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How to Clean a Suede Couch [4 Effective Ways]

Suede couches make a lovely addition to any living room. They provide a warm seat and a touch of coziness. However, cleaning them does pose its own set of unique challenges. The soft material can be difficult to clean without ruining the look of the delicate suede. So how do you clean a suede couch? We've done some searching and found several options for you to try.

Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

First, to clean a suede couch, determine the type of suede of which your couch is made. Then, based on material and manufacturer's recommendations, choose one of the following methods:

  • Use a water-based solvent.
  • Use a water-free solvent.
  • Vacuum with an upholstery attachment.
  • Hire an upholstery professional.

Though these are the basic methods used to clean your suede couch, there are several details to know before tackling that cleaning project. Read on to find out all the important information to ensure the life of your couch.

A blue suede sofa mid century style with an area rug underneath and an indoor fiddle leaf tree plant on each side, How to Clean a Suede Couch [4 Effective Ways]

What Kind of Suede is Your Couch?

Couches are made of different kinds of suede. It's imperative to know of which type your couch is made to avoid ruining it during the cleaning process. If you're unsure which type of suede you have, check the manufacturer's tag attached to the sofa. 

Natural Suede

If your sofa is made of natural suede, this means it is made out of animal leather with a napped surface to give it a texture different from regular leather. The leather is processed, dyed, and buffed to creature the upholstery for the couch. You can generally see the grains of the leather. 

Microfiber Suede

Microfiber suede is a synthetic material made from nylon and polyester woven together to mimic natural suede. This type of suede tends to be easier to clean and more resistant to stains and dirt than natural suede. 

View this microfiber suede couch on Amazon.

Which Cleaning Method Do I Use for my Suede Couch?

Your couch will have a tag from the manufacturer with a letter code indicating which method you must use for your particular material. This is an important first step to keep from damaging your upholstery! 

"W" means you can use a water-based solvent.

"S" means you will use a water-free solvent.

"S-W" means you can use either a water-based or water-free solvent.

"X" means no type of liquid should be used on your sofa. 

Let's discuss the steps for each method.

Use a water-based solvent

First and foremost, a water-based solvent should never be used on a natural suede sofa because leather is prone to shrink and stain.

Start by thoroughly vacuuming the couch to remove any loose dirt and debris from the surface of the couch. If you apply a water-based solvent straight away, it could potentially just create wet dirt on your sofa. 

The easiest do-it-yourself approach for a water-based solvent is to fill a spray bottle with warm water and add a few drops of dish soap. For deodorizing, feel free to add about a teaspoon of white vinegar or baking soda. It's important not to mix both vinegar and baking soda in the same bottle -- one or the other will do the trick. There are plenty of commercial water-based solvents for purchase as well.

View this solvent on Amazon.

Spot test using your mixture on an unseen area of the couch. If all is well, continue moving forward with your cleaning.

Use the solvent to slightly dampen trouble spots, and then use a white sponge or soft cloth to work at the spot you are cleaning. Uncolored sponges or cloths prevent any color transference. Do not saturate the spot. Remember this will need to air dry. If you worry about leaving soap rings, use a clean, damp sponge to rinse the soap from the spot before it dries.

View these cleaning cloths on Amazon.

Once satisfied with your cleaning job, allow the spot to completely dry. You can use a brush made specifically for suede to buff the fabric once it is dry.

View this suede brush on Amazon.

Use a water-free solvent

For couches labeled "S," be sure to use a water-free solvent. The most easily accessible water-free solvent you probably have in your home is rubbing alcohol. There are also commercial cleaners that are water-free.

View this cleaner on Amazon.

Similar to the water-based method, vacuum your couch thoroughly before cleaning. Without diluting it, fill a spray bottle with rubbing alcohol. Use the spray bottle to target stains and dampen without overly saturating with the rubbing-alcohol. Use a dry, uncolored cloth or sponge to work at the spot until clean.

One of the advantages of using rubbing alcohol as your water-free solvent is that it is quick-drying. You won't have to wait long before you can follow up the cleaning with a suede brush. Your couch will look like new again in no time. 

Vacuum with an upholstery attachment

If your couch has an "X," do not use any liquid on it. Use your vacuum with the upholstery attachment. Most upholstery attachments have a bristled attachment. Use this to gently work at any dried stains on your upholstery. Resist the urge to apply liquid. Vacuum your couch frequently and thoroughly in hopes you don't ever feel the need for a liquid cleaner.

View this vacuum on Amazon.

Is your couch missing some cushion material, and you have no idea where to get couch stuffing? We've got you covered with "Where to Buy Foam for Couch Cushions [Top 30 Online Stores]."

Hire an upholstery professional

There may come a time when you just don't feel confident enough to tackle a messy couch on your own. In that case, some professionals specialize in cleaning upholstered furniture, and you can enlist the help of one if needed. An upholstery professional might become necessary with any extreme stains, especially if your couch's label has an "X." 

Upholstery cleaners vary in price depending on the area in which you live and the size of your couch. Prices range anywhere from $70 to $150. 

Can I use Febreze on suede?

You should not use Febreze on suede. Febreze should not be used on any fabrics that can watermark. If your couch has a "W," you can use the water and vinegar method mentioned above to deodorize. If you want to see if Febreze would damage your sofa, you can definitely test it on a small, unseen spot of the couch and review the results. Proceed with caution!

Can you steam clean a suede couch?

Steam cleaning is a great way to sanitize and eliminate many allergens. You can steam clean microfiber suede couches, so long as you do not allow the steam to saturate areas of the couch. This method is fine to use on couches labeled as "W," and even some as "S," so long as you are careful. We wouldn't recommend steam cleaning a couch labeled with "X" or any natural suede couches to avoid shrinkage and spotting. To be safe, always test an unseen spot before proceeding with any cleaning method.

How often should I clean my suede couch?

You should use the upholstery attachment to vacuum your suede couch at least once a month. Surface stains from spills should be treated immediately to avoid any long-term ill-effects to your suede. A thorough cleaning based on the manufacturer's instructions should be done at least once or twice per year to ensure your couch's longevity. 

How Can I Prevent Stains on Suede from Happening?

To prevent stains from happening, it's definitely an option to apply a fabric protector spray to your sofa's body before you begin using it. Keep in mind, using a fabric protector could void the warranty on your couch if it comes with one from the manufacturer, so proceed with caution. Fabric protectors are a great way to keep your investment looking great, but remember to get one that is safe for suede.

View this fabric protector on Amazon.

When applying, make sure the room is well-ventilated. Make sure to allow the protector to dry fully before sitting on your couch. As with all the other solvents we've discussed, spot test to ensure colorfastness before applying to the couch's body. 

In Closing

You want your couch to last many years, and you want it to look nice while it lasts. By ensuring you know what kind of suede your couch is made, you have a head start. Pay attention to the furniture tags and recommendations by the manufacturer. Don't forget preventing stains before they happen with a fabric protector will save you some grief in the long haul. By following all these steps, you'll be cozy on your couch for a long time. 

Is your leather couch looking worse for the wear? Read our article, "How to Repair a Leather Couch?"