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Can You Clean a Sofa With Carpet Cleaner?

Cleaning the carpet is an ongoing routine. Most would invest in a carpet cleaner to ensure the mats stay clean year-round. But what about a sofa cleaner? Do you have to buy a sofa cleaner separately, or can you use the carpet cleaner to clean the sofa?

One most certainly can use a carpet cleaner to clean a couch. Carpet cleaners usually come with an upholstery attachment that is gentle enough to clean the sofa and get into all the nicks and folds. The same cleaning solution can be used; the only determining factor is the sofa’s material.

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Cleaning your sofas with the carpet cleaner might need some adjustments, but it can be done. There are also specific ways to do it to prevent you from harming the couches. 

cleaning a sofa with carpet cleaner

Can You Use Carpet Cleaner On A Couch?

Sofas need cleaning, whether you like it or not. It is a mission and might require much effort, but it needs to be done. There is no better feeling than sinking into a sofa after a long day at work, smelling and feeling the cleanliness and freshness hugging you. Luckily, you can also use your carpet cleaner to clean the sofa and don’t need an additional cleaner. 

Dirt, debris, crumbs, and any substances on the kids’ feet or guests’ clothes get stuck to the couch or drop into the folds and sides. This could be problematic when it isn’t cleaned, as it might become a breeding ground for unwanted species. 

You might have to investigate your carpet cleaner and determine whether it meets the requirements to clean sofas. First, it has to have an upholstery attachment. If not, you will have to find out if the manufacturer sells these separately to fit your cleaner.

When To Use A Carpet Cleaner On A Sofa

To use a carpet cleaner on your sofa, you should follow a few steps to ensure you do not damage the sofa. In addition, these steps will help determine if this way of cleaning is compatible with your couch.

Check The Label Of The Sofa Before Using Carpet Cleaner

Before you start thinking about cleaning the sofa with a carpet cleaner, you need to look at the care instructions label on the sofa. This label will tell you how to wash it or which cleaning methods to avoid.

The care label is usually on the back of the sofa. Depending on the fabric it is made from, there might be various care instructions for different parts of the couch depending on its fabric. Some features are made from one fabric, and others might be from other materials. 

The label indicates a letter to tell you how the sofa can or should be cleaned:

Letter On LabelHow To Clean?Solution 
WWater-based cleanerShampoo, dishwashing liquid, and water
SSolvent-based cleaner, thus dry cleaning onlyRubbing alcohol and dry-cleaning solvents
WSWater and solvent-based cleaner, thus dry clean or steam cleanShampoo, dishwashing liquid, and water or rubbing alcohol
XNO liquid at all 

If you have a water-based carpet cleaner, you must ensure the sofa is compatible. A label stating “S” or “X” would not be. 

Vacuum The Sofa Before Using Carpet Cleaner

After determining whether you can use your carpet cleaner on the sofa, you should clean it thoroughly with a vacuum cleaner. 

1. Use the upholstery attachment or soft brush of the vacuum.

2. Move slowly in a forward and backward motion, going over one area multiple times, ensuring as much dust and the soil gets removed. Do this over the entire couch, the back, and underneath.

3. Use the crevice tool, set the suction power a little lower, and delicately suction the creases.

4. Remove the cushions and suction beneath them. If the pillows cannot be removed, you must ensure you get all the holes and folds, as this is where crumbs, hair, and anything else, like to hide.

Do A Patch Test On Sofa With Carpet Cleaner

Although you determined what type of cleaning the sofa requires, it is always necessary to do a patch test first. This way, you won’t ruin the sofa and will be sure that the carpet cleaner you want to use can work with your chosen solution. 

The patch should preferably be somewhere not in the eye’s sight. So, for example, choose an area on the couch that usually faces the wall or is out of the eye’s view. This will ensure that it won’t be visible if something goes wrong.

Choose The Cleaning Solution For Your Sofa

Most carpet cleaning solutions can be used on sofas. Ensure the letter on your couch (WS or W) is on the solution too. This way, you will know they are compatible and safe to use. 

Suppose you have a dirty patch on the sofa; it would be best to spot-clean this area with an appropriate cleaner. Different spot cleaners are available for pet incidents, food stains, and many others. Ensure these are compatible with your couch before using them. Stay away from bleach, as this could harm the fabric and fade the color.

Using a spot cleaner will ensure the stain is as clean as it can be, as the solution you add to the carpet cleaner might not remove all the stains alone as effectively.

Using The Carpet Cleaner On The Sofa

The patch test was successful, and you know the solution is compatible with the couch. After adding the solution to the cleaner and attaching the upholstery head, you are ready to clean the sofa.

Use slow strokes, pulling the attachment to you rather than pushing it. This way, you are more in control, and more dirt is sucked in. Start at one side and continue to the other. You can spend a little more time on the areas where you applied spot cleaner, but not too much, as this will lead to too much water.

After completing the cleaning process, start from the first side again and only activate the suction, no water or shampoo. Now you can ensure the excess moisture in the cushions will be removed. This part is crucial as wet, damp areas can lead to mold forming.

Let the couch dry completely. Set up a fan to dry it quickly, or put it in the sun (if the material allows it) to dry it faster. 

How To Use Carpet Cleaner On Different Sofas

Different fabric sofas need different approaches. Some are carpet cleaner-friendly, and others should not be cleaned with a carpet cleaner.

  • Leather sofa – because leather has the unique texture we all know, the best way to approach this sofa is to use a cloth and water/vinegar mix to wipe it down. If the label says W or W/S, you can use a carpet cleaner, but ensure the solution is only water with vinegar.
  • Microfiber sofa – these sofas might also have different labels depending on the couch’s colors and style. Some can be cleaned with a carpet cleaner, while others will do better with steam cleaning.
  • Suede sofa – suede sofas are the trickiest ones to clean. Steam and water are a no-no for suede sofas. Instead, you will usually have to vacuum only and do patch cleaning with a cloth or sponge and specialized agents. 
  • Polyester sofa – most polyester sofas are safe to clean with a carpet cleaner as long as the label has a W or W/S. 

When Not To Use A Carpet Cleaner On Sofas

Do not use a carpet cleaner that doesn’t come with an upholstery attachment. These will not clean your sofa appropriately and most likely damage the fibers as the wrong attachment might be too harsh on the sofa fibers.

Experts do not advise that you go against the sofa’s label. For example, if the label indicates that you can use water, you may use the carpet cleaner. However, a label with an S or X should not be cleaned with a carpet cleaner, and the best would be to call in the experts and keep your sofa safe.

If you have never used a carpet cleaner or have never used it on a couch, it would be best to stay away. Instead, your go-to should be to ask a professional to come and assist you. Another way would be to ask someone that might clean their sofas with a carpet cleaner to invite you for a cleaning session at their house before you attempt your own.

Another reason not to use a carpet cleaner on a sofa is when you want to clean someone else’s couch. Again, this could end up bad if something goes wrong. The best would be to leave it be or get a professional to clean it with the owner’s permission.

If your sofa still has a warranty, you might want to check with the company before cleaning it. If they give the OK, and you are confident in your carpet cleaner approach, you can use it on the sofa.

You might know how the carpet cleaner works, but you have no idea whether the solution you use on the carpets is compatible with your sofa or not. Maybe you also do not know about other solution options for the specific sofa you have. It might be best to call in the professionals.

Some sofas are old and don’t have a label on them anymore. You might have inherited them or bought them secondhand. Either way, with no label, you might may a mistake in using a carpet cleaner on something that doesn’t want water. Get advice from a professional, or do a patch test to ensure it will work.

Sticking to secondhand or older sofas, some add new fabric and redo the upholstery of the current couch or structure. Unfortunately, this could mean the new material doesn’t match the old label. If you suspect something like this, best to get a professional opinion to prevent any damage or fading of colors. 

Which Carpet Cleaners Are Good For Sofas Too?

A few carpet cleaners will do a fantastic job cleaning your sofas if they have water-based cleaning instructions.

  • Hoover FH11300PC Portable Carpet and upholstery cleaner might not have a steam function. Still, it will do a great job with your carpets and sofas.
  • Hoover CleanSlate Pet carpet and upholstery cleaner – clean large surfaces at once and will do a fantastic job removing pet hair and keeping your sofa clean.
  • Bissell Portable Carpet Cleaner – has many attachments so you can clean all the desired areas, including carpets, stairs, and couches.


Knowing that you can use your carpet cleaner on a sofa, too, other questions might pop up that relate to sofa cleaning.

Is There A Best Way To Clean A Sofa?

The best way to clean a sofa is to follow the label. Those that require water can be deep-cleaned with a carpet cleaner, and most can also be cleaned with a steam cleaner. Both these methods clean a sofa well. It just uses different techniques and will depend on your preference.

How Often To Deep Clean A Sofa?

The required number of deep cleaning for your sofa will depend on how often you use the couch and how you maintain it between deep cleaning sessions. The recommended time is every six months to a year.

How Often To Vacuum A Sofa?

Vacuuming a sofa will keep it cleaner for longer and ensure no health issues, mold, or breeding problems. A sofa used daily should be vacuumed twice a week up to three times, and other sofas once a week. This way, you will maintain the freshness and quality of the couch for longer and extend the time needed between deep cleaning.


Whether you have a carpet cleaner that can do the job or want to invest in a sofa cleaner, either would do a good job. The important part comes when you evaluate the couch fabrics and whether they can be cleaned with water. Secondly, the solution you add to the cleaner will be crucial for different types of sofa fabrics.

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