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How to Disinfect a Couch (By Type of Material)

How to Disinfect a Couch (By Type of Material)

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The lounge is rarely vacant—people don’t just sit or take naps on it; more often than not, they eat on it, too. For these reasons, it’s among the dirtiest furniture in our home.

Even more so if you have small children and pets. So, how to disinfect couch and keep it sanitary?

There are many ways to do this and the methods may vary by the kind of upholstery it has. We’ll go through the details in a while, so stick around.

General Tips on How to Disinfect Couch

Different upholstery materials require different approaches. Still, they share similar cleaning principles.

Take a look.

1 – Vacuum Your Couch

Regardless of the kind of fabric or upholstery material, begin the disinfecting process by vacuuming your couch. This will remove the crumbs and dust that accumulated over time.

If you don’t do this, the grime could turn muddy once you apply moisture, especially during a steam cleaning. The particles may also stand in the way of the disinfectant, making it less effective.

When vacuuming, give extra attention to inward corners.

It’s only reasonable to give a little more effort into the nooks and crannies. After all, it’s the favorite hideout for scraps, lint, and pennies, not to mention that earring you lost six years ago.

That said, be particularly cautious about food bits as these usually attract pests and bacteria. While wearing gloves, pick out the bigger articles by hand before vacuuming to avoid damaging your cleaning equipment.

2 – Check the Tag

To know the right method to use for cleaning your couch, go over the tag. It’ll tell you important information, such as the materials it’s made of as well as washing instructions.

For example, if you see the letter W on your sofa tag, that means you can clean it with water. If you see an S, though, then you should use solvent-based products.

If it’s marked with a WS, it simply means that you can use either of the two. However, if you see an X, then stick to the vacuum and nothing more.

3 – Do a Spot Test

Let’s say you haven’t cleaned your couch in years and you’re eager to smother it with cleanser. We get it, but that wouldn’t be a good idea.

Even if you’ve read the tag and you’re sure that the fabric and cleaner are compatible, test it out first. To do this, pick an inconspicuous area, like the underside of the cushions.

Wipe or spray a small amount of your disinfectant of choice and wait a few minutes. Look out for any reaction, like discoloration, an odd smell, or thinning of the material.

Unless it’s a homemade disinfectant, we don’t know all the substances in it. We’re not sure how it would react to the dye that manufacturers may have used on the upholstery either. So, it’s best to do a spot test first.

4 – Disinfect Regularly

Ideally, you should disinfect your couch at least once a year. However, if you have toddlers or pets in the household, we recommend doing it every three to four months.

Disinfecting is one thing, but doing it regularly is another. The frequency is important in keeping the grime manageable.

In other words, get rid of unpleasant odors and allergens before they become a nuisance.

3 Ways to Disinfect Your Couch

Certain kinds of materials may react differently to a disinfecting product. Therefore, you must apply a specific approach for certain upholsteries in addition to the spot test.

1 – Using Disinfecting Spray

For fabric couches, it’s generally safe to use a store-bought disinfecting spray. These products are usually compatible with most upholstery materials.

Alternatively, you can mix up your own rubbing alcohol solution. This would be helpful if you have allergies or if you’re just not in favor of strong fragrances. Here’s how:

  1. The recommended ratio is two cups of rubbing alcohol into one cup of water. Either isopropyl or ethanol will do.
  2. Put the mixture in a spray bottle.
  3. Apply until the entire couch is damp but not wet.
  4. Allow the couch to air dry completely before using it again.

Be sure to open the windows to allow air movement before spraying. Then, wear a mask over your nose and mouth, along with a pair of gloves.

2 – Using a Steam Cleaner

If your sofa is constantly exposed to heavy usage, consider investing in a steam cleaner. We recommend this for a household with more than five members or those with children and pets.

This may also be appropriate for couches in office or commercial establishments. Here’s how to disinfect the couch with a steam cleaner:

  1. Check the tag on your sofa and see if it’s safe for steam-cleaning.
  2. Vacuum carefully and completely.
  3. Fill up the steam cleaner’s reservoir with distilled water. Purified water will do, but distilled isn’t likely to scale the tank in the long run.
  4. Spot test on a concealed portion just in case of an unforeseen effect.
  5. If the spot test came out clear, run across all areas of the couch thoroughly.
  6. Don’t stay in a single spot too long to avoid uneven and excessive saturation.

3 – By Wiping It Down

Some materials are better off wiped down than sprayed on. We’re talking about non-absorbent fabrics such as natural and faux leather.

These are among the most durable furniture upholstery in the market. Still, they need specific TLC to make them last for as long as possible.

Further, natural leather may require a milder approach than its synthetic counterpart. For example, you may clean faux leather with a commercial disinfecting liquid or the aforementioned alcohol solution.

On the other hand, you need a non-acidic soapy water solution to clean authentic leather. To do this, follow the steps below:

  1. Prepare your cleaning solution. That’s one-third anti-bacterial soap and three-fourths water.
  2. Dip a clean towel into the solution and wring out excess liquid.
  3. Don’t soak the towel. Remember that we only need it to be damp and not wet.
  4. Wipe down the entire couch.
  5. Allow it to air dry completely before using it again.
  6. You may use a blow dryer, but keep it in the lowest setting. Additionally, hold it at least a foot away from the leather to prevent damage.

6 Most Common Couch Materials

Check out the list of the different upholstery fabrics and their description below. This should help you identify the material on your couch and decide which disinfecting method to use.

1 – Cotton

Cotton is probably among the most popular and versatile fabrics for furniture. Most of the time, it’s combined with other materials to make it sturdier and more attractive.

Other times, manufacturers adjust the thread count to make it even more budget-friendly. So, you may inquire about this when choosing a couch with cotton upholstery.

100% cotton is a breathable fabric, thus, hypoallergenic. This is another reason why it’s so popular among furniture makers.

We can’t say the same for the cushion underneath it, though. So, consider this if you’re thinking of skipping the disinfection schedule just because your couch has a cotton surface.

2 – Polyester

Polyester is a synthetic fiber, which is also popular among furniture makers. It’s the polar opposite of cotton, yet often combined to satisfy specific purposes.

Some of the qualities of polyester that make it a suitable upholstery fabric are its resistance to water, stains, and abrasion. They’re slightly breathable and dry quickly too.

On top of that, polyester sofas are typically cheaper than those made of cotton but are as comfortable. Appearance-wise, polyester is more lustrous-looking than cotton.

So, for this kind of fabric, you may disinfect it by spraying it.

3 – Velvet

Velvet sofas are usually under the luxe category of furniture. This material is expensive and requires extra effort in maintenance.

It’s made of a dense pile of fibers that are short, soft, and evenly cut. Traditionally, velvet is made of silk, but you can find those made of cotton and other synthetic fibers, too.

Since it’s shaggy, disinfecting a velvet couch would need a more thorough vacuuming. This is to take out the dust that may have lodged deep into the fibers.

You may also consider disinfecting it more frequently than you would cotton.

Additionally, expect velvet to take a bit longer to dry up after spraying. It should only take minutes, though, especially if you’re using rubbing alcohol as it’s a volatile liquid.

4 – Silk

Contrary to popular belief, silk can be a durable sofa material. It’s preferred by some people because of its versatility when it comes to aesthetics.

It’s breathable and sustainable like cotton, and dust particles slide right off, so it’s definitely a hypoallergenic option. Silk can be quite expensive, though, but looking at its advantages, it may be a worthy investment.

To keep it sanitary, only dry cleaning will work for silk couches. Don’t be fooled by acetate, however. It was created to imitate silk, but it’s cheaper and less durable.

However, you may clean both types of fabric with the same approach. So, dry cleaning is your only safe bet when you encounter a silky, lustrous material like these two.

5 – Authentic Leather

We don’t use a strong chemical to disinfect most authentic leather types so as not to compromise its protective topcoat. Otherwise, the surface could wear out eventually and feel rough to the touch.

Without the topcoat, the dye may also transfer and stain your clothes. In addition to that, some kinds of leather, like Aniline and Nubuck, require an even more specific cleaning method.

It would be best if you only cleaned the Aniline with a dry or barely damp towel. As for the Nubuck leather, you should only use the kit that came with it and nothing else.

Generally, leather wears well over time, unlike other fabrics. Just wipe off spills immediately so the fabric doesn’t absorb the liquid.

6 – Faux Leather

Man-made leather is much easier to maintain than genuine leather because of its plastic layer. They’re also cheaper, but aren’t tear and puncture-resistant.

Although some faux leathers are more durable now, they still haven’t quite equaled the longevity and patina of authentic leather. Thus, it’s easy to tell them apart.

Some of the most obvious signs to look out for when identifying synthetic from authentic are the smell and grains.

Real leather has a distinct, earthy smell, while faux leather usually smells similar to vinyl. When it comes to grains, the latter has an irregular pattern.

Like a thumbprint, no two grains of genuine leather are the same. Faux leather, on the contrary, displays uniform grain patterns.

Final Thoughts

So, how do you disinfect your couch?

Knowing the kind of material that makes up your couch is the first step to answering this question. Certain fabrics need a precise approach, so don’t experiment with them.

There could still be other chemicals in the top coat or dye that could react with the disinfectant. That’s why even after knowing the type of fabric, never disinfect your couch without doing a spot test.

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