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How To Clean a Leather Couch or Sofa With Proper Care

Leather couches and sofas are a comfortable and stylish addition to any home, but regular care and maintenance are best to keep them looking and feeling their best. In this article, I will discuss how to clean a leather couch or sofa with proper care to prevent damage, remove stains, and maintain the material for a luxurious feel for many years to come.

How to clean a leather couch or sofa with proper care involves using a leather cleaner or pH-neutral soap and water to remove dirt, stains, and odors. Allow the leather to air dry completely, and apply a leather conditioner to keep the couch looking great and feeling comfortable.

Leather couches are soft and comfortable, but did you know they need regular cleaning to keep them soft and prevent smells? Do you need to clean your leather couch but aren’t sure what the proper care is? Let’s explore how to properly clean a leather sofa.

What Is Cleaning a Leather Couch?

Cleaning a leather couch is the process of removing dirt, stains, and odors from the surface and pores of the leather material. It involves using appropriate products and methods to avoid damaging the leather or causing any discoloration. Regularly cleaning a leather couch can help maintain its appearance, durability, and comfort.

What We’ll Explore

  • Clearing up Myths & Misconceptions
  • Reasons You Might Choose To Clean a Leather Couch
  • Variations or Styles of How To Clean a Leather Couch
  • How To Clean a Leather Couch Overview Table
  • Skill Level of How To Clean a Leather Couch
  • Tools and Supplies Needed To Clean a Leather Couch
  • Leather Couch Cleaner
  • How To Clean a Leather Couch Step by Step
  • Clean a Leather Couch Stain
  • How To Clean White Leather Sofa
  • How To Clean a Faux Leather Couch
  • How To Deodorize a Leather Couch
  • How to Get Better at Cleaning a Leather Couch
  • My Personal Research on How To Clean a Leather Couch
  • Helpful Insights on How To Clean a Leather Couch
  • Key Takeaways
Cleaning a Brown Leather Couch With a Microfiber Cloth - How To Clean a Leather Couch or Sofa - Liberty Leather Goods
Cleaning a Brown Leather Couch With a Microfiber Cloth

Clearing Up Myths & Misconceptions

One might think that cleaning a leather couch is risky or difficult; however, this is not true if simple leather care guidelines are followed. Some people think harsh chemicals or abrasive tools must be used to clean a leather couch. 

This is also not true because all that is needed is a leather cleaner or pH-neutral soap and water with a soft cloth. It has even been believed that all leather couches will crack and fade with time, but with proper care and cleaning, this does not always happen.

Reasons You Might Choose To Clean a Leather Couch

A leather couch is a luxurious addition to any home, providing a place for sitting comfortably. Over time, a leather couch can accumulate dirt, dust, oil, and bacteria that lead to a dingy appearance and strange smells. This dirt and oil can also lead to leather cracking and peeling.

 Cleaning a leather couch removes this dirt, oil, and bacteria to keep the leather looking and smelling great. A clean leather couch enhances the style and feel of the living room while reducing odors, germs, and allergens. Cleaning a leather couch also makes it smoother and softer to the touch.

Leather couches can be cleaned with pH-neutral soap and water or leather cleaner.

Variations or Styles of How To Clean a Leather Couch

Not all leather couches are made the same, nor are dirt and stains. Thankfully there are different ways to clean a leather couch depending on the type of leather and the type of dirt and stains to be removed. Here are the most common variations of how to clean a leather couch:

  1. Dry dusting with a soft brush
  2. Leather cleaner
  3. PH-neutral soap and water

How To Clean a Leather Couch Overview Table

Area of PreparationDetails
TechniqueHow To Clean a Leather Couch
Overall Level of Skill (1–5)2
Time to Complete (minutes/hours)30–60 minutes
Workspace NeededStable surface for cleaning supplies, leather couch or sofa
Skills NeededBasic leather care
Tools and Supplies NeededLeather cleaner or pH-neutral soap and water, bowl, microfiber towels or old t-shirts, leather conditioner
Key Helpful TipAvoid getting the leather couch too wet — test products in an inconspicuous area.
How To Clean a Leather Couch or Sofa Characteristics

Skill Level of How To Clean a Leather Couch

Cleaning a leather couch does not take a great deal of skill, but it does take special care. Leather cannot get too wet, and some products should be used carefully on leather to prevent damage. Test products for cleaning in an inconspicuous area to check for colorfastness or staining. Use water sparingly and follow all manufacturer’s instructions for commercial cleaners used on leather.

Tools and Supplies Needed To Clean a Leather Couch

Cleaning a leather couch with the proper supplies can help remove dust, dirt, and stains from the couch’s surface and ultimately restore the moisture and shine of the leather. Always read the label and follow the directions carefully before use. To clean a leather couch with proper care, one needs to collect the right tools and supplies, including:

  1. A vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment
  2. Leather couch cleaner (found in spray bottles, wipes, or creams)
  3. PH-neutral soap
  4. Water
  5. Microfiber towels or old t-shirts
  6. Leather Conditioner

Leather Couch Cleaner

Leather couches require regular maintenance and care to keep them looking and feeling great, and one of the necessary products is a good leather couch cleaner. This product, specially formulated for leather, removes dirt, stains, and odors while preventing damage and discoloration. 

There are many different types of leather couch cleaners available for purchase, and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use for the best outcome. Be sure to use the proper cleaners for specialty leathers like nubuck and suede, and test all new products in an inconspicuous area to check for colorfastness and discoloration. 

To maintain durability and comfort for many years, regularly using a leather couch cleaner can prevent:

  1. Stains
  2. Odors
  3. Cracks
  4. Other unsightly damage

How To Clean a Leather Couch Step by Step

Once all tools and supplies have been gathered, it is time to clean! Here is how to clean a leather couch step by step:

  1. Vacuum to remove dirt and debris.
  2. Mix a tablespoon of pH-neutral soap in warm water and mix to create suds, or use leather cleaner.
  3. Use a microfiber towel or old t-shirt to gently rub the leather couch with soapy water or leather cleaner. Work in small sections.
  4. Use a clean, damp microfiber towel to wipe off any excess soap.
  5. Use a clean, dry microfiber towel to buff the couch dry.
  6. Allow the leather couch to dry completely.
  7. Apply leather conditioner.
  8. Enjoy the clean leather couch! 

Watch a helpful video from Saddleback Leather as they demonstrate how to clean a leather couch like a professional.

Clean a Leather Couch Stain

Leather may be resistant to water and frequent use, but stains can still occur. The way to clean a leather couch stain will vary depending on the type of stain, and some stains can be removed with regular washing. Here is a general guide on how to clean a leather couch stain:

  1. Water stains can be removed with leather cleaner, distilled water, or pH-neutral soap and water. 
  2. Grease and oil stains can be removed with leather cleaner. 
  3. Ink stains can be removed with rubbing alcohol.
  4. Dark stains on light-colored leather can be removed with leather cleaner.

How To Clean White Leather Sofa

Light-colored and white leather sofas can show dirt and stains very easily compared to dark leather, so it is important to clean them regularly with proper cleansers to keep them bright. Cleaning a white leather sofa can be accomplished in a few easy steps:

  1. Vacuum a white leather sofa regularly to remove dirt and dust. 
  2. Use a damp microfiber towel or old t-shirt to wipe it down regularly to remove surface marks or stains. 
  3. Use leather cleaners and stain removers that are specially formulated for light-colored or white leather sofas. Avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach on a white leather sofa, as these will damage the leather and cause discoloration. 
  4. Apply a leather conditioner or a protectant to protect a white leather sofa from future stains and color changes.

How To Clean a Faux Leather Couch

Faux leather couches are budget friendly and durable, but they also need proper cleaning and care to keep them in good shape. Always test products in an inconspicuous area and follow these steps:

  1. Vacuum – Start by vacuuming to remove dust, dirt, crumbs, and pet hair. 
  2. Clean – Wipe the faux leather couch down with a damp microfiber towel or old t-shirt or use a pH-neutral soap in water to remove dirt and stains. A leather cleaner may also be used, but avoid acetone, alcohol, or oil-based products to prevent cracking and surface damage. 
  3. Remove stains – Gently rub any stains with a soft cloth with the cleanser.
  4. Dry – Allow the faux leather couch to dry completely.
  5. Condition – Apply leather conditioner once completely dried. 

How To Deodorize a Leather Couch

As a frequently used item and a semi-porous material, leather couches can absorb spills, sweat, smoke damage, and other unpleasantries and develop an odor. There are three methods for how to deodorize a leather couch:

  1. With time, most odors will fade out eventually, although it may take months. Warm or humid days may make it smell stronger again, but if the source has been removed, it will fade away.
  2. Use a leather deodorizer made for leather furniture. These come in wipes or spray bottles, and always follow directions for use.
  3. Some professional leather companies may have an ozone chamber that will deodorize a leather couch.

How To Get Better at How To Clean a Leather Couch

Leather couches are made to be durable and last for 20–30 years, and that provides many opportunities for spills and stains to occur. To get better at cleaning a leather couch, simply provide regular cleaning and maintenance and clean up spills as they occur. 

Try different methods for cleaning, from homemade to commercially made, and learn what works well and what doesn’t. Always test products in an inconspicuous spot and avoid getting leather too wet to prevent water stains. 

Also, get to know the type of leather and how the leather was tanned and finished because, according to researchers Covington and Wise, these chemicals can react with agents used to clean leather and affect the color and appearance of a leather couch. Keep in mind that practice makes perfect!

My Personal Research on How To Clean a Leather Couch

Many different types of leather couches and leather cleaners are available, but what is everybody using? To learn, I performed an online poll to see what people use to clean their leather couches. Here is a table representing the percentages of their responses and what I learned from the poll.

Couch Cleaning MethodTimes Selected
Leather cleaner28%
Dish soap and water20%
Baby shampoo and water8%
Clothes detergent and water12%
Diluted white vinegar8%
Leather wipes12%
Hot water8%
Clothes steamer4%
Methods for How To Clean a Leather Couch or Sofa

Helpful Insights On How To Clean a Leather Couch

What is the best way to clean a leather sofa?

The best way to clean a leather sofa is with a leather cleaner or pH-neutral soap and water. Start with vacuuming to remove dirt, dust, and crumbs, then use a microfiber towel or old t-shirt to gently rub the leather with the leather cleaner or pH-neutral soap and water. Allow it to air dry completely, and apply leather conditioner.

Is it OK to clean a leather sofa with water?

Yes, it is OK to clean a leather sofa with water in moderation. Dampen a microfiber towel or old t-shirt and gently rub the leather sofa to remove stains and dirt, but don’t get the leather too wet to prevent water stains. Allow it to air dry completely before applying the leather conditioner.

Can I clean my leather sofa with baby wipes?

Baby wipes are not recommended to clean a leather sofa because they can lead to cracking and peeling. The better way to clean a leather sofa is with leather cleaner or pH-neutral soap and water. Baby wipes are OK to blot up a fresh stain or spill but not for regularly cleaning a leather sofa.

What liquid to use to clean a leather sofa?

There are a few liquids that are suitable for cleaning a leather sofa. The first is water and pH-neutral soap; just a few drops in a bowl will suffice. There are also liquid leather cleaners specially formulated for cleaning leather sofas.

Can you clean a leather sofa with baby shampoo?

While baby shampoo is often recommended for cleanin a leather sofa, it can cause damage to the material over times and generally should not be used to clean a leather couch. Baby shampoo has a pH level of about seven, whereas leather is about 4.5–5. Any cleaner that doesn’t match leather’s pH can cause damage overtime including, stretch, wrinkles, tears, and cracks.

Can you use rubbing alcohol to clean a leather couch?

Rubbing alcohol can be used to clean a leather couch but with great care. It can be used to disinfect and remove stains from leather, including coffee, ink, and grease. Use a cotton ball or soft cloth to gently dab a small amount of rubbing alcohol on stains and dirt, but do not rub. Wipe off with a clean cloth and apply a leather conditioner to prevent drying out and cracking.

Key Takeaways

  1. Leather couches can be cleaned with pH-neutral soap and water or a proper  leather cleaner.
  2. Avoid using too much water when cleaning a leather couch to prevent water stains and damage.
  3. Always test new leather cleaning products in an inconspicuous spot to check for colorfastness and staining.

In Closing

There are several methods for how to clean a leather couch, and as long as it is kept clean, it can continue to look and feel great. From leather cleaner to pH-neutral soap and water, there’s the right type of cleaner suitable for every type of leather sofa. Always remember to follow instructions and test in an inconspicuous spot, and that leather couch will last many years.

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