How to Sanitize Upholstered Furniture

Jane Smith

Infants, toddlers and children often soil furniture accidentally. Even adults drop food or spill liquids that go unnoticed, which provides bacteria and viruses the toehold they need. Bedbugs can take hold when furniture is outdoors or in storage, as can mice, which bring a risk of hantavirus.

Eliminate the bacteria and viruses in your furniture to keep your family healthy.

Odor-eliminating sprays do not solve the root problem. The only way to prevent recurring illnesses is to eliminate the bacteria and viruses that have taken hold.

Test Color-Fastness

  1. Vacuum the entire couch, including under all the cushions and in all the crevices, using your upholstery brush and crevice tool, to remove all loose dirt and debris.

  2. Remove all arm covers and any removable cushion covers.

  3. Find a place on the underside of your furniture or inside cushion cover where you can test the fabric for color-fastness.

  4. Mix a solution of 1/2 pint triclosan in 1 gallon of water. Triclosan is the active ingredient in most liquid antibacterial household cleaners.

  5. Drip the triclosan solution onto the area you want to test. Wait one hour and proceed if there is no color change in the fabric you tested. Add another gallon of water to the solution to reduce its strength by half if the fabric changes color, and test again.

Apply Sanitizer

  1. Dip a soft-bristled floor-scrubbing brush into the triclosan solution. Shake it until it does not drip but is still damp.

  2. Rub the brush over a small area at a time, using even, overlapping strokes. Rinse the brush after every 2-foot square area and dip it into the triclosan solution again.

  3. Shake the brush and repeat until you have scrubbed about a third or half of the piece of furniture.

  4. Dump the triclosan solution at the halfway point if the furniture is heavily soiled and mix a fresh solution. Finish scrubbing the furniture.

  5. Position one or more box fans so that they blow across the furniture to help it dry faster.

  6. Replace all cushion covers and arm protectors.

Use a Steam Cleaner

  1. Pour 1 oz. triclosan into the steam cleaner tank and add water to the tank fill-line.

  2. Run the steam cleaner over a 2-foot section of the furniture at a time to apply the triclosan solution.

  3. Use suction to remove excess liquid from the upholstery.

  4. Position box fans to blow across the furniture until it dries.

  5. Replace all cushions and arm protectors.

  6. Tip

    Wear gloves when using triclosan. The phenol it contains can irritate skin and eyes. Triclosan is generally considered safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Steam-cleaning is the most effective way to get rid of bedbugs and eliminate hantavirus.

Check out this related video.