How to Clean a Leather Couch to Restore Its Glory 

Updated June 21, 2022
cleaning leather sofa couch with cloth

Leather couches look amazing in your home, but you might be confused as to how to clean them. While leather sofas take a gentle touch, you can use a few home cleaners to bring back their shine. Get a step-by-step tutorial for how to clean leather, when to clean leather, and how to deal with specific stains.

How to Clean a Leather Couch: Materials

Ever wonder what household products you can use on your leather sofa? Well, there isn't much. White vinegar and rubbing alcohol are about as tough as you want to get when it comes to deep cleaning your leather couch. Most of the time, you'll just stick to a mild detergent or leather cleaner to keep your couch looking and smelling fresh. To get started on your leather cleaning adventure, you need to grab:

Step 1: Vacuum Out the Couch

Cleaning a leather couch takes a lot of elbow grease. But before you grab your cleaners, you need to make sure all the dirt is out of the couch.

  1. Pull the cushions off the couch.
  2. Grab a vacuum with a brush attachment.
  3. Slowly suck up all the dirt off the couch and out of the little nooks and crannies.

Step 2: Pre-Treat Leather Stains

Not all leather is created equal. So, you don't want to add water to a couch that is dry clean only. Take a look at the tag on our couch to be sure it has a W on it. This means you can use mild detergent to clean up stains. However, if it has a S, P, or X, consider getting it professionally cleaned. For a leather couch with a W, you can use a mild dish soap. Soap can work well for most food, coffee, and unknown stains you find while cleaning. Remember to test an inconspicuous area of the couch with the cleaner first.

  1. Mix warm water with a few drops of mild dish soap.
  2. Agitate to create suds.
  3. Dip the cloth in the solution and wring it out well.
  4. Wipe down small random stains with circular motions.
  5. Continue until the stain is completely buffed out.
  6. For stubborn stains, mix a 1:1 ratio of white vinegar to water.
  7. Dip the corner of the cloth in the mixture.
  8. Rub the stain in circular motions.
  9. Rinse and repeat until the stain is gone.

Be sure you don't go back and forth, since this can pull on the leather.

Remove Grease Stains From Leather Sofa

Did a bit of salad dressing-soaked lettuce fall on your beautiful leather sofa? Grease, like the oil in the dressing, is a different beast than most normal food stains. So, you are going to need to pull out the baking soda to absorb it. You can also use a little bit of baking soda for those mystery stains that didn't react to your detergent method.

  1. Lay a nice layer of baking soda on the stain.
  2. Allow it to sit for 1-2 hours.
  3. Brush or vacuum it away.
  4. Use a damp cloth and buff the area with slow deliberate circles.
  5. If the stain remains, repeat the baking soda process.

Simple Ways to Remove Ink, Blue Marks, or Mold Stains From Leather Couch

Much like oil, ink and mold require a specialized clean. Now you need to grab the rubbing alcohol to get the stain out.

  1. Put rubbing alcohol on a microfiber cloth.
  2. Dab at the mold or ink.
  3. Repeat using a different area of the cloth until the stain is gone.

Remember, it's important to dab and not rub. You could spread the stain by rubbing rather than lifting it off the leather.

Simple Steps for Cleaning White Leather Stains

clean white leather couch sofa

Blood and food stains can turn your light-colored leather upholstery to an unattractive dark shade. To remove protein stains from leather, you just need a bit of lemon juice.

  1. Mix together one part cream of tartar with one part lemon juice to form a paste.
  2. Apply the paste to the stain and let it sit for about 10 minutes.
  3. Wipe the area with a clean, damp sponge and some hand soap.

How to Clean Leather Chair With Stuck-on Wax or Gum

When you find a bit of wax or gum on your leather couch, try not to panic and rub it. Instead, you need to leave it alone and grab the ice.

  1. Put a bag of ice over the gum or wax to harden it.
  2. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Use a spoon to peel the wax away gently.

Step 3: Wipe Down the Couch

Well, all your stain problem areas are removed; it's time to give the entire couch a good wipe down. All you need for this is a bit of warm water and some mild dish soap.

  1. Dip your cloth in the water mixture.
  2. Wring it out well.
  3. Wipe down all areas of the couch.
  4. If you notice your cloth getting dirty, dip it in the water and wring it out.

If you need a bit of extra cleaning power, you can add ½ cup of white vinegar to your water mixture.

Step 4: Allow the Couch to Completely Dry

Once you wipe everything down, you don't want to leave the couch wet. You can get water spots marring your cleaned couch. Here's how to dry couch cusion covers and other parts of your sofa.

  1. Use a microfiber cloth to dry everything.
  2. Buff in circular motions to bring the leather back to life.
  3. Let it sit for 10 or so minutes to make sure it's completely dry.

Step 5: Condition the Leather

It's common for leather furniture to lose its luster and get a little stiff. You can add the softness back to your sofa with a little leather conditioner.

  1. Apply a bit of conditioner to the cloth, following the package directions.
  2. Work it into the leather in circular motions.

How Often to Clean a Leather Couch

General cleaning of your leather sofa should happen once a week. Vacuum everything out and watch for stains. You'll want to give your sofa a deep cleaning once a month. Not only will you wipe everything down, but you'll condition your leather if it needs it.

Tips and Tricks for Keeping a Leather Sofa Clean

baking soda in jar

Cleaning your leather couch or chair isn't going to be hard. But you want to make sure you don't damage it. Therefore, you'll want to try out a few different tips and tricks to clean your couch.

  • Test the approved cleaners in an inconspicuous area before using them. Not all leather furniture is the same.
  • Make sure to clean up any spills immediately. Use the method for cleaning up spills.
  • Avoid using abrasive cleaners on leather.
  • Contact a professional leather cleaner for hard-to-clean stains.
  • Buff scratches with a chamois cloth.
  • Apply baking soda immediately to oil stains.
  • Use a leather conditioner after cleaning up stains.

How to Clean a Leather Sofa

Leather is durable, functional, and fashionable, which is why many homeowners are attracted to leather furniture. The downside to stuffing your home with leather goods is that they can be tricky to clean. Keeping your leather furniture looking as luxurious as it did on the day you bought it is possible by following a few tips. Now that you know how to clean leather, get tips on cleaning Faux leather furniture and clothing.

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