How to Clean Your Suede Couch in 8 Simple Steps

Make your old suede sofa look brand-new again 

Justine Harrington
Reviewed by Asya Biddle
Updated August 17, 2022
Mother and children playing on couch
Photo: filadendron / Getty Images


Flex your DIY muscles.

Time to complete

4 hours

Total time depends on how long your suede upholstery needs to dry.



You might need a thing or two.

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What you'll need:


  • Vacuum (with an upholstery brush attachment)
  • Bucket(s)
  • Suede brush
  • Scrub brush
  • Spray bottle
  • Microfiber cloth


  • Suede cleaner
  • Dish soap
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cornstarch

Your couch is one of the most high-traffic areas in your home, so it’s important to know how to clean and maintain it. Let’s be real—dirt smudges, red wine stains, food crumbs, and pet hair are all a normal part of everyday life. But once you know how to clean up spills, stains, and debris, you’ll never have to endure a dirty sofa again. 

Whether your upholstery is made from real suede or microfiber suede, it’s all about using the right cleaning supplies and methods that are targeted for your specific fabric. Here’s how to clean your suede couch in just a few quick and easy steps.

  1. Establish the Type of Suede

    First, determine whether your sofa is made from real suede upholstery or microfiber suede. Cleaning methods will vary depending on the fabric (and you could do some real damage if you don’t use the correct method). 

    Real or natural suede is made from animal hide, whereas microfiber suede is made from nylon and polyester fibers. The latter is more resistant to stains and dirt and is easier to clean because of the tightly woven fibers.   

    Check the care tag attached to your furniture, so you know how to use the appropriate cleaning methods. 

    You should see one of these on your tag:

    • W: A water-based cleaning agent must be used.

    • S: Only water-free cleaning agents should be used.

    • S/W: Both water-based and water-free cleaning agents can be used. 

    • X: Never use liquid-based cleaning agents of any kind, only a vacuum. 

    • No tag: Search for the manufacturer’s website or contact their customer service.  

    Before using a cleaning agent of any kind on your upholstery, always take the time to pre-test a small hidden area first. You’re checking to ensure that it’s safe for the fabric and doesn’t cause color loss or water spots.

  2. Vacuum Away Debris

    With both natural suede and microfiber suede, start by vacuuming away any dirt or debris from the surface of your couch. Take off all removable cushions and use an upholstery brush attachment to get every last speck of dust. 

    And, note that it’s a good idea to vacuum your natural suede upholstery (and/or use a suede brush to get rid of dirt and freshen up the fiber) at least once a week to prevent dirt and dust from accumulating. Regular maintenance takes just a few minutes and is key to preserving the quality of your sofa.

  3. Treat Stains Immediately

    Don’t wait to clean sofa stains. If you spill something on your couch, the quicker you act, the better chance you’ll have of being able to remove it. Here’s how you should treat stains for both natural suede and microfiber.

    For natural suede upholstery, gently blot out damp spills and let them dry. Never use water to clean suede; this will stain your couch. Rather, use a cleaner that’s specially formulated to clean suede. 

    If you’re dealing with an oil-based stain (and want to go the all-natural route), you could also try sprinkling a little cornstarch over the stain. Make sure to let the cornstarch sit for a few hours before vacuuming it up or dusting it off. And, commercial glue removers are very effective for getting rid of sticky residue.

    For microfiber suede upholstery, refer to the attached care tag to learn how to proceed. If you have an “S” cleaning code, fill a spray bottle with rubbing alcohol and spray the stain, just enough to dampen the fabric. Rub a sponge over the stain and then let it dry. Finish by using a suede brush to soften the fibers and restore the finish of the suede.

  4. Make the Cleaning Solution

    You can create a DIY solution for cleaning your upholstery (as long as it’s microfiber). To do so, mix 4 cups of warm water in a bucket and add roughly ¼  cup of dishwashing liquid. Stir it up as vigorously as possible so that a bunch of suds form. (Then, follow the steps below.)

  5. Spread the Suds

    Spread the soap suds as evenly as possible on your couch by dipping a scrub brush into the suds (not the water) and rubbing the fabric in a circular motion. You can blot with a clean dry cloth and refresh the suds as needed.

  6. Rinse Away the Suds

    Set aside another bucket full of plain water. Dampen a microfiber cleaning cloth with the water and wipe away the suds.  

  7. Dry the Fabric

    Now, it’s time to let your sofa dry completely. Air-drying is best; you can speed up the process by opening windows and/or using fans. Once everything is bone-dry, use the upholstery brush attachment on your vacuum to brush and fluff the fibers.  

  8. Consult an Upholstery Cleaning Professional

    Especially when it comes to natural suede, don’t hesitate to contact a professional upholstery cleaner to help you get rid of stubborn stains. The longer that stains sit on your upholstery, the more damage they’ll do. 

    In addition, you should get your upholstery professionally cleaned at least once a year, to keep your furniture looking great for as long as possible.

DIY Suede Couch Cleaning vs. Hiring a Pro

Trying to decide whether you should hire a pro to do the job? When it comes to the cost of professional upholstery cleaning services, the average price to have a piece of leather furniture cleaned is between $175 and $195, although prices vary by region/city. 

"When it comes to upholstery cleaning, I always recommend the homeowner weigh the benefits of hiring a pro,” said Asya Biddle, Angi Expert Review Board member and manager of The Dustbusters, a family-owned and operated janitorial company in Williamsport, PA. “A professional service will have the proper chemicals and equipment needed to safely and fully remove any dirt, debris, and staining. Plus, they’ll ensure the solution is thoroughly extracted from the upholstery and dried so the furniture doesn’t become a breeding ground for bacteria and mold."

If you’re doing the cleaning yourself, you’ll just need to invest in the right cleaning product(s)—the average cost of a 20-ounce bottle of cleaning fluid is $14. 

If you’re tackling mild stains, DIY methods usually do the trick. For deep-set stains, it’s always a good idea to hire a professional. Proper (aka professional) cleaning will help prolong the lifespan of your upholstery.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.