Question: How do I clean a down stuffed sofa? We have a large sofa with three cushions and three back pillows as well as throw pillows. Insomnia has resulted in sleeping before the TV on the sofa and it has become smelly. I’ve tried using Febreeze. However, it simply masks the bad smell for a brief time. How can the sofa be freshened? It is only five years old and still looks great.
Cleaning down-filled garments and furniture can be a bit tricky, but it is possible. Many times, the smaller pieces can be washed, but larger pieces present more of a challenge. Here are some tips and cleaning steps to thoroughly clean your down sofa cushions and pillows. Any non-removable parts, such as a fabric skirt, should be spot cleaned as regular upholstery.
You Will Need:
- Mild soap (ex: NikWax Down Wash)
- Bath tub or large container
- Tennis balls
Steps to Clean the Down-Filled Pieces:
- Begin by removing any covers on the cushions and pillows and launder those separately following the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions. If there are no instructions, either have them dry-cleaned or wash with cold water and allow to air dry completely.
- Start with the down-filled pillows as they are the safest to wash and dry on your own. If that goes well, you can tackle the cushions.
- Fill the bathtub with cool to warm water and add the appropriate amount of soap as directed on the package. Only use a mild soap, such as baby castile soap or one specifically intended for down products like NikWax Down Wash.
- Place the pillows in the water and push them down several times to work in the soap.
- Allow them to set in the water/soap mixture and soak for about 15 minutes.
- Drain the soapy water from the tub.
- Press on the pillows to remove as much water as possible.
- Refill the tub with clean water to rinse the pillows.
- Press the pillows down to work the water into the pillow and remove all of the soap.
- Drain the water from the tub and press any remaining water out of the pillows.
- Continue rinsing until all of the soap is removed.
- When the piece is completely rinsed, and all of the excess water is removed, it is time to dry the pillows.
- It is best to allow them to air-dry. However, some locations are too humid to allow the pillows to dry before mold and mildew start to form.
- To speed up the drying process, place the pillow into the dryer along with a couple of tennis balls.
- Dry on the no-heat setting until the all of the feathers are completely dry. It’s important that there is no moisture left on the feathers because it will lead to mold and mildew growth. Once this growth occurs, the pillow is ruined and will have to be replaced.
- Once all of the pillows have been cleaned, it is time to work on the cushions. First, you will need to determine if the cushions can be washed. Check the care instructions as well as the make up of the cushion. Some cushions have foam cores with down cushions that are on top. If the down portion is removable, it can be cleaned using the same process as the pillows. If not, you may be able to clean it with the same process as above, using extra caution to ensure the entire piece of foam is dry as well.
- If the cushions cannot be washed, it may be possible to air them out by setting them outside until the smell is removed. Use the sunshine as a natural cleaner and odor killer.
- When the odor is removed and all pieces have thoroughly dried, the covers can be replaced on the cushions and pillows and returned to the sofa for use.
Additional Tips and Ideas
- To avoid similar situations in the future, place a blanket or sheet over the couch when sleeping on it. This will prevent body oils from getting into the feathers and covers and help prevent odors.
- Do not use detergents when cleaning down items as it causes the feathers to become brittle and will shorten the life of the piece.
- If the care tags say that the pieces can be machine washed, use this process as it is much easier and less time consuming. Front-loading washing machines are preferred as the agitators in top loading machines are often too rough and can cause damage.