How to Freshen a Smelly Sofa

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A perfectly worn-in sofa is the ideal spot to curl up with a book, binge your latest TV obsession, or talk with your favorite people. All those hours you log on the sofa can result in some unpleasant odors. Sweat, food spills, pet stains, and odors from your home can soak into the fabric and leave a lingering stench that makes your sofa less appealing. Finding the right smelly sofa remedy will help freshen up your couch and the rest of the room.

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Find the Smell Source

Follow your nose to the source of the odor if possible. You might discover a stain where your pet had an accident on a cushion or a food spill your kids didn't tell you about. Cleaning those spills and stains from the sofa can improve the overall smell. You might need to clean the sofa foam to remove the smell if the spill soaks into the cushions.

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Check your throw pillows and blankets that you keep on the couch as well. If they get used regularly, they could start to stink. Toss them in the washing machine if they're washable to freshen them along with the sofa.

Vacuum the Sofa

If you don't see any major stains or spills, do a thorough vacuuming to suck up the crumbs, pet dander, and other debris on your sofa. Those things can keep the sofa from smelling fresh. Use your upholstery attachment to make it easier. Don't forget the cracks and crevices where all of the crumbs tend to collect. Add vacuuming your sofa to your cleaning routine to keep it smelling fresh.

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Wash Removable Covers

Check for removable, washable covers on your sofa cushions to simplify the freshening process. Follow the washing instructions for the sofa. Not all upholstery fabrics are machine-washable, even if they're removable. If they're not designed to be washed, they could shrink or show damage to the fabric.

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For machine-washable covers, choose a cold wash cycle to protect the fabric. Air-dry the covers, or use a no-heat or very low-heat setting in the dryer but only if the care instructions say drying is safe. Even moderate heat can melt the fibers of synthetic fabrics or shrink natural fibers. Put the covers back on the sofa cushions when they're still a little damp as it's usually easier to get them back on.

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Try a Natural Smelly Sofa Remedy

Several natural products that you likely have at home can freshen your sofa. Some of the options include:

  • Baking soda:​ Sprinkle baking soda on your fabric-covered couch and wait an hour or longer for it to absorb odors. Vacuum the baking soda out of the fabric.
  • Vinegar:​ Make a homemade odor spray for couch cushions by mixing one part white vinegar to three parts water in a spray bottle. Spray the solution on the fabric and then use an old towel to soak up excess moisture after 10 minutes or so. Test the vinegar on a hidden piece of fabric first to ensure it doesn't discolor your upholstery.
  • Activated charcoal:​ Like baking soda, activated charcoal absorbs odors. However, you don't want to sprinkle it directly on your sofa because it will likely stain the fabric. Instead, put pouches of activated charcoal between the cushions to absorb odors constantly.

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Shampoo the Sofa

You can also shampoo your sofa to clean it and leave it smelling fresher. Use a carpet cleaner with upholstery attachments to easily shampoo the fabric on your sofa. These machines are easy to use, but read the instructions carefully before starting.

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You usually add warm water and detergent made for the machine to a reservoir. The upholstery attachment sprays water onto the couch and then sucks it up along with the detergent. The dirty water collects in a separate tank that you empty when you're done shampooing the sofa.

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