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How To Steam Clean And Revive Your Old Couch

January 28, 2020

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I steam cleaned my sofa and made it look like new in less than an hour. I couldn't believe the great results or how easy it was to do.

Check out the quick steaming tips and my fluffy couch tricks.

A sectional couch cleaned from a steam cleaner.

I have to admit that when my house looks perfect, I'm most at ease. And crazy as it sounds, I'm happy to make it look that way each day.

It's my joy and pleasure to fluff and feather.

To clear the countertops and smooth the sheets.

Of course, when you live with a family, perfect is a lofty goal.
It's just not realistic.

Nor is it really desirable.

I mean a home is to be lived in...complete with all the messes that come along with whatever that means.

I love big family meals, a pile of shoes at the backdoor and tons of kids flopping on my couches.

But. It doesn't mean I have to like it.

Frankly, whenever I walk into my basement and look at the sofa, I cringe. It used to be so beautiful, fluffy and pristine.

When they were small, they all sat on the floor, they played Barbies and board games - and I could hide that mess under my ring clip table skirt.

Easy Ring Clip Table Skirt text over photo of skirted desk

Now, things are totally different.

It's all about that sectional. That gross, beat up, battered and frankly stinky, sectional.

Honestly, before the holidays, I'd had enough.

My husband and I even went on a shopping trip looking for a new one. And we almost bought one.

However, when we came home to a basement full of greasy pizzas boxes, and slices eaten without plates and very few napkins and we decided to rethink that purchase.

Then a few weeks ago the kids took off for a gig in Canada and I jumped on the opportunity to revive my sofa.

It lined up perfectly with my fall cleaning ritual.

At first I wasn't exactly sure how or what I needed to do, but after a bit of pondering, I decided to give my steam cleaner a try.

I'd won it a few years ago in a giveaway from Susan at Homeroad and to be honest, it's become a favorite tool.

It cleaned my bathroom shower door frame and grout and my wood floors great without any chemicals or smells, which is important to me, but I'd never tried to steam clean furniture.

The first question I asked myself was can I steam clean my couch?

I figured why not?

While this sofa wasn't torn, it was already in poor condition. What's the worst thing that could happen?

However it's always best to check your sofa for cleaning codes before you use water on it. It's most advisable to test your steamer in an inconspicuous spot.

Of course, it didn't really dawn on me to take a picture of the couch in its fully icky before state, but here's a glimpse. Suffice it to say, it was mushed, mashed and a mess.

No matter how I tried to fluff the bunched filling or re-fluff the matted fibers, it was a no go.

It felt crunchy and had permanent spots where the soft batting was just gone and food stains that no amount of vacuuming did anything to change.

Dirty Matted Sofa Cushions

Naturally, I was skeptical about the steam's potential, but I figured it couldn't get any worse, so I filled up my little machine and got started.

How To Steam Clean A Sofa 

1. Vacuum Off The Couch

First things first, I vacuumed the sofa. I used the carpet tool and gave the entire thing a good once over.

I vacuumed off the cushions, both sides of each one, the sofa frame and the pillows.

2. Prep The Steamer

This is the updated version of my steamer --->
It's a Wagner Spraytech SteamMachine 

You can see that I'm a total rule follower. I read the manual and filled it up exactly like it said.

One fill up produced enough steam to take care of the entire sofa.

Wagner Spraytech C900053.M SteamMachine Multi-Purpose Home Steamer Steam Cleaner

3. Use The Proper Tools

I used the upholstery tool, pulled the trigger to allow the steam to flow and then slowly ran the head over each cushion.

It's a lightweight machine so it didn't require much effort. 

4. Don't Use Too Much Steam

I found that moving the tool slowly was the key. Going slow allowed me to control the amount of steam.

I didn't want to get the fibers too wet, as that could cause other issues, but just steamy enough to penetrate the fabric.

Steam Cleaning Couch Cushions

I found that the steam worked very well on the material by softening and fluffing the fibers. I was pleased, but sort of expected that.

Here's a 15 second video of my technique. Nothing fancy just long, even strokes.

What I was more surprised about, was that it penetrated the deeper levels and fluffed that, as well.

5. Add Extra Fluff

That allowed the stuffing to become malleable so that I was able to reposition it to fill those holes with Poly-Fil that had been created over the years from elbows, knees, heads and the occasional sneaker.

Yes, sneakers.

On my couch.

How dare they?

Anyway. The steam alone mitigated about 90% of those trouble areas.

On the last few stubborn spots, I unzipped the cushions and stuffed a little fiber fill inside.


Fixing Floppy Couch Cushions With Fiberfill

6. Don't Forget The Pillows

Once the entire sectional frame and all the cushions has been steamed, I tackled the pillows.

They were easy to do and looked brand new when I was done. They didn't require any stuffing, but I if the pillows were flat, I would've fixed them.

Steam Cleaning Pillows

I would estimate that the entire process took me less than 30 minutes and that included the few times I stopped to use a little extra steam to remove ice cream and chocolate syrup stains.

As if sneakers weren't bad enough.

However, once the steamer was put away, all of those infractions didn't seem to matter anymore.

The sofa looked and, even better, smelled fresh and new.

Clean And Fluffed Sectional Couch In A Family Room

I couldn't believe the results and how amazing the entire room looked once that stinky, stained, sloppy and slouchy sectional was spruced up.

No need to buy another couch now.

Instead I think I'll invest in a basket to collect sneakers that make it past the back door pile.

Oh and bibs.

Lots and lots of bibs.
How To Steam Clean And Revive Your Old Sofa
Have you ever steam cleaned your couch?

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  1. LOL Kim. This is an amazing steamer. I might just have to get one of these. I do not have kids so much anymore but I do have a doggie that likes to get on my white couch. I am so amazed at how nice your sectional came out. What a time and money saving little magic steamer.

    1. Thanks Kris! It really is amazing and can you believe I won it? I entered that giveaway on a whim and it's become one of all-time favorite tools. Hugs!

  2. Hey Kim, good for you for using the steam cleaner on the couch and what a great idea! It looks great and yes, I too have a lived in house with a dog and all. I wonder if you could use it on damask fabric as I love my old couch in my living room. Yes, I might have to get a steamer too! I have a couch in my basement that could use a good cleaning also.
    Julie xo

    1. Hi Julie! Damask fabric is tough because it’s usually made with silk or wool. Before you hit it with a steamer I would be tempted to call the manufacturer or check the care tag. My sofa was made of a polyester blend, which is basically plastic! Ha!! Nothing fancy about it at all!

  3. Wow, I am impressed! Your sofa looks new. We may have to invest in one of those babies. It is now on my wish list at Amazon. xoxo

    1. Donna, I entered the giveaway on a whim and was shocked when I won. At first I had no idea what to use it for, now I clean my floors, my drapes, my grout, the showers and tub...well, you the picture! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. Bibs! Why did we ever think they were just for toddlers? The big lobster ones are made for teenagers and husband's. Okay, maybe wives too. Wow, think of all the money you saved! Maybe there will be a time slot for a new couch between kids leaving home and grandkids?

    1. Dewena, when you wrote “wives” I giggled, because I could totally use a bib sometime. Just ask my husband! It’s a running joke. And yes, eventually we will have to replace that sofa. We’ve had it since the kids were toddlers. Time to go…but not until I can be assured that it will look pretty for a bit, like you suggested!

  5. Wow, Kim, that came out great!! I don't think I even realized you had a downstairs family room - if it's anything like my house, mostly my kids didn't use the downstairs family room...they plopped all over my upstairs living room...I'm guessing because they didn't like the mess they had left downstairs - upstairs was so much more inviting! Thankfully all my sofas have washable slip covers because my girls are PIGS. When they were gone there were coffee stains, wine stains, you name it....there was a stain for it. Tide to the rescue!

    1. Thanks Debbie! I was very impressed with the results myself...and yup, we have a basement family room. Thank goodness!! The kids live down there and leave my living room and upstairs family room unscathed. I shudder to think about what those sofas would look like if they decided to hang out in either place...but there's no tv in the living room and mom and dad hang in the family room, so they have no interest in either space! Yippee!!

  6. It looks great Kim. The fabric and sofa style looks very much like one we had from a company called Smith Brothers. That company will actually replace the filling in the cushions for free! My friend just had theirs replaced last spring. It’s like a brand new sofa.

    1. Wow! No kidding? Maybe I should go Google those sofas. I keep my stuff for a long time and once I find something I love, I don't feel the need for change. A re-stuffing would be wonderful. Thanks for the tip!

  7. If your sofa is made by Smith Brothers, would you believe they will replace the cushion filler for free! My friend had hers replaced last spring and it feels like a brand new sofa. I was a bit jealous to find that out because I had recently purchased a Lay Z Boy sofa and I think had I known Smith Brothers service I would have definitely looked at buying a sofa them. Your home is so lovely and I love your blog.

    1. Thank you so much for the tip! You're the second person who recommended Smith Brothers. I definitely need to go check them out ASAP! We really need another sofa in my family room, but I can't find anything I like and if I could just have that one fluffed for free, I would go down that path for sure. Off to peek...and thank you for your lovely, lovely comment about my home and blog. You have no idea how much that means to me. ❤️

  8. That couch DOES look brand new now Kim. Think of all the money you saved not having to buy a new couch! I must admit I used to be like you. I loved a neat house. It might not be clean, but it was neat. Now? Ugh. Since I became a seller, the "stuff" is all over the place.

    1. I sell nothing, Florence and there's still "stuff" all over the place. The kids leave things around all day long. There are trails of backpacks, books, laundry and's neat during the hours no one is here. That's probably a more accurate description. And thank you!

  9. It looks great Kim, amazing job.

    1. Thanks Lorri!! I just want to steam everything now. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. I have never in my life wanted a steamer until right this very minute Kim. Seriously, what a life saver. We have one of those nasteee fabric couches upstairs that's so comfortable but "oh so eeeewheee" after years of abuse. I must try this

    1. I was so amazed by the results, Michelle and I have to admit I wasn't expecting much. I love when that happens!

  11. I love leaving the house in a clean state every day and coming home to same clean house at night! Its the best! I do miss my peeps, but having the house neat as a pin every day was not their priority...And I usually clean our sofa with a cleaning rag rinsed in hot water. Just a few swipes and the fabric perks up. Plus, the terry cloth does a decent job of grabbing the dust and dirt. But I would totally use a steamer if I had one.

    1. That's a great quick fix, Gina. I've done the quick hot water swipe on our cotton sofas upstairs, and you're right it works great. Now that the basement sofa is in better shape, I should try it for quick clean ups downstairs, too. Thanks!

  12. The couch looks fresh and new! So great! I don't have a steamer, or an upholstery cleaner. Might have to think about this though!

    1. Thanks Deanna! I have a tiny handheld one for quick ironing, but I don't think I would've invested in a larger one if I hadn't won this one and had a chance to try it. Of course, now I've grown to depend on it. Great marketing on their part!! Ha!!

  13. We have a downstairs family room, too where the kids and their friends always hung out. During that time, we had an old couch and big chair and yep, they looked like your couch. It always made me smile though, because I loved that the kids liked hanging here and felt comfortable. Now we have an ivory IKEA couch downstairs and no kids around to hang out anymore. (Sniff, sniff - kind of, lol.) We had our old La-Z-Boy couch professionally cleaned a couple of years ago. It looked good at first, but honestly, the results didn't last too long. The couch is too far gone to look good again. We've been couch hunting for quite awhile now and just can't make a decision!

    1. I know I'll miss the kids' mess when they move out and there are no happier days than when the basement is full...but sometimes it looks and smells like a college dorm room. ๐Ÿ˜ฎAnd we've been looking for a sofa to replace my floral one and I can't make a decision yet either!! Good luck on your own sofa hunt.

  14. Steam cleaning is the best! It can really get the dirt and dust out of furniture I haven’t had kids in our home for years. All grown up. Glad your fluffing all went well and you can spend your money elsewhere.

    1. Thanks Linda!! I think I may invest in something fun to wear for spring!!

  15. Replies
    1. Thanks Penny! It feels like one, too, which is pretty shocking.

  16. Hi Kim,

    I would never had the guts to try a steamer. I would have chickened out but as you stated what did you have to lose? It looks great, I can't believe how new it looks.

    Keep take the time to enjoy it because kids will be back on it with ice cream and hot fudge soon enough.

    Wait, your steamer will take it out. I would be standing there watching and have my steamer in my hand. I would be compulsive for sure. What is the name of that? OCD? Yes, that's me big time


    1. I was a little nervous, Cindy, but then I thought, well, it's just water! I have to say it worked out way better than I ever could've imagined and now, as you said, I am armed!! Ha!!

  17. Wow, your sectional looks new! How nice that the steamer worked for you. No, I've never used a steamer but you certainly have made a believer out of me! Thank you for your sweet visit.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

    1. Thanks Shelia! It was a mess...and trust me, it was a lucky win. If I hadn't I don't think I ever would've purchased one. Happy Thursday!!

  18. Kim, this is deja vu!! We were just looking at our sofa this morning and thinking what a mess it is. It is practically new and we don't have any kids on it but we do have the two dogs, but I must admit it is the adults in the room that have ruined it!!! Anyway, we had a professional carpet and upholstery cleaner come into the house about 4 months ago and had them clean both our carpet and the sofa. Evidently, he just moved the dirt around as they both look worse than they did before. Actually, our carpet looks pretty much like what you have in your basement (I didn't even know you had a basement) so have you tried to clean it with your steam cleaner?. What a nice prize to win and it all looks wonderful. Knowing how you work, I'm sure you took more time and care with it than that cleaner did with ours. I think we may have to indulge ourselves..xxoJudy

    1. Sofas really do a take a beating, don’t they? It’s so hard to choose a fabric today that really holds up well and yes, I blame the kids, but we’re just as tough on them. I have used the steamer on the carpet and it’s awesome. The trick with the carpet is the same as the sofa, don’t get it too wet. As far as the home steamer versus the professional one goes, I know from past experience that the pro machines don’t always get cleaned as well as they should. SO sometimes they’re cleaning your sofas with a dirty machine and that’s no good. At least with my own machine, I know that if it’s messy, it’s my own dirt!! ๐Ÿ˜‰ And I hope you were able to find the steamer I used from the post, if not just let me know and I can send it over. Happy Thursday!!

  19. Hi, another great tip! I have two boys and when best buddies come over, I have up to 6 boys or 8 boys. BOYS + CLEAN ... don't equal. LOL
    Thank you Kim! Another great tip.

    How did the gig go in Canada for the girls?

    1. Hi Carla! Girls aren't much better, trust me!! Glad you can use this tip. And Canada was great!! Thanks for asking!!