Why the viral sofa cleaning hack might do more harm than good

Experts are now saying this popular hack shouldn't be your go-to method

Neutral living room with patterned blinds on windows
(Image credit: Sofology)

Another day, another TikTok cleaning hack! The video platform is often a hub of excellent cleaning advice, giving us practical ideas and inspiration for how to make our spaces spick and span on a daily basis.

But this doesn’t mean that all the clever hacks and tricks we see on the app are a good idea. In fact, it often pays to be cautious when following cleaning advice via social media – and it’s always important to consider whether the tricks being recommended are actually right for you and your home.

An intriguing hack for how to clean a sofa has been circulating around the app – and all it requires is a cloth, a saucepan lid, and a washing tablet. But it may not quite be as good an idea as it seems…

Why this expert doesn't recommend this TikTok hack for cleaning your sofa

There are currently thousand of videos displaying this sofa cleaning trick on TikTok,  each with thousands – and even millions – of views. 

So how exactly does this popular hack work? The idea is that you add a washing machine tablet, or simply some washing detergent into a bowl, and dissolve/dilute it with enough boiling water to fill said bowl.

Then, once the water has cooled, you’ll need to dip a fairly large clean cloth into the bowl, before wringing it out to get rid of excess water. Finally, tie the cloth around a saucepan lid, securing it so it is as taut as possible. All you then need to do is drag the cloth and lid across your sofa cushions and arms, in order scrub off all the dirt on top of the upholstery.


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Sounds simple and harmless enough, right? As it turns out, this easy cleaning job may not actually be the best trick for getting your sofa gleaming. 

In fact, cleaning expert Deirdre McGettrick, co-founder and CEO of ufurnish.com, explains that it has the potential to harm your upholstery in the long run.

'Whilst the idea of wrapping a cloth around a saucepan lid to make the cloth move across the sofa easier is quite clever, I wouldn’t recommend copying this hack.'



She actually explained that it has the potential to encourage mould to grow within your sofa. 'This method of cleaning involves dampening your sofa, allowing moisture to travel deeper than just the cover.' 

'Air drying can take quite some time, and over time, without proper drying, the moisture inside your sofa could cause mould to grow. Should this happen, a new sofa would need to be purchased.' While there are plenty of sofa deals around, this likely isn't an expense you'll want to have every couple of years!

And that's not all. Deirdre explained that another issue with this trick is the fact that the laundry detergent used won't be rinsed off of the sofa, as it normally would in a washing machine. 

'When used in a machine, the detergent is rinsed off of clothes, so no residue is left behind. With this method, that isn’t possible,' she said. 

'Not only could this lead to a build-up of detergent residue on your sofa, making it potentially uncomfortable to sit on, but the chemicals could act as an irritant to those sitting on the sofa and in a very worst-case scenario, cause chemical burns.'

While various fabrics react in different ways, definitely don't attempt this when trying to clean a linen sofa as the detergent can damage the delicate linen fabrics.

White painted living room with large windows, blinds, L shaped cream sofa

(Image credit: Future PLC/Anna Stathaki)

So how should we be cleaning our sofas instead, if this hack isn’t quite the right option? Though it may sound like more work, Deidre suggests removing sofa covers every few months instead, for a more thorough clean.

'After doing this, either dry them in a tumble dryer or on the line, ensuring that they are 100% dry before putting them back on the sofa,' she said. 'And for spot cleaning, invest in or hire a proper upholstery vacuum cleaner. This will help to clean up stains and dirt whilst ensuring no moisture is left in your sofa.'

In between cleans, it's also perfectly safe to use one of the best vacuum cleaners to pick up bits of dirt and debris that drop in between cushions, too.


 Amy Hunt is an experienced digital journalist and editor, now working in a freelance capacity specialising in homes and interiors, wellness, travel and careers. She was previously Lifestyle Editor at woman&home, overseeing the homes, books and features sections of the website. Having worked in the industry for over eight years, she has contributed to a range of publications including Ideal Home, Livingetc, T3,Goodto, Woman, Woman’s Own, and Red magazine