Washing couch cushions should be done with care. Otherwise, your couch could be ruined and you may have to replace or recover it.
Washing Couch Cushions Correctly
The first thing you need to do if you need to clean your couch cushions is thoroughly vacuum the entire couch to remove crumbs, lint and dust. If you have pets, consider one of the new products designed for removing pet hair as well since hair isn't easily removed with a normal vacuum cleaner.Now you need to determine how much cleaning really needs to be done and how to wash your couch cushions correctly. Look for tags that tell you the type of fabric your couch is covered with.
If you only have a few small, minor stains, you should try spot cleaning first. For recent spills, immediately soak up as much of the liquid as possible with an absorbent towel or rag. Do not rub and scrub or you'll cause the liquid to go further into the cushion. Just gently press the rag onto the spill with the goal of soaking the spill into the rag before it soaks further into the couch. Once you have sopped up the spill, or for older stains, try an upholstery cleaner with a rag. Follow the directions on the bottle. You will want to put the cleaner on a rag and scrub the stain until it is removed. This may require you to rise and reapply several times depending on the severity of the stain. Some cleaners may require you to allow it to sit for several minutes so it can penetrate the stain. Once the stain is gone, use another clean rag and plain water to "rinse" the spot. Cleaner that is left on upholstery will attract dirt and end up looking dirty and dingy.
More Difficult Stains
If you have a stain that is too big or too stubborn for scrubbing by hand, you will need to try a steam cleaner designed to be used on furniture. This will also be necessary if you cannot remove you couch cushions. You can use the steam cleaner to clean the entire couch. Doing so will eliminate the possible problem of having a clean spot if the rest of the couch is getting dingy. Cleaning this way will also allow the couch to dry faster than if you saturate it with cleaner and water.
If your fabric tag tells you that the fabric is something that can be machine washed, you can unzip the cover and remove it from the cushion. Wash it on gentle cycle in cold water with a mild detergent. Make sure the cover is zipped closed before you put it in the washing machine or you may end up with a tangled up mess.Covers can be line-dried but many people prefer to put the cover back on the cushion while it is still damp. This is because some fabrics will shrink, even when they are not put in the dryer. If you allow the cover to dry on the cushion, it will mold itself to the shape of the cushion for a snug fit. Be sure it is completely dry before you put the cushion back on the couch.
Some covers will require dry cleaning. Check the tag and if it says dry clean only, this is what you need to do. You don't want to risk ruining the cover unless you are prepared to have new ones made if there is an accident.
If the stain has seeped down into the cushion, you may need to wash it as well as the cover. This is a little trickier that washing the cover in the washing machine. Once the cover is removed, you can put the cushion in your washer as well, if it is big enough. However, you must be sure that you can turn off the agitator or your cushion may be destroyed by the washer.
A safer way for washing couch cushions is to put the cushion in the bathtub with regular laundry detergent or vinegar and wash it by hand. Be sure you rise it thoroughly and then set it outside in the sun to dry. Depending on the size of your couch cushions, this could take a day or two, so be sure you are cleaning your couch on a day when nice weather is predicted.
If you are careful, washing couch cushions is an option to keep your couch looking new longer. Keep in mind, when you wash the covers, they may fade a bit. It is always smart to test an inconspicuous area before using any cleaners on your couch.