How to clean a velvet sofa – no matter the dirt, stain or spill

The experts reveal their top tips to get it back to looking its best

Living room with large turquoise sofa, gallery wall and curved coffee table
(Image credit: Future/Jeremy Phillips)

We love velvet sofas but they’re not always the easiest to keep clean. Because of the plush material – which makes it super cosy and soft to sit on – it can quickly pick up pet hair, dust and debris. But there are some tried and tested ways for how to clean a velvet sofa to get it looking its best again.

Before you start attempting to clean your velvet sofa, it’s important to always check the care instructions for how to clean a sofa you own. Once you've clarified your best sofa's cleaning do's and don'ts you can have a go and put one of these expert-approved tips to the test. We promise your sofa will be looking good as new in no time. 

skirting board colour ideas, blue painted living room with panelling, matching woodwork and walls, blue sofa, hardwood floor, black and metal side table, coral throw and cushions, blue/emerald cushions and rug

(Image credit: Sofa.com)

You may also need to consult a professional upholstery cleaner if your sofa isn’t colourfast. What colourfast means is whether or not your item of furniture will transfer colour. To determine this, you’ll first want to, ‘test a small, inconspicuous area of the sofa for colourfastness,’ says Fantastic Services’ cleaning supervisor Lily Cameron.

‘Dampen a clean, white cloth with water and gently blot the test area. If there's no colour transfer onto the cloth, you can move on to the next cleaning step.’ If there is colour transfer, that’s when you’ll want to seek professional help. But if not, you’re good to get started.

How to clean a velvet sofa

For everyday dust and debris, regularly giving your velvet sofa or seating a light vacuum should keep on top of that. Lily recommends ‘using a soft brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner to gently remove loose dirt, dust, and debris from the velvet surface.’ And don’t forget to vacuum all the seams, as well as down any crevices and along cushions too.

Living area in extension with bi-fold doors to the garden, green sofa and large dog on rug

(Image credit: Future PLC / Kasia Fiszer)

Dealing with spills

However, vacuuming won’t be enough, if and when you spill anything on your velvet sofa.

Kelly Collins, Interior designer and head of creative at Swyft Home does say not to panic if our velvet sofa ever does get stained.

‘For liquid stains like wine, just dampen the fabric and blot,’ Kelly reveals. ‘For anything else, first remove any residue with the edge of a teaspoon.’

‘While water can be used for spot cleaning, it's best to avoid using excessive amounts of moisture on velvet fabric, because it can cause watermarks or leave the fabric looking flattened. Instead, opt for dry cleaning methods or use minimal amounts of water,’ outlines Lily.

Using a damp cloth to delicately dab at the stain is key. You don’t want to scrub at the pile as this will cause it to flatten and could damage the fabric.

More comprehensive cleaning solutions

When the stain or spill needs more than spot cleaning, this is when you’ll want to utilise a stain remover or cleaning solution.

You can make your own homemade solution by ‘mixing a small amount of mild liquid dish soap with lukewarm water,’ or using ‘a mixture of baking soda and lemon juice to tackle a stain, specifically one that smells bad,’ confirms Lily. But you may want to invest in a specialised upholstery cleaner – one that's safe for velvet – and follow the instructions to deal with a stain quickly.

If the entire sofa needs cleaning, Emma Rostron, General Manager at One Less Thing, suggests, ‘using a steam cleaner on the lowest setting with a velvet attachment.’ Again, you’ll want to test the steam cleaner on a small area that would normally be hidden, just to make sure that it doesn't cause any damage to the fabric.

Teal blue velvet sofa with patterned cushion, bright artwork, dark flooring

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Allow your sofa to air dry and smoothe the pile

Finally and possibly most importantly, you need to leave your velvet sofa to air dry. ‘Avoid using heat sources, such as hair dryers or heaters, because they can cause the velvet to shrink or become distorted,’ advises Lily.

‘Once you’ve finished cleaning your velvet sofa, make sure you push the pile back up to smooth it out and give its beautiful sheen and soft feel back,’ affirms Vicki Foster, interiors stylist at ScS.

FAQ

How do I quickly remove pet hair from my velvet sofa?

The cleaning experts at Marigold have a great hack for removing pet hair. Simply pop on a pair of kitchen gloves, ‘dampen with water and rub over your sofa - they act as a magnet to pick up hair,’ they reveal.

Alternatively, you can use a shower squidgy to gather the hair together if you don't have any kitchen gloves to hand.

Ellis Cochrane
Contributor

Ellis Cochrane has been a Freelance Contributor for Ideal Home since 2023. She graduated with a Joint Honours degree in Politics and English from the University of Strathclyde and between her exams and graduation, started a lifestyle blog where she would share what she was buying, reading and doing. In doing so, she created opportunities to work with some of her dream brands and discovered the possibility of freelance writing, after always dreaming of writing for magazines when she was growing up.


Since then, she has contributed to a variety of online and print publications, covering everything from celebrity news and beauty reviews to her real passion; homes and interiors. She started writing about all things homes, gardens and interiors after joining Decor & Design Scotland as a Freelance Journalist and Social Media Account Manager in 2021. She then started freelancing at House Beautiful, Country Living and in Stylist’s Home team. Ellis is currently saving to buy her first home in Glasgow with far too many Pinterest boards dedicated to her many design ideas and inspirations.