Leather sofas add a touch of elegance to your home décor. Cleaning and maintaining these luxurious sofas, however, is a tricky task as you cannot just wipe them down with a wet cloth.

Moreover, harsh cleaners can easily ruin your expensive sofa. Even bleach and ammonia-based cleaners should be avoided. Although leather is a durable material, it is porous.

Thus, you can either make a gentle yet effective cleaner at home or use a leather cleaner recommended by your sofa manufacturer. It is usually suggested to clean leather furniture every three months, or at least twice a year.


How to Clean a Leather Sofa

Steps for Cleaning

  1. Vacuum clean the sofa with a soft brush attachment. Make sure it sucks the dirt out of all the crevices; otherwise, the dust and grime could be rubbed into the couch when you wipe it with the cleaning solution.
    leather sofa 1
    Dust particles are abrasive. Hence, they can damage the material when they come in contact with moisture.
  2. Create a cleaning solution by mixing equal parts of water and white vinegar. Alternatively, you can combine a few drops of commercial leather cleaner in water.
    leather sofa cleaning 2
  3. Dip a soft cloth (preferably a microfiber cloth) in this solution and wring it out so that the cloth is damp, not completely wet.
    leather sofa cleaning 3
  4. Wipe the entire sofa with this cloth while rinsing the cloth in the cleaning solution when necessary. It is best to start cleaning from the top and work your way down.
    leather sofa cleaning 4
  5. Dry the sofa with a clean towel. Do not use a blow dryer for this purpose as it is likely to dehydrate the leather.
    leather sofa cleaning 5
  6. For conditioning, mix one part of white vinegar and two parts of linseed oil or flaxseed oil. Using a soft, clean cloth, apply this mixture on the sofa in broad, circular motions. Leave on overnight.
    leather sofa c6
  7. Next day, buff the sofa with a clean rag to restore its shine.
    leather sofa cleaning 7

Apart from the vinegar solution, you can clean your leather sofa with a moisturizing soap (such as Dove) and water (bring it to lather and then wipe). Test the cleaning solution on an inconspicuous spot before using it on the entire sofa.

Some even suggest cleaning leather furniture with saddle soap. On the downside, it is believed that repeated use of saddle soap tends to dissolve leather over a period of time.

How to Clean Stains on a Leather Sofa

  • To remove mold and mildew, clean the affected area with a combination of equal parts of water and rubbing alcohol.
  • Permanent marker stains can be removed by spraying an aerosol hairspray on the stains. If your little one has scribbled something on the sofa with a ballpoint pen, then try rubbing it off with eucalyptus oil. Rubbing alcohol, too, can be used to clean ink stains. You need to dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and rub it on the stain.
  • Non-acetone nail polish removers, baby wipes, and even toothpaste (white toothpaste, not gel) can also help you get rid of stains from your leather sofa. Make sure you test the option you choose, on a hidden area to ensure that it does not fade the color. If you want a safer option, use leather wipes or foam leather cleaners. Leather wipes, however, are likely to leave a residue on your leather furniture.
  • For dark-colored stains on a light-colored leather couch, rub the stains with a paste of one part each of lemon juice and cream of tartar. Leave on for about 10 minutes. Again take a small amount of this paste and rub it on the affected area. Finally, wipe it off with a damp sponge.
  • To get rid of grease stains, sprinkle some baking soda on the affected area and dust it off after a few hours. Baking soda will absorb the oil and leave your sofa clean.

Additional Tips

  • For regular weekly cleaning, you can wipe the sofa with a dry cloth or dust it off with a feather duster. If it is used heavily then you may consider cleaning the sofa with a vacuum cleaner. Plus, turn and fluff the cushions regularly to avoid wrinkles on them.
  • Do not expose your leather sofa to sunlight; it can age and dry the leather, thereby leading to discoloration and cracking. Keep it at least two feet away from sources of heat, including air conditioning sources and heating vents.
  • Attend to any spills (even water spills) on the sofa immediately, or else the fluid will penetrate the dye and leave spots. So, blot the fluid as soon as possible. Do not wipe it, though; it may spread the liquid and stain the surrounding area too.
  • Prefer to get stubborn spots and stains cleaned by a professional cleaner rather than ruining the material with experimental methods.