How to Pick a Sofa Bed That's for Regular Use — What Experts Recommend so You Don't Sacrifice Comfort

Experts explain the qualities needed in a sofa bed that you (or your guests) are going to be sleeping on regularly

a sleeper sofa set up as a bed
(Image credit: Lulu & Georgia)

For those seeking to save space (and money), a two-in-one piece of furniture is a dream. Enter the sofa bed: need more guest space to watch the big game? You have an extra sofa. Your mom was visiting from out of town and now wishes to spend the night? Unfold the chair to produce an extra bed.

Investing in a good quality piece of furniture in such an instance is a must because it has to be sturdy and comfortable enough to serve multiple functions well. It isn’t enough to just be a comfortable chair – if you’re laying on it at night in discomfort you’ve got a problem. And let’s not forget about stains. If the material isn’t cleaning-friendly your furniture will become weathered in no time.

We talked to experts to learn the key qualities shoppers should look for when purchasing the best sleeper sofa for regular use. From which surfaces are most washable to tips to extend the life expectancy of your furniture, read on before hitting ‘head to cart’.

A sofa bed extended in a loft apartment with a dark panelled wall

(Image credit: Snug)

A sofa bed, as the name suggests, is a two-in-one combination of a sofa and a bed. Ideal for guest bedrooms and home offices, the combined nature of the piece can be a great choice not just for lounge spaces but also for bedrooms as they are typically far smaller than your average bed.

‘The piece usually comes in the form of a sofa but then can be folded out when needed for sleeping,’ says Carlie Gasia, a Certified Sleep Science Coach at Sleepopolis. 

Priding their existence beyond practicality, functionality, and versatility, the loyal sofa bed additionally comes in a vast array of colors, fabrics and styles, meaning that you won’t be sacrificing the aesthetic of your home by introducing an eyesore. In fact, depending on the budget, you can even buy designer models!

However, if you've ever slept on a sofa bed, you'll know that not all of them are as comfy as standard beds. They're beds that are limited by their design — often meaning thinner mattresses, or less specialist materials, that mean they don't stand up to use night after night, especially compared to a bed. However, some sofa beds can compare, if you know what to look for one that you're going to use regularly — whether it's because you need to escape a snoring partner, or you have house guests for an extended period.

What should I look for in a sofa bed for regular use?

Best Sofa Beds - Love Your Home Felix Sofa Bed

(Image credit: Love Your Home)

If you want your sofa bed to be a gift that keeps on giving, Julia Forbes, a Certified Sleep Science Coach at Sleep Advisor, recommends not neglecting good structure. ‘For regular use, I’d recommend investing in a sofa bed that has a sturdy frame and a high-quality mattress,’ says Julia. ‘Purchasing a sofa bed with a high-quality mattress will help you obtain a good night’s sleep, avoiding aches and pains – especially if you plan to sleep on it regularly.’

Look for integrated mattresses in your sofa bed, rather than a style where the couch cushions simply become your bed. A mattress may contain springs or specialist foam, along with a slatted base that's designed to cushion you for a better night's sleep, while standard couch cushions will offer a flatter base that may cause your back issues when used regularly.

In combination with a solid structure designed for longevity comes top-tier materials for comfort and cleaning. Carlie suggests two materials that can be freshened up in a flash, without the expense of looking cheap.

‘Durable materials like high-quality faux leather or microfiber fabrics are easy to clean and keep fresh, helping them to last longer than other sofa bed materials,’ says Carlie. ‘The longevity of sofa beds overall depends on what they are made of and how much an individual uses them, but if taken care of properly they typically last several years.’

How do you clean and take care of a sofa bed?

leather sofa in grey room with red carpet and wooden coffee table, industrial look

(Image credit: Andrew Martin)

To keep your sofa bed in the best condition for sleep and comfort, cleaning and adequately taking care of it is vital – you get out of it what you’re willing to put in!

‘I’d recommend vacuuming the sofa regularly and spot-cleaning for stains to keep it fresh,’ says Julia. ‘If the sofa bed has removable covers, follow the specific care instructions for it, and wash the cover frequently.’

Using a mattress topper and making sure to flip your mattress periodically to distribute weight evenly are further suggestions from Julia that could potentially increase the lifespan of your sofa bed.

Carlie goes into detail about how to clean a sofa bed made of a shiny material such as faux-leather: ‘To clean a faux-leather sofa bed, you can wipe it down with a damp cloth and mild soap. Vacuuming the sofa will also still be useful to avoid allergens and other debris from building up.’

Such a material serves as a great choice in a household with children prone to making spills or sticky messes. Add the option of removable, washable covers and you’ve got yourself a near bomb-proof piece of furniture! Maybe next time you’ll invite the grandkids.

Ciéra Cree
Contributing Writer

Ciéra is a writer and regional laureate with particular passions for art, design, philosophy and poetry. As well as contributing to Livingetc, she's a writer for Design Anthology UK. When not writing about interiors Ciéra can likely be found getting lost in a book, charity shop "treasure hunting", or getting excited about Christmas regardless of what month it is. Previous commendations of hers include being Highly Commended by The Royal Society of Literature and receiving a prestigious MA Magazine Journalism scholarship.