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How to Clean a Natural & Faux Suede Couch

purple suede couch in the middle of a large white inspired living room

Both natural and faux suede are soft and comfortable coverings for couches, however, they require very different cleaning methods. This is extremely important to keep in mind because the wrong cleaning tools, products, or techniques can all cause irreparable damage to the material. Now, for most homeowners who are aware of that, it can be a daunting task to even consider doing by yourself unless, of course, you know what and how to do it! That’s exactly what you are going to learn from Maid For You today!

Whether your suede couch has encountered stains, or just needs a routine clean to freshen up the material, the crucial information you need on how to clean a suede couch, both faux and natural, can be found below.

How to Distinguish Between Faux and Natural Suede Couches

person wearing white gloves cleaning suede couch with clear cleaning solution

Before you begin, you must determine what type of suede your couch is upholstered in to ensure that the right cleaning method is applied. This may be mentioned on the label but if not, you can differentiate between the two by simply feeling the material.

Here is a brief description of both types of suede to help you determine which material your couch is covered in:

Faux Suede

 Also known as ‘microfibre suede’, faux types of suede are generally made from nylon and polyester fibres which are woven tightly, and trimmed to look and feel like natural suede. The major difference is that faux suede feels more durable (and thicker, in some cases) while also having an unnaturally soft feel to it.

Natural Suede

 Made from animal hide, the fibers are napped and feel soft and frizzy to the touch. The material is also thinner and therefore, feels more delicate as compared to faux suede.

Of course, if you’re still unsure about the type of suede couch you have, the next best thing to do is follow the cleaning codes/washing symbols provided on the label. 

What are Cleaning Codes?

When there are no written instructions on how to clean certain materials, cleaning codes and/or washing symbols serve as those instructions. They are like concise ‘dos and don’ts’ mentioned on the textile’s care tag.

Here are the cleaning codes you must be aware of when cleaning a suede sofa/couch:

  • W - This indicates that water-based cleaning solvents can be used.
  • S - Dry cleaning solvents must be used; water-based cleaners should be avoided.
  • X - No cleaning agent is suitable; only wiping with a dry cloth and vacuuming is advised, or cleaning methods applied by a professional. 
  • W-S - Both dry cleaning and water-based solvents can be used.

Keeping the critical information mentioned above firmly in mind, you may proceed to Maid For You’s step-by-step guides on how to clean your suede couch.

Steps to Clean a Faux Suede Couch

woman wiping down white suede couch with green microfibre rag

Most faux suede couches and sofas can be cleaned with water-based cleaners, however, it’s important to check the label to ensure that the couch does, indeed, have a ‘W’ or W-S’ cleaning code. If so, follow the steps below to clean your faux suede couch.

Step 1: Vacuum the Couch

Do a thorough vacuuming of the entire couch using an upholstery brush attachment. Be sure to get those nooks and crannies that often collect all kinds of dust and debris.

Step 2: Make a Sudsy Cleaner

Depending on the size of the couch, make a cleaning solution consisting of 1 part liquid dish soap to 6 parts water (in a bucket or basin). Whisk it well to form a thick layer of suds (this will be used for the cleaning part). 

Step 3: Clean With a Brush

Using a suede brush or gentle upholstery brush, scoop up some of the suds in your palm (without touching the water), and spread it over a small section of the couch before gently scrubbing it with the brush. Start at the highest point of the couch and work your way downwards, finishing off with the armrests. Be sure to rinse off the brush at intervals to prevent spreading dirt around; it’s important to shake off as much excess water when you do this.

NOTE: If the suds in the bucket evaporate in the meantime, add a small amount of liquid dishwashing, and whisk again. Check to see if the water is still clean or needs to be replaced before adding in more soap.

Step 4: Wipe the Couch

To remove the cleaning solution, wipe the couch with a clean, merely damp microfibre cloth. Again, you will need to rinse the cloth out as it becomes soapy but, be sure to wring it completely before reusing it.

Allow the couch to air-dry, preferably in a well-ventilated room with ceiling fans running to help speed up the drying process. 

Steps to Clean a Natural Suede Couch

person cleaning purple suede couch with vacuum cleaner and brush

There isn’t much to do when cleaning natural suede unless there are stains that need to be treated. Of course, it is highly recommended that you call in a cleaning professional for the job as one wrong move by the do-it-yourselfer can cause the material to shrink or leave watermarks!

Nevertheless, here are some basic steps to clean and remove stains from your natural suede couch.

Step 1: Vacuum the Couch

Again, use the upholstery head to vacuum the suede couch thoroughly. Bear in mind that regularly vacuuming is important because it gets rid of debris that has the potential to damage the material.

Step: Remove Stains

There are a couple of safe stain removal methods for natural suede, however, they may not be effective for treating severe and/or old couch stains. If you’re dealing with sticky stains including sticker residue on your suede couch, a solvent-based glue remover, and soft microfibre cloth can help get them out. Cornstarch and baby powder, on the other hand, is great for treating oily stains by simply absorbing them. All you need to do is cover the stain with either product and allow it to sit for an hour, or longer; then, brush off the powder and repeat if needed.

No, cleaning your suede couch isn’t hard, however, under some circumstances, the services of a trained professional are definitely advised. So, if it’s something you think you can handle, use the guides above to clean your natural or faux suede couch; and if it’s not, hire a professional cleaner for a safe and thorough, deep clean!

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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