How To Get Mildew Smell Out Of Your Couch

My couch is one of my go-to places, especially after a long day at work.

It’s comfy and cozy, but when it started to smell like mildew, I knew I had to do something.

If you have also noticed a mildew smell lingering around your favorite living room furniture, don’t worry.

We’ve researched how to get mildew smell out of your couch, and it’s easy if you follow the steps below, allowing you to enjoy your after-work space once again without unwanted mildew smell for company.

What You’ll Need

You will need a few simple things to get mildew smell out of your couch.

Baking soda

Baking soda is an excellent natural deodorizer that is used for many different cleaning and deodorizing tasks.

You probably already have baking soda in your kitchen or laundry room, and you can use it to help get rid of the mildew smell on your couch.

1 cup of distilled white vinegar

Vinegar is also a natural deodorizer, and it kills some types of bacteria.

If you are looking for potent white cleaning vinegar, try Calyptus 45% Pure Super Concentrated Vinegar.

This Calyptus brand can be diluted with water and make 9 gallons of cleaning vinegar.

This will probably be enough for years of cleaning.

Even though it’s concentrated, once the vinegar evaporates, you won’t be able to smell it or the mildew smell.

Clean water

The water out of your faucet will work well.

You need enough water to fill up an empty spray bottle after adding the cup of white vinegar.

The water dilutes the vinegar, making your mixture safer to use on your upholstery. 

An empty spray bottle

You can buy a new spray bottle from the grocery store (they should be located on the cleaning supplies aisle), or you can use an old spray bottle you’ve emptied.

I recommend that your spray bottle hold at least 16 oz to make sure you properly dilute your vinegar.

Clean cotton cloth

Your cleaning cloth can be a basic cleaning cloth like you would use in other parts of your cleaning routines.

It doesn’t need to be a specific brand, but it does need to be clean and made of cotton.

You will use this cleaning cloth to rub the vinegar and water mixture into the mildew-smelling areas.

½ cup of Borax

If you decide to wash your couch covers, you should add a ½ cup of Borax into your washing machine, along with your regular laundry detergent, to help get that mildew smell out. 

Step by Step Instructions for Getting Mildew Smell out of Your Couch

Getting that musty mildew smell out of your couch takes some tenacity, but if you follow these four easy steps, you will be able to enjoy your favorite comfy spot without the unwanted mildew smell.

1. Sprinkle The Couch With Baking Soda

Baking soda is a natural deodorizer, and it’s the easiest to use.

So, once you notice a mildew smell around your couch, I recommend first sprinkling baking soda over your couch.

Let it sit overnight (or at least 8 hours), and then vacuum the baking soda off.

2. Spray The Couch With A Water-Vinegar Mixture

If the baking soda does not eliminate the mildew smell, mix water and 1 cup of distilled white vinegar in an empty spray bottle.

Spray the mixture on the affected areas of your couch and rub it gently with your cotton cleaning cloth.

Allow the vinegar to evaporate, taking the mildew smell with it.

Pro tip: Before you spray your entire couch with the vinegar and water mixture, test it in an inconspicuous area first.

This may be under a dust ruffle or on a back corner.

Once you have confirmed the mixture won’t discolor your upholstery, you can proceed as described. 

3. Remove The Foam Cushions And Let Them Sit In The Sun

If the mildew smell lingers on your couch after the first two steps, you will need to take a more aggressive stance against the stench.

If your cushions are removable or zippered, take the cushion form out and allow it to sit outside in direct sunlight for several hours.

Direct sunlight will kill certain bacteria that produce a mildew smell, and vacuuming the form properly afterward will help remove them.

On a related note, if you have problems with mildew on your patio cushions, check out our article that’s dedicated to teaching you how to clean mildew from your patio cushions.

4. Wash The Fabric Upholstery Covers In Warm Water

While your couch cushions are sunbathing, run your upholstery covers through the laundry.

Wash your couch covers in warm water to kill bacteria, and add ½ cup of Borax in along with your regular laundry detergent.

I’ve always used 20 Mule Team All Natural Borax Laundry Detergent Booster & Multi-Purpose Household Cleaner and had excellent results.

After washing, allow your covers to hang dry to prevent any shrinkage that may occur in the dryer.

Pro tip: Check the washing instructions from the manufacturer before washing your upholstery.

Most couch covers can be washed in the washing machine, but I strongly recommend checking the manufacturer’s instructions for any special guidelines or warnings about your specific couch.

Commonly Asked Questions

How can I prevent mildew smell from setting into my couch?

Mildew thrives in moist environments, so keep your couch as dry as possible.

If there’s a spill, clean it up quickly to prevent mold or mildew from settling in.

In addition, you can prevent mildew smell by keeping a steady cleaning regimen.

Vacuum your upholstery once a week and sprinkle it with baking soda once a month (after allowing it to sit for a few hours, vacuum the baking soda off your couch).  

What should I do if the mildew smell lingers after I’ve already tried to clean my couch?

If you notice the mildew smell still lingers after you have completed these four steps, it’s time to call in a professional upholstery cleaner.

They can help you identify any lingering mildew or mold (which produces the mildew smell) while also giving your couch a deep steam clean, which will help remove the mildew smell.


I hope you have enjoyed learning how to get mildew smell out of your couch.

All you need is a little tenacity and some home deodorizing products to remove the mildew smell from your upholstery.

Now that you know, you will be able to enjoy your comfy, cozy couch after a long day of work without worrying about the mildew smell.