Scenic Erie Station Village

How to Make an Old Sofa Look New


Woman napping on a sofa with her dog. Image credit: Jep Gambardella

October 2023


Of all the furniture in your Erie Station Village apartment or townhome, it’s your sofa that probably gets the most use. Sitting, napping, eating, drinking… a lot can happen there. Which also means your sofa can show some wear and tear over time. Whether it’s sagging, has some stains, or just needs a facelift, it’s not that hard to get yours looking new again. Also, if you have the opportunity to pick up a used sofa that needs to TLC, these tips might just give you the courage to bring it home.

Thorough Cleaning

First check the label. Sofas that can be cleaned with water will have a W or WS, an X means vacuum only, and an S requires a dry detergent.

If you can get the fabric wet and your cushions have zip off covers, you can put them in the washing machine. However, you’ll need to air dry them, rather than use your dryer, so they don’t shrink.

If the fabric isn’t removeable, take off all the cushions and give everything a thorough vacuuming with the brush/upholstery attachment. Then sprinkle the upholstery with baking soda, let it sit for 15-20 minutes, and vacuum again.

Any areas with stains can be cleaned using an upholstery cleaner (like Resolve) or you can make your own. For water-approved sofas, mix 1 teaspoon dishwashing liquid, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, 1 cup of warm water, and 1 teaspoon baking soda in a spray bottle. It will bubble up but don’t worry, just screw on the spray top. Lightly spray stains and with rub with a clean, soft cloth.

For leather sofas, start by vacuuming all the nooks and crannies. Then use either a leather cleaner and conditioner made for furniture.

Sagging Middles

If you couch has developed a sag in the middle, it’s most likely because the springs need to be replaced. While that’s a costly job you most likely can’t do yourself, there is an easy fix that can help. Insert a ¼-inch-thick sheet of plywood under the cushions. Just measure the length and width you need and any home center can cut it for you. Be sure it doesn’t stick out too far from the cushions, so you can’t see it.

Flat Cushions

If your cushions aren’t as cushy as they used to be, you can replace the foam. You can use an upholsterer for this, but you may not want to make that large of an investment in your sofa. It’s not too hard to do yourself if your cushions have zip off covers. Just remove the covers and use the old foam, or the cover itself as a template. High-density polyurethane upholstery foam is a good choice. You can cut it with a serrated knife – a large bread knife is perfect for the job. Just make sure the foam is about a ½-inch larger than the template.

Consider a Slipcover

If your sofa has a bit too much cosmetic damage, consider a slipcover. You can hire a professional to make one, buy an elastic version online, or sew one yourself if you’re crafty.