how to clean a velvet couch

How to Clean a Velvet Couch at Home in 7 Steps

With a reputation that dates back to the Renaissance period, owning a velvet couch is a dream come true for some. Characterized by a delicate and shinny appearance, the fabric gives off a luxurious appeal, which compliments its association with nobility and class.

Velvet furniture is inherently decorate and commonly used to accentuate spaces by adding a soft touch. But despite the lustre and magnificence, the fabric’s pile gets easily offended and can take a beating from every bit of dirt and dust, not to mention all kinds of spills.

As a result, velvet is often perceived as high maintenance fabric, a feature that makes many homeowners find investing in its furniture a risk too big to take.

But unbeknownst to some, all velvet is not the same. Some types are super delicate, while others like anything considered performance velvet have the potential to hold up well even with heavy duty use.

This factor is important when determining how to clean a velvet couch, and should influence your decision making process as well.

How to Clean a Velvet Couch

how to clean a velvet couch

Learning how to clean a velvet couch is not as complicated as it is in the mentality of most people. You only need to know the specifications of the fabric so that you can provide care the right way.

As a rule of thumb, handle natural fiber velvet more delicately compared to synthetic velvet. Although it can be as durable as synthetic velvet, natural velvet is more prone to fading, and it can also experience other forms of wear and tear with more ease.

Generally, caring for velvet the right way increases its durability as well as the time it retains its newness.

What you will need

  • A vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment
  • A velvet brush
  • Paper towels
  • Spray bottle
  • Distilled water
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Dish soap
  • A microfiber cloth
  • A putty knife
  • A clothes’ steamer
  • A hair dryer

 Step 1: Vacuum your couch regularly

When dust particles find their way into your house, they settle on the floor, walls, electronics as well as furniture. As part of furniture, velvet couches can provide a safe haven for dust particles, pet dander and pet hairs.

Use a vacuum upholstery attachment to vacuum your velvet couch once or several times a week, depending on the condition of your home. Vacuum repeatedly until the vacuum cleaner picks all the possible dirt and debris.

As part of a whole house cleaning routine, follow our article on vacuuming and dusting to know the right cleaning stage to vacuum your couches.

Step 2: Break Food Particles from the Fabric

It is normal to have food particles stuck on your couches especially if you have kids and pets in the house. Use a putty knife or bristle brush to break them away. Be gentle so as to avoid making marks on the fabric.

Work from the outside of the dried particles and spills to the center. This allows you to thin them carefully until you break everything away.

Step 3: Spot Treat Stains

Generally, you should spot treat stains immediately to prevent them from getting absorbed into the fabric fibers. Water and oil based liquids behave differently after spilling on velvet couches depending on fabric specifications and whether the fabric is specially treated for stain resistance or not.

Use a paper towel or absorbent cloth to soak up excess liquid from a spill. Do not rub or dab the section covered with the spill.

Place you absorbent material gently on the spill to avoid pushing the spill further into the fabric fibers and to ensure that you do not work dye from the fabric.

 Spot treat dried stains with a solution of water, dish soap and rubbing alcohol. Transfer a cup of distilled water into a spray bottle, add two drops dish soap and a tablespoon of rubbing alcohol. Shake the solution well then spray a liberal amount on a white microfiber cloth.

Use the cloth to clean each stain gently and repeatedly until it disappears completely. Work a stain from the outer sides towards the center.

Step 4: Use a Steamer to Remove Wrinkles

After vacuuming and spot cleaning your couch, use a garment steamer to remove wrinkles and creases from your couch. Hold a steamer a distance way from your couch and avoid it altogether if your couch is made of delicate velvet such as silk.

Set the steamer to the lowest heat setting to avoid ruining the fabric’s pile.

Step 5: Dry and Brush the Couch

Your velvet couch feels slightly damp after steaming it. A blow dryer comes in handy to dry it completely. Hold a blow dryer slightly above the damp surface of your couch and move it back and forth slowly with your hand to ensure that the couch dries evenly.

Step 6: Groom the Couch

Next, use a velvet brush to re-lay the fabric’s pile. Brush repeatedly until the couch looks completely revived. Brushing is important because it makes your velvet look as good as new.

Step 7: Fluff the Pillows

After cleaning and grooming the couch, you want every part of it look neat and well-placed. Having that in mind, fluff the pillows by compressing and decompressing them repeatedly until they look fuller. Punch them lightly if the need be, and focus on all the four sides to achieve even fluffiness.  

Types of Velvet for Couch Upholstery

velvet couch

Whether your luxe velvet couch is from a high end furniture store or just a regular shop, the most important thing is to know the different fabric options and choose what’s perfect for your home.

Remember there are too many to choose from, an advantage that can also cause unnecessary confusion to semi-informed buyers.

Silk Velvet

Easily recognizable, silk velvet is probably the glossiest and most drapery of all, with a lot of lustre and a touch that feels like pure bliss. It has been around the longest, with a history that traces back to raising of silkworms in China and Italy.

100% silk velvet is a luxurious option and costs more than all other types of velvet. Its shimmery appearance makes it an excellent choice for furniture upholstery as well as eye-catching décor pieces such as throw pillow covers and table runners.

The choice for silk velvet couches and furnishing should boil down to budget as well as lifestyle. It is a great choice for light use because of its delicate nature. It is highly sensitive to sunlight and gets stained easily.

It is also a great attraction for pet hairs and wears easily from pet scratches.

Because the material is highly sensitive, silk velvet couches are best cleaned by professional cleaners.

Cotton Velvet

Silk velvet is rare today because of prohibitive prices among other reasons. Cotton velvet serves as a popular alternative because it is much cheaper and offers great features that compliment its application in the same way as silk velvet.

Just like silk velvet, cotton velvet is soft and smooth to the touch. On the other hand, it is less shimmery. When compared to silk velvet it terms of appearance, cotton velvet comes off matte. 

Cotton velvet can either be 100% cotton or comprising of a percentage fabrics such as polyester and silk.

Whether blended or unblended, cotton velvet is widely used in upholstery. Overall, it is quite high maintenance but less delicate when compared to silk velvet.

How Clean Cotton Velvet

  • Dust and vacuum regularly.
  • Blot spills immediately with a paper towel or white microfiber cloth then wipe the spot with a damp cloth.
  • Use a putty knife to scrape off food particles.
  • Spot clean with a damp cloth rinsed in a solution of water and dish soap or mild detergent.
  • Use a handheld steamer to get wrinkles out of the fabric.
  • Brush in the direction of the pile to minimize marks and relay the pile.

Wool Velvet

With wool velvet, you do not get the glossy sheen of silk velvet or the matte appearance of cotton velvet. It has a subtle appearance, which is beautiful in its way and worth consideration.

 Its rich texture serves elegance combined with warmth and stain resistance properties.

How to Clean Wool Velvet

  • Vacuum at least twice a week to remove dust.
  • Blot spills immediately with a white microfiber cloth and gently wipe the spot with a damp cloth rinsed under clean water.
  • Use a putty knife to scrape off dried food.
  • Spot clean with a cloth damp cloth rinsed in a solution of water and dish soap.
  • Use rubbing alcohol to remove clear stains that are difficult to remove.

Performance velvet

You have probably heard about performance velvet and found yourself wondering what the heck that even means. Apparently, this is a term commonly used to refer to 100% polyester velvet.

This fabric is hardy and can hold up well even in an environment with pets. It is also not the fading type. It does not look pale and boring after a few weeks of exposure to sunlight.

That said, it is not a good idea to expose your velvet couches to sunlight. It does not matter whether they are performance or not.

Performance velvet is very durable. If you acquire a couch from West Elm, it can withstand over 100,000 rubs. When it comes to cleaning, you cannot go wrong with performance velvet especially if it is treated to resist different kinds of stains.

How to Care for Velvet Furniture

how to clean a velvet couch

Avoid direct sunlight: Keep your velvet couches away from direct sunlight. This maintains the rich color of the fabric as well as the luxurious appearance.

 Vacuum regularly: It is not only important but also necessary to vacuum your velvet furniture at least three times a week or everyday if possible. This prevents the buildup of dust and pet dander. Ensure that you vacuum with an upholstery brush attachment and use low suction power to maintain the integrity of the fabric.

Brush in the right direction: When relaying the pile of the fabric, brush in the direction of the nap. Further, choose a brush with soft brushes to avoid bruising the fabric.

Use a steamer in the right way: Never hold a steamer too close to the fabric. Hold it an inch away from the fabric or half an inch away if absolutely necessary. Excessive heat and moisture from the steamer can fade velvet fabric. If you do not have a steamer, never use an iron box as a substitute.

Tackle stains immediately: Moisture is not velvet’s best friend. With that in mind, blot spills ass soon as possible, and lift dry products that can cause staining as quickly as possible. This prevents unnecessary mess that can create the need to wash the spot with a lot of water.

Understand that velvet changes with time: As velvet furniture ages, it develops character through the occurrence of marks, bruises and crushing. The marks result pressure caused by sitting. Some of these marks can disappear by brushing the fabric gently in the direction of the nap, but the rest should be considered natural antiquing.

How to Get Smell out of a Velvet Couch

The best way to get smell out of a velvet couch is to use baking soda. Velvet does not like water, and since baking soda is dry, it remove odor without deteriorating the quality of the fabric. Sprinkle a generous about of baking soda all over the couch and let it sit overnight. Vacuum away the powder and groom the couch by brushing it gently.

If the odor fails to disappear completely, repeat the steps again but allow the powder to sit on the couch for much longer.

The second option to air the couch in a well ventilated space for a few days. However, ensure that you keep it under a shade because velvet fades quickly when exposed to direct sunlight.

As a last resort, mix equal portions of water and white vinegar in a spray bottle and shake wall. Spray the solution on lightly the couch. The reek fro your couch will disappear as the couch dries. This solution leaves the smell of vinegar on your couch but it dissipates with time.


Can I steam a velvet sofa?

You can steam a velvet sofa to remove wrinkles, creases and pressure lines caused by sitting. That said, do not bring the steamer into direct contact with the fabric. Hold it an inch away to protect the richness of the fabric in terms of color and texture.

How do you get stains out of velvet?

Get stains out of velvet by using a white microfiber cloth or towel to blot spills immediately. Do not rub the spot to avoid pushing the contents of the spill down the fabric’s pile. Rinse the microfiber cloth in a solution of water and dish soap then wring out excess water. Wipe the spot gently then rinse the cloth again in plain water, squeeze out excess water and wipe out soapy residue from the spot.

Remove food, chocolate and similar stains from velvet by using a putty knife or spoon to lift out the excess. Next, dab the spot repeatedly with a white microfiber cloth rinsed in a solution of water and dish soap. Rinse the cloth in water and use it to remove soap residue from the spot.

If dealing with more severe stains suck as marker pen, consult your manufacturer to know the best way forward. Alternatively, wet a white cloth with rubbing alcohol and dab the spot repeatedly.

Can upholstery velvet be washed?

Generally, it is not a good idea to wash upholstered velvet especially if it is made of pure natural fiber. Instead, vacuum it regularly, blot stains immediately and spot clean, then use a steamer to remove wrinkles and creases.  Your best bet is dry cleaning if it needs more work. As for synthetic velvet, you gently wash pillow covers in the washing machine with cold water and mild detergent. Alternatively, hand wash lightly.

Does water ruin velvet?

Water can ruin velvet fabric but the effect is worse when you use it on natural fiber velvet. Examples include silk, cotton and linen velvet. It can fade the fabric quickly and take away some of its shinny appearance. Avoid soaking velvet in water by vacuuming, spot cleaning, steaming and brushing regularly.

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