a soft bristled brush (as opposed to a brass suede brush) to bring the nap back to its original softness.
  8. Try to match up the nap directions across the entire couch.

Microfiber Suede Couch Tips

Whether you used the wrong cleaner, or maybe someone just spilled a drink on it, the S-labeled suede couches can acquire water stains pretty easily. Use a baby wipe to dampen the area, blot with a white cloth, and then dry it as quickly as possible. A fan or a hair dryer can help, but do not use too high of heat.

For W-labeled suede couches, remove all of the microfiber covers and wash them in the washing machine on a gentle cycle with a small amount of detergent. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to see if they can be placed in the dryer as well.

Conclusion

Suede couches are a little more finicky to clean than a couch upholstered with normal fabric, but it is hard to pass up the luxury of that material as we are sitting down watching a movie. When you know how to clean a suede couch, whether it is natural or microsuede, it will make you much more comfortable with people enjoying themselves on it.

Allen Michael is the Founder and Editor of Home Viable, a website that he started to provide readers with tips on home efficiency and automation. He draws on his engineering background combined with his family-of-four experiences for his articles.