How to Clean Leather Upholstery

White leather couch

If you love leather furniture you will want to know how to clean leather upholstery. Leather is a popular choice for upholstery because it is beautiful, comfortable, and durable. Keeping leather upholstery clean can become a challenge, but when done successfully it will prolong the life of your furniture.

Tips on How to Clean Leather Upholstery

Keeping your leather upholstery clean and in good repair will prolong its life. Read the tags on your leather upholstery to find out if there are any specific cleaning recommendations. Set up a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule to make the job easier and avoid deep stains in the leather. The procedure for cleaning your household and vehicle leather upholstery is as follows:

  • Vacuum the entire piece of furniture, including under the cushions and in the crevices and folds.
  • Inspect the furniture for stains
  • If there is a stain follow the specific directions for that type of stain below
  • If the upholstery is just dusty, use a clean microfiber cloth to wipe it down
  • Apply a leather conditioner

Cleaning Stains From Your Upholstery

Many things can stain your leather upholstery. Watch out for these types of stain producing culprits:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Ink
  • Paint
  • Mold
  • Water
  • Grease
  • Blood
  • Urine
  • Gum

How to Remove Ink

Ink is difficult to remove from leather. The earlier you remove an ink stain the better so; this will prevent the ink from being absorbed deep into the leather. If you can't remove it with the following method, consult a professional leather cleaner. Spray the ink stain with hairspray contained in an aerosol can. Wipe it with a damp washcloth.

Urine Stains

Clean up the urine as quickly as possible by soaking it up with a dry towel. Use mild soap and a small amount of water to clean the area.


Freeze the gum with ice cubes enclosed in a plastic bag. Scrape the frozen gum off with your fingernail. If that does not work, heat up the gum with a blow dryer and rub it off with a cloth.


Blot up excess grease with a clean cloth. Cover the area with talcum powder or cornstarch for approximately four hours. Wipe the powder off with a clean cloth.


Mold is a fungus that can thrive on breaking down leather. Mold needs to be cleaned up immediately or it will become impossible to remove and will keep growing. Steps to remove mold include:

  • Take the item outside to dry in the sun-the sun can kill mold
  • Scrape the mold off with a dry brush
  • Wash the mold off with a mild soap and small amount of water
  • Dry the area completely
  • Test an inconspicuous area of the leather upholstery with rubbing alcohol to see if it does not damage the leather
  • Scrub the moldy area with rubbing alcohol
  • Dry the furniture in the sun
  • Treat the area with leather conditioner

Preventative Maintenance

If you want to keep your leather upholstery looking new and feeling great for years to come, a little bit of preventative maintenance can go a long way. Following are a few tips to keep your furniture looking great, in addition to learning how to clean leather upholstery.

  • Keep your leather furniture away from the windows with direct sunlight, or pull the drapes to keep the sun off.
  • Tint the windows of your vehicle and use a sunshade on the front dashboard.
  • Do not allow anyone to write with a pen, pencil, or ink marker near your leather furniture.
  • Don't eat or drink while sitting on your furniture.
  • Don't allow pets to climb on or be near your leather upholstered furniture.
  • Clean up any spills immediately to prevent set in stains.

Use What You've Learned

Using the right cleaning method can help your leather furniture look new longer. Now that you know how to clean leather, get some tips on cleaning faux leather.

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How to Clean Leather Upholstery