How to clean a velvet couch – and the mistakes that will ruin it

It's a common misconception that velvet is high maintenance, but it's worth knowing how to clean a velvet couch properly

country living room with two sofas and a coffee table
(Image credit: Future PLC / Brent Darby)

Velvet couches have been soaring in popularity since 2020, with more and more of us choosing this plush material for our living spaces. We all know roughly how to clean a couch, but velvet requires extra careful attention, as it's a higher pile material than other less luxurious fabrics, and a little more delicate.

First things first: check the manufacturer's cleaning instructions. It's also worth knowing whether the velvet is made of synthetic, silk, or cotton fibers, as synthetic tends to be more resistant to stains.

We turned to cleaning professionals to find out how to clean a velvet couch properly, and the mistakes you seriously want to avoid. Below, we have plenty of expert guidance, whether you've got a wet stain that needs removing right now or if things are just looking tired and creased.

living room with wooden flooring and blue velvet couch in the window

(Image credit: Future PLC / ANNA STATHAKI)

Shopping list

How to clean a velvet couch: a quick step-by-step

  • Gather your tools and supplies
  • Vacuum the couch
  • Gently blot stains with lint free cloth and a solution of warm water and dish soap
  • Steam to remove creases
  • Let it dry
  • Brush the velvet

1. Vacuum the couch

First, you'll need your vacuum cleaner at the ready. Use the crevice tool and soft brush attachment to remove dust and dirt gently, and rotate the cushions. Tick off this task when doing a weekly clean and you'll avoid dust building up and keep your couch looking fresh. 

Go a step further and invest in one of the best handheld vacuum cleaners to make this job super easy. If you've got pets, a pet vacuum or lint roller will help remove pet hair that may have accumulated.

2. Use a steamer or iron on a steam setting

While cleaning upholstery you might also want to take the time to remove any creases. Remove creases as soon as you notice them to prevent them from becoming permanent. You can either use a clothes steamer held a safe distance away from the fabric or your iron set on a steamer setting. Make sure the iron never makes contact with the fabric.

orange velvet sofa with monkey side table and artwork hung on wall above

(Image credit: Future PLC / James Merrell)

3. Spot clean wet stains

Clean up spills as soon as they happen. Just to be safe, we recommend spot testing on a hidden area the first time you use a cleaning product on the fabric, in case it causes any discoloration or damage. 

Unlike cleaning a leather sofa, you don't actually need any specialist cleaning products. Simply mix warm water and some mild dish soap in a bowl to create lots of suds, and then dip your lint-free cloth into the solution, wring out any excess moisture and gently blot away stains. The key is to blot, don't rub. Rubbing vigorously may damage the fibers and leave a mark.

'I blot blot blot on anything wet, but you mustn't push too hard,' says Homes & Gardens Global Editor in Chief Lucy Searle. 'If I'm going to clean my velvet sofa, I always brush in the direction of the pile. Afterwards, I always use a dry cloth on it to brush the velvet back into shape. I never, ever rub it. I get it professionally cleaned annually, too.'

Lucy Searle
Lucy Searle

Lucy Searle has written about interiors, property and gardens for over 30 years, starting within the interiors departments of women's magazines before switching to interiors-only titles in the mid-1990s. She spent five years as Associate Editor on Ideal Home, one of Britain's biggest and oldest interiors titles. In 2018, Lucy took on the role of Global Editor in Chief for, taking the site from a small magazine add-on to a global success, with a large US audience. She was asked to repeat that success at Homes & Gardens, where she has also taken on the editorship of the magazine, which is the UK's oldest interiors magazine at 103 years old. Lucy is a serial renovator and also owns rental properties in the UK and Europe, so brings first-hand knowledge to the subjects she oversees.

Mistakes to avoid when cleaning a velvet couch

red velvet sofa in living room with table lamp and oval coffee table

(Image credit: Future PLC / John Day)

Use these methods to clean a velvet couch and you are more likely to damage it than improve its appearance.

1. Not vacuuming regularly

According to the cleaning professionals at Hellamaid, a top-rated cleaning company in Ontario, Canada, the velvet pile of your couch can suffer gradual wear and tear while you move around on the seat if you don't vacuum it regularly. 'The dust particles serve as millions of small abrasive surfaces,' they explain. 'You can avoid this by routinely vacuuming your velvet furniture. This way, dust is eliminated before it has an opportunity to harm the pile.'

2. Not letting it dry completely

If you clean a velvet couch but don't let it dry completely, this will damage the material and will also cause odors over time. Taking too long? Use a hair dryer on its lowest setting, being careful not to go too close to the fabric.

3. Positioning it in direct sunlight

'The chemical components that give velvet its color can be destroyed by UV radiation, which will make it appear dull over time,' says Hellamaid. 'When UV ruins a color, it is permanently lost.' Avoid patches by covering the couch with a blanket or closing blinds and drapes when it's particularly sunny.

4. Not acting fast enough on stains

Stains that have been left on the velvet for an extended period of time will be far harder to remove, so if you've spilt wine or food on the couch, time is of the essence.

5. Trying to clean a wet couch

If for some reason your couch has got wet from rain or snow, make sure you leave it to dry before cleaning, advises Hugo Guerrero, a certified House Cleaning Technician and consultant at Mattressive. 'You can't clean wet fabric with soapy water; it will just spread the moisture around and make things worse,' says Hugo.

6. Using harsh chemicals

Hugo explains that products like bleach and ammonia are likely to strip the color out of your couch, which can make it look dull and old. So stick to dish soap and warm water.

7. Using too much water

'Don't use too much water on the fabric – it'll just make it saggy and wrinkly, which is not what you're going for!' Hugo Guerroro comments.

8. Drying it out in the sun or by a heat source

'Don't put your wet velvet couch in direct sunlight or near a heat source, as this will cause it to shrink and fade prematurely,' Hugo adds.

blue and yellow living room with leather coffee table and velvet sofa and chair with dog sat down on the floor

(Image credit: Future PLC / Paul Massey)

Is a velvet couch hard to clean?

'Velvet couch cleaning differs from other materials,' say the experts at Hellamaid. 'It is a bit challenging but doable. It would be best if you were more gentle when cleaning velvet furniture since the short, dense pile of velvet fibers that protrude from the support material makes it easier for them to flatten.'

Millie Hurst
Section Editor

Millie Hurst is a freelance lifestyle writer with over six years of experience in digital journalism. Having previously worked as Solved Section Editor at Homes & Gardens and Senior SEO Editor at News UK in London and New York, Millie has written for an array of homes brands including Livingetc and Real Homes and was formerly Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home. She has written and edited countless features on home organization, decluttering and interior design and always hopes to inspire readers with new ways to enjoy their homes. She lives in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, and loves to weave nature-inspired decor and nods to time spent in Italy into her own home.