Sofa Vs Couch – What is the Difference Between Them?

Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

The terms sofa and couch can be used interchangeably to describe the same piece of furniture; however, there are some technical differences between the two terms. What is the difference between a sofa and couch?

In general, sofas are larger and can accommodate four or more people, whereas couches are smaller and have a seating capacity of two to three people. Typically, the purpose of a sofa is to provide stylish seats for guests, whereas couches are meant for lying down, lounging, and relaxing on.

Again, these are just technical differences based on the origins of the terms. In reality, the terms are used interchangeably. The term sofa tends to be more common in the UK, whereas the term couch tends to be more common in the US.

Read on as we further discuss the differences between a couch and a sofa.

Also, take a look at an excellent sofa couch for your home, the Rivet Revolve Modern Upholstered Sofa Couch. This couch is very comfortable, sturdy and adds elegance to the room.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

Sofa Vs Couch – What is the Difference?

Couch vs sofa is a common point of confusion for many. The two terms have long been used interchangeably. In this day and age, the difference between couch and a sofa isn’t discernible anymore. Also, it isn’t a big deal anyway. But if you’re fond of home decor and its history, then it will be interesting to know the difference between them.

In general, these two types of furniture have the same features aside from the apparent reason that you can sit on them. They can also effectively make your place attractive, making it look elegant or cozy. In other words, you can have a formal or informal place, depending on the style of your sofa or couch.

But, historically speaking, sofas and couches are unique from each other. If you specifically consider uniqueness, you’ll learn that they are indeed different in terms of size, uses, and comfort, among other things.

Couches are smaller compared to sofas. But you can lie on a couch–which you can’t do on a sofa. The reason is not that you’re prohibited from lying down on a sofa. It’s just that couches are made with built-in comfort for anyone who wants to lie down on them, while sofas are made to bring comfort to those who just want to sit on them.

What Is a Sofa?

The term sofa is a Turkish word that originated from the Aramaic term sippa and the Arabic term suffah. Sippa means mat, and suffah means bench or ledge in English.

The sofa is a common term in the United Kingdom, and most of the time, heard among the upper class. The term settee is often heard among the non-upper class and means the same as the sofa.

A sofa is typically longer than a couch. It can allow four to five people to sit on it. Many years ago, it was a simple upholstered bench covered with cushions, including back and armrests. But as time passed by, sofa manufacturers learned to combine innovation and modernism effectively. Up until now, sofa makers have never failed to impress us with their innovations.

As we all know, this piece of furniture plays a big role in our living room. Since we always entertain our guests in the living room, we want to ensure that it is always presentable. The best way to do it is to decorate the room with a stylish sofa.

An Example of a Sofa

The famous sofa of the late German humorist Vicco von Bulow or Loriot is one example of an old-style sofa. His sofa was exhibited at the Deutsche Kinemathek museum in Berlin, Germany. A bronze replica of this sofa may also be seen at the Radio Bremen Broadcasting Center. This sofa had entertained countless guests, including the late voice actress Evelyn Hamann.

Similar to how we described a sofa earlier, Loriot’s sofa was made of wood and covered with cushions. The textile fabric used for the cushion didn’t have any design and was plainly green in color. But the structure itself was uniquely designed in such a way that it would provide a sophisticated look to a room.

sofa vs couch
Loriot’s Sofa

What Is a Couch?

The couch is a term primarily used in countries such as Ireland, Australia, South Africa, and North America. It was derived from the old French term couche, which means to lie down in English.

Historically speaking, a couch was mainly innovated as a piece of furniture where one could lie down or sleep. It was not at all meant to have a similar use to that of a sofa.

A couch is typically smaller than a sofa. The reason is that it’s meant to be used by one person at a time only. Unlike a sofa with two armrests, a couch typically has none. However, some couches include one armrest, which mainly serves as the headrest when a person lies down.

Suffice it to say that in older times, the comfort brought about by a couch bordered between that of a sofa and a bed. A couch was more comfortable than a sofa, but it was less comfortable compared to a bed.

Usually, a couch is a piece of upholstered furniture that people place inside the family room. At first, you’ll find yourself lounging on it while watching TV. The next thing you know, you’re already lying down on it. Then, before you even know it, you have already fallen asleep with the TV on.

Chaise Lounge Vs. Couch

sofa vs couch

While our topic focuses on couch vs. sofa, let’s also compare the couch with the chaise lounge.

Like the couch, the chaise lounge is a piece of upholstered furniture where one can comfortably sit or lie down. This type of furniture is believed to have originated from Egypt.

The chaise lounge is a type of reclining chair. There are those made with waterproof materials and are often found at the beach or swimming pools. People don’t usually use a couch on a beach or pool setup. So, the main differences between a chaise lounge and a couch are their functionality and materials used.

Couch Vs. Sofa – Is There a Difference?

Based on what we have discussed, there is indeed a difference between couch and a sofa. But throughout the years, there have been continuous developments in the furniture industry. These developments have brought the functionalities of these two types of furniture closer and closer to each other. It is the reason why the terms couch and sofa are being used interchangeably nowadays.

These days, nobody really notices if the term you use is right or wrong. Whether you say couch or sofa, it is easily understood which type of furniture you’re referring to.

The Best Sofas/Couches – Top 3 Picks

By this time, you already know that you’re not supposed to stress yourself about couch vs. sofa. So, now, let’s look at what sofas or couches look like in modern times.

Here are three of my top picks among the most popular sofas and couches on Amazon:

  1. HomeRoots Sectional Sofa with Ottoman
  2. The Zinus Ricardo Contemporary Upholstered Living Room Couch
  3. The Rivet Revolve Modern Upholstered Sofa Couch

1. HomeRoots Sectional Sofa with Ottoman

The HomeRoots Sectional Sofa with Ottoman is an L-shaped piece of furniture featuring modern linen fabric in dark grey:

Click here to see this sofa on Amazon.

This piece of furniture may seem small, but it is, in fact, comfortable even for a person beyond 6 feet tall.

If you’re looking for durability and practicality, then this couch is for you. It is ideal for people with kids and pets. The fabric is thick and doesn’t get damaged easily. The cushion covers are removable and washable, too.

2. The Zinus Ricardo Contemporary Upholstered Living Room Couch

We always look for comfort, versatility, and style, among other things, when buying a couch. The Zinus Ricardo Contemporary Upholstered Living Room Couch is a piece of furniture that can provide all these features.

Click here to see this couch on Amazon.

This couch takes less than 10 minutes to assemble. The cushion is firm but comfortable. It is not bulky, making it ideal for homes with small spaces. Also, it is impressive how this couch can amazingly transform a room into a stylish one.

3. The Rivet Revolve Modern Upholstered Sofa Couch

The Rivet Revolve Modern Upholstered Sofa Couch comes in different colors, making it easier for buyers to find the one that suits their homes best:

Click here to see this sofa couch on Amazon.

If you’re interested in buying a couch online but is hesitant to do so, then this one is a recommended piece for you.

This couch provides comfort, and at the same time, elegance to any room. The cushion covers are not removable. However, you can easily clean them using an upholstery cleaner and a vacuum cleaner. Another good thing about this couch is that its fabric doesn’t get easily damaged. The color doesn’t quickly fade, too.

Cleaning Tips on Fabric Sofa or Couch Owners

Durability is one of the top priorities of furniture manufacturers when making sofas, couches, or any piece of furniture for that matter. But then, we have to do our part to make our sofas last long, or even longer than expected. One way of taking care of our sofa is by cleaning it regularly.

Reminders Before Cleaning Your Sofa

  • Before you start cleaning your couch, make sure that you have already read the manufacturer’s instructions. This way, you won’t miss out on any special cleaning instructions. Also, it will prevent you from damaging your couch, especially if it is still under warranty.
  • Aside from the piece of paper or booklet that carries the manufacturer’s instructions, check the tags, too. Some manufacturers put their cleaning instructions on the tags.
  • Read and understand the cleaning instructions recommended by the manufacturer. Strictly follow the instructions. Don’t ever attempt a cleaning method that is not endorsed by the manufacturer.

Meaning of Letters Found on Couch Tags

It can be confusing to some to tell the difference between a couch and a sofa; however, what is the same is the tags that are found on them. There is a standard for tags on couches or sofas sold in the United States and many other countries. If you encounter the letters X, WS, S, or W, they are, in fact, cleaning instructions. Below are their meanings:

  • X – The cleaning method you should use for your couch is vacuum cleaning only.
  • WS – You are free to use a solvent-based cleaner or water to clean your couch.
  • S – You cannot use water to clean your couch. You have to use a special solvent-based cleaner for it. It’s not difficult to find this cleaner as it’s readily available in stores.
  • W – You can use water to clean your couch.

Tips on Cleaning a Fabric Couch

couch and sofa differences

To clean a fabric couch or sofa with W or WS tags. The materials you need are the following:

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Liquid dishwashing soap
  • Distilled water
  • A bucket
  • Three pieces of white- or pastel-colored microfiber cloth
  • A vacuum cleaner that has an upholstery attachment

Steps to follow:

  1. To prevent dirt from rubbing on your couch or sofa, you have to start by vacuuming it.
  2. Pour two cups of distilled water, a tablespoon of vinegar, and a tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap in a bucket.
  3. Using the cleaning mixture you have made, dampen one microfiber cloth.
  4. Blot the stained areas of your couch using the wet microfiber cloth. Make sure not to scrub or rub it to avoid damaging the couch.
  5. Dampen another microfiber cloth using distilled water.
  6. Use this damp cloth to blot and remove soap on the affected areas.
  7. Use the last microfiber cloth to dry the affected areas. Remember to blot the couch and not scrub or rub it.
  8. Continue drying the wet areas using an electric fan.

Steam-cleaning Tips

This cleaning method may only be done if your couch/sofa tag or manual specifically indicates that it is safe to steam clean your couch. In this case, the equipment you need is an upholstery steam cleaner.

A steam cleaner typically has a manual that goes along with it. The instructions indicated in it are easy to follow. But, here are extra tips that can make you more efficient in steam cleaning your couch:

  • Before using a steam cleaner, make sure that you vacuum your couch first.
  • Once you’re done vacuuming, steam clean your couch or sofa by following the instructions indicated in its manual.
  • Once you’re done with steam cleaning, vacuum the couch once again.
  • It’s best to steam clean on a nice day so you can air out the room by merely opening your windows.
  • There are steam cleaners that make use of microfiber cloths. If this is the type of steam cleaner you have, you may change the cloth every so often. That way, your cleaner can pick up the dirt effectively.
  • Use an electric fan to help dry your couch completely.
  • Before removing the dirt out from your steam cleaner, wait until the water inside cools down.

Conclusion – Couch Vs Sofa

So when it comes to couch vs sofa, there isn’t much difference. Typically, couches tend to be smaller than sofas. Couches also tend to be more for casual lounging and relaxation. Sofas typically tend to be larger than couches. Sofas also tend to be more for a formal or fancy place for guests to sit.

The two terms, couch and sofa, have long been used interchangeably. In this day and age, the difference between couch and a sofa isn’t discernible anymore. Also, it doesn’t matter which term you choose. But if you’re fond of home decor and its history, then it is interesting to know the difference between sofa and couch.

Related reading:

Chair Lift for Stairs – Top 5 Picks

Most Comfortable Computer Chair – Top 10 Picks

Best Place to Buy Office Chairs

Most Comfortable Couch – Top 10 Picks

Hassock vs Ottoman – What is the Difference Between Them?