How to Clean a Suede Couch

Your favorite suede sofa looks and feels great, but all those tiny fibers start to look a little flat and worn if you don't take care of it regularly. Using a safe suede couch cleaner and a suede brush help keep the fuzzy surface looking great. Get into a routine of regular care and cleaning to protect your investment.

Blue Suede Mid Century Modern Couch in Minimalist Apartment Setting
credit: captainsecret/iStock/GettyImages
How to Clean a Suede Couch

Basics of Suede and Microsuede

Real suede is a type of leather with a soft, supple texture and a fuzzy feeling due to its surface being covered in raised fibers. Microsuede or microfiber couches replicate the look of suede, but they're made from other materials, often polyester. It's durable, repels water and resists stains, but it still needs routine care.

Despite one being natural and one being man-made, these two types of upholstery need the same type of care routine. Without cleaning, these fabrics start to look flat, patchy or spotty. Dirt and stains make the fabric look darker in those areas, and it's difficult to remove them once they are set. Removing dirt and stains before they set and regularly brushing the fabric helps.

Check the Tag

If you haven't already checked the care tag on your microfiber sofa, do that now. You'll find codes on the tag that tell you what type of cleaners are safe for the fabric. Follow those codes closely to avoid staining or damaging the fabric upholstery.

The codes include:

  • W: Only use water-based microsuede couch cleaner
  • S: Only use solvent cleaners
  • S-W: Use either water-based or solvent cleaners
  • X: Don't use any cleaners — vacuum only

Vacuum the Sofa

Whether you have a real suede or microsuede couch, regular vacuuming safely removes dirt, crumbs and other debris. It's much better to suck up the dirt than it is to rub it to remove it. Rubbing can grind the dirt into the fabric, leaving it looking dingy and dirty.

Use an upholstery attachment with your vacuum cleaner to remove dirt before it sets into the fabric and causes dark spots. If your sofa has removable cushions, take them off to make vacuuming easier. Vacuum the crevices in the sofa and go over all of the exposed fabric surfaces on the cushions and pillows.

Use Microfiber or Suede Furniture Cleaner

You don't need to buy a fancy suede sofa cleaner product to remove stains on your couch. Rubbing alcohol placed in a spray bottle works just as well. When you notice a spill, blot it immediately to soak up as much of the liquid as possible. This keeps the stain from setting.

For older stains or if there's still marks left behind, grab your spray bottle of rubbing alcohol. You don't need to dilute it, just spray it onto the stained area. Use a clean, white cloth to blot the area. After it dries, you'll need to brush the surface to restore its natural texture.

If you get a grease stain on the fabric, sprinkle it with talcum powder or cornstarch to absorb the grease. Leave it on the stain overnight before vacuuming it up the next day. You can also get a suede eraser to help remove any remnants of stains.

Brush the Sofa

Brushing is an important part of cleaning a microfiber couch or a suede couch. You can get a brush specifically designed for suede to make the job easier. Never use an abrasive brush, as it can scratch and damage the fabric permanently. The goal of brushing is to remove dirt that's trapped in the fibers and to restore its fuzziness.

Long brush strokes may have the opposite effect, making the nap flat and keeping dirt in it. Instead, work in small circular motions or small cross patterns to soften and restore the suede or microsuede fabric.


Shelley Frost

Shelley Frost combines her love of DIY and writing in her freelance career. She has first-hand experience with tiling, painting, refinishing hardwood floors, installing lighting, roofing and many other home improvement projects. She keeps her DIY skills fresh with regular projects around the house and extensive writing work on the topic.