In short, more often than you'd think.

By Lauren Wellbank
November 13, 2020
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Credit: Getty / Thomas Barwick

Your sofa cushions see a lot of action—especially in recent months (we've been on our couches more than ever before). Regular use, combined with juice spills, trailing pet dirt and hair, and general messes, can leave your couch covers looking a little worse for the wear. So, how often should you be cleaning them? Here, we tapped two experts to find out.

Routine Maintenance

As it turns out, you should be cleaning your sofa cushions more often than you probably are right now, says Edgar Blazona, the founder of BenchMade Modern. "I recommend doing a deep clean of your sofa every six months, just like you would your rugs," he notes, adding that if you're having a professional service come in and do your rugs, you should ask them do your couch (the covers, included), as well. In between those deep cleanings, he suggests weekly upkeep. "Use your vacuum to clean the cushions, arms, and under the cushions once a week to get rid of any dirt, dust, or crumbs that may have accumulated," he says.

At-Home Cleaning

Before you begin to clean your couch cushions, Gwen Whiting, the co-founder of The Laundress, suggests taking some of the same precautions you would when washing delicate garments. "Before you get started, we recommend reading the fabric content to determine which wash setting and detergent you should use," she says. While cotton and certain textile blends are perfectly safe to run through a gentle cycle, other fabric types, like leather or suede, should never see the inside of your machine. If you're unsure which type of fabric your sofa is covered in, check the interior label (it should be somewhere along the base, underneath the seat cushions) for the fabric type and any cleaning recommendations.

Lindsey Boyd, The Laundress' other co-founder, suggests pre-treating stains, as well. "Also, wash covers separately from other garments," Boyd notes. Since most covers have zippers, washing them separately will prevent them from snagging other pieces. As for the drying process? "Always air dry the covers—this will prevent shrinkage," Whiting adds.

Spot Treat

If your couch cover can't be machine washed, spot treat it, instead. In fact, this is the best course of action for just about any couch cover, whatever the fabric type, says Blazona—cleanse the cushion covers without removing them from their pillow inserts. "I strongly recommend cleaning your sofa with the covers on the cushions. [You might] never be able to put them back on as perfectly as they came from the manufacturer, and they might end up lumpy," he notes.

Fabric Matters

Of course, keeping your couch (and its covers) clean is much easier if it can stand up to those everyday spills and stains, notes Blazona. "Make sure you're buying a sofa with a performance fabric—that is a couch's secret weapon," he says. "These fabrics are treated to resist and repel, not absorb, stains, which makes them really easy to spot clean [and extends] the life of the piece."

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