Testing a Viral Hack: Can You Clean Your Couch With a Pot Lid?

Should you clean your sofa with a detergent pod? Does the lid-cleaning method work? I put the viral hack to the test.

Published November 8, 2023
Woman wiping dust from sofa and other furniture in living room

TikTok and Instagram "reeled" me in and left me wondering if I could, in fact, clean my couch with a pot lid. The viral videos of cleaning accounts, mom bloggers, and everyday users make the lid-cleaning method look easy and effective.  But I needed to test this method for myself to be sure.

I grabbed my pot lid and my dirty old recliner and put the viral hack to the test. This is what I discovered.

Recliner before
Side chair before

How to Clean Your Couch With a Pot Lid

It sounds crazy and too simple to be true all at once. But social media videos like this one usually leave me believing that a certain method does, in fact, work. I did my research — as much as you can on social media anyway — and got the dirty (or clean) details on this viral hack.

@tipsandtrickswithq #cleantok #tipsandtricks #GenshinImpact33 #lifehack #lifetips #cleaning #tidepods #hacksoflife #hack #kitchen ♬ Ultimate life hacks - Kelly - The Life Bath


  • A clean dish towel (you want an absorbent, textured towel)
  • A small pot lid with a handle
  • A large bowl or basin (make sure it's big enough to submerge your lid)
  • Hot water
  • 1 detergent pod


Wrapping Lid
  1. Start by filling your bowl or basin with hot water from the tap.
  2. Toss in a detergent pod and let it dissolve. Give it a good stir with a spoon to help it along.
  3. Soak your towel in the water and wring it out.
  4. Lay the damp towel on a flat surface and set the pot lid in the center.
  5. Fold the corners inward and tie them in a quick knot to secure the lid.
  6. Scrub your couch, chair, carpet, or other upholstered item using the wrapped handle of the lid.
  7. Let your piece dry entirely. Set it outside in the sun if possible.
Quick Tip

Vacuum your carpet or upholstery before you get started with this method. 

My Experience Testing the Lid Cleaning Method

Once I learned the how-to from TikTok, I got to work on our recliner in desperate need of a refresh. It's my husband's favorite lazy chair, my toddler's preferred snuggle spot, and a magnet for stains. I figured if the lid-cleaning method could work on this thing, it could work on anything. I also decided to try the method on a side chair in my dining room that was discolored from long-time use and stained with set-in playdough from my toddler.

The Cleaning Process

When I set out to clean the recliner and side chair with this method, I was approaching the process as a comparison to cleaning upholstery with my Bissel Little Green. Though I know they aren't exact equals, I wanted to see how one compared to the other in effectiveness and time needed to accomplish the task.

The lid-cleaning method is fast! I was finished with cleaning the recliner in less than half the time it takes to use my Bissel. Since you're more or less just scrubbing the furniture, the speed of this clean is really up to you. The dry time, however, is pretty long. As you're scrubbing you're saturating the fabric, so it takes some time before you can sit on the furniture again.

I also noticed my arms weren't nearly as tired as they are using other upholstery cleaning methods. No scrubbing with spot cleaner or pressing the nozzle of steam cleaner into your sofa really makes a difference.

The Results

I must say, I was not expecting much in the way of results with the lid-cleaning method. Something just felt too easy about the approach to yield a noticeable result. But when I lifted the cloth-covered lid after scrubbing, I could tell it was doing something. My white towel was now marked with brown streaks and tons of dirt! 

Towel after cleaning

I also noticed some of the stains on my recliner were gone. It appears this method lifted nearly everything besides the ink and marker stains (creative toddlers do a number on your furniture) and some of the stains even my best cleaning methods don't touch. After the dining room side chair was dry, I realized all but one of the playdough stains were gone as well. 

Recliner after
Side chair after

Important Considerations

After using this method on two well-loved upholstered pieces in my home, I came away with a few important things to keep in mind. If you plan to test the hack yourself, you may want to know these important factors.

  • Most videos show submerging the towel before wrapping it around the lid. Though I think this is helpful at the start, I found it effective to continue dipping the covered lid in the water as I went.
  • If you do submerge the whole covered lid, you can't wring it out. So, you're saving time and effort, but adding a lot of water to your very absorbent upholstery. I wouldn't recommend this for large items like sofas or installations like carpet. If it's an item you can move outside to air out and dry entirely, I think it works.
  • You're using a whole dishwasher pod in a small amount of water. My biggest mistake was skipping gloves. It took forever to get the detergent residue off of my hands.
  • This cleaning method is cleaning your furniture, not sanitizing it. For that, I do recommend using a steam cleaner.
  • I wouldn't consider this a deep cleaning method. It's only cleaning the surface of your piece and not reaching deep into the fabric. If you need a quick, dirt-lifting method, this works fairly well.
Fast Fact

You can use a dishwasher or laundry detergent pod for this method. Both are seen in the viral videos.

Final Thoughts on the Lid Cleaning Method

While I found this method easy, fairly effective, and quick, I'm not sure I would use it again. These are the reasons I would choose a steam cleaner, a stain remover, or another method to clean my upholstery before I reached for my small saucepan lid again.

  • That whole detergent pod is a lot! I'm not a fan of using such a concentrated product on furniture my family uses often.
  • The dry time is a challenge. I felt that my furniture took an entire day to be fully usable again.
  • I have concerns about the moisture. There's a lot of water seeping into your upholstery as you scrub with this method. That leaves me with some concerns about mildew and moisture becoming trapped in the fabric or deep in the cushions. 
  • It doesn't smell that great. Most of the videos I saw boasted of how wonderful your furniture and home smells after trying this method. Personally, I don't want my chair to smell like it just finished a cycle in my dishwasher.
  • I didn't feel that satisfying clean once my furniture was dry. The fabric on my recliner was a bit stiff, and I did notice a soapy residue left behind (I'm thinking this sort of fabric needs a very thorough rinse, as I didn't have the same issue on the side chair). Though some of the stains were gone, it just didn't feel super clean.

The Lid-Cleaning Method May Work for You

So much of the cleaning world isn't actually black and white — there are a lot of gray areas. I didn't love this cleaning method, but you might! It could be helpful if you just need an easy cleaning approach, have a set-in stain, or want a cost-effective method to maintain the cleanliness of your home's upholstery. Give it a try if you like and discover if it's worth adding to your cleaning routine.

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Testing a Viral Hack: Can You Clean Your Couch With a Pot Lid?