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How to steam clean a sofa

A sofa is a central feature of modern life.  It is where we spend much of our down time.  Inevitably, with time, it will attract the grime and dirt of life.  Regular cleaning is useful both in keeping it clean and prolonging its life.

The basic principle with steam cleaning is that the use of steam, and heat, is effective at removing even stubborn grease and grime.  The steam weakens the grip that the grime has.  It is therefore an effective way of cleaning a sofa without the need for chemicals.  This is important because many sofas can be damaged by using chemicals.  Start by checking the cleaning code on the sofa.  There are four codes, W”, “S”, “S-W” or “X. 

‘W’ stands for ‘water’, and means that you should only use a water-based product, such as soap or washing liquid for this type of sofa.  Using a product with alcohol in it could be damaging to the sofa.  Remember also to use water sparingly.  The aim is to have the sofa dampened, not wet.

‘S’ stands for water-free solvents, such as rubbing alcohol, clear alcohol and dry-cleaning solvents.  Baby wipes are ideal for a leather product.

WS or SW means water-based and dry solvents can be used.  This can include shampoo.  This is perhaps the easiest option.  As a note of caution, apply the solvent to the sofa with a cloth, and not directly, because this can cause damage to the fabric.

‘X’ is not so self-explanatory in that it doesn’t relate to a letter in the word, but means ‘don’t’.  It means that the fabric is particularly delicate and should only be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner.  In this case, if you have a spillage, you will need to employ a specialist cleaning company to clean the fabric.  Sorry!

Remember you can also clean upholstery with a steam cleaner

Once you have worked out the approach, you are ready for the next stage.  Treat any individual stain with a stain removal product (it is best to use a spot test first before you launch into cleaning the whole sofa, just in case) and then vacuum clean the sofa to remove any surface grime, dog hairs, crumbs and the plethora of detritus that seems to be attracted to the modern sofa.  Not only will these get in the way, they could interfere in the cleaning process. 

If there are any oil-based stains, dry dapping them with baking soda mixed with water, before you start the main clean.  And if your cleaning comes with a special brush, use it as it will have been designed with the fabric of the sofa in mind.

Start by taking off all of the covers and systematically run the steam cleaner over them, making sure that you don’t leave any spots.  And whilst it may be tempting to linger over any stains, this is not a good idea; it may damage the fabric. Sadly, the cleaner may not be able to remove all stains completely, although the sofa will look better, and cleaner.

When you clean the base, do this in small portions so that the sofa will have time to dry.  Too much water can damage the fabric and remember to let the cushions to dry away from the sofa.  If you have limited time for the drying to be completed, you could use a hair dryer to speed the process, holding it 10cm from the fabric and using the low heat setting.

Steam cleaning windows

Cleaning a leather sofa is different.  Here, start by making a cleaning solution with half a cup of vinegar and half a cup of linseed oil in hot water.  Then carefully dab it over the leather with a damp cloth.  Let it dry for an hour or so.  Then start the steam cleaning process, starting with the back of the sofa and moving forwards, focusing on the inner section. Then remove any moisture left behind and leave the sofa to dry.

Velvet sofas need regular cleaning to maintain their look and ‘special’ touch.  Use the steam cleaner at a low heat and run it over the fabric at a steady pace without lingering.  When you have finished, use a soft brush to remove any matting from the surface. 

This method is not recommended for crushed velvet, because the steam can damage the crushed appearance.

As you can see steam cleaning is great way to both refresh and clean your furniture, leaving it looking clean and newer and without the need for an array of chemicals. You just have to remember to follow the simple rules as explained above.

Pressure washers are also a highly useful piece of cleaning equipment, see our guide

For more informations call us on : 01406 426513

or write to: paul.seaman@hortechsystems.co.uk