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Leather Furniture Cleaner – Keep Your Leather Safe and Clean

Not all leathers are the same, just as all leather furniture cleaners are not the same.  What should you use for cleaning, disinfecting, and moisturizing leather furniture without risking damage?  I will discuss what to consider when your leather furniture needs cleaning.

Leather furniture cleaner removes dirt, stains, and debris from leather upholstery. The solution can vary from household products like water and white vinegar to commercially made leather cleaner and will differ based on the type of leather being cleaned. 

Are you considering a leather couch but not sure the best way to keep it clean?  What are the best leather furniture cleaners, anyways?

What is Leather Furniture Cleaner?

Leather furniture cleaner is a solution used to clean and moisturize leather upholstery.  It’s also used to loosen dirt, remove stains, and clean debris from leather upholstery and other items. 

Leather furniture cleaner can vary in composition from water and white vinegar to commercially-made leather cleaner.  Some of the best homemade leather furniture cleaners are water with mild soap, diluted white vinegar, and rubbing alcohol.

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Cleaning Supplies

When to Use Leather Furniture Cleaner

So when should you use leather furniture cleaner?  There are two different kinds of cleaning that any leather furniture needs: routine cleaning and deep cleaning.

Routine cleaning removes light dust and debris, the kind we leave behind daily.  Always start with vacuuming or dusting to remove small and large particles.  Then use a leather furniture cleaner to remove any surface stains or localized spots of grime or oil left behind from daily use.

Deep cleaning of leather furniture requires a little bit more time.  Start with vacuuming or dusting for particles.  Then clean with your chosen leather furniture cleaner, removing spots, stains, and oil that may have been present for a while.  Allow the leather to dry thoroughly, then apply a leather conditioner to moisturize and protect.

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The right cleaner will not damage or change the color of the leather, so knowing what type of leather you have makes a difference.

What to Consider When Selecting a Leather Furniture Cleaner

Selecting a leather furniture cleaner goes well beyond grabbing any bottle on the shelf labeled “leather cleaner.”  When choosing a leather cleaner, it’s important to know what type of leather you’re working with and if there’s any coating on the leather itself.  Let’s consider why it’s imperative to consider these things when selecting a leather furniture cleaner.

Type of Leather

The leather you’re working with greatly affects what type of leather furniture cleaner you should use.  The right cleaner will not damage or change the color of the leather, so knowing what type of leather you have makes a difference.

Various Types of Leathers - Leather Furniture Cleaner - Liberty Leather Goods
Various Types of Leathers

Natural Leather

Natural leather requires a gentle cleaner with just the right balanced pH.  The appropriate cleaner for natural leather will remove dirt without damaging fibers.  Natural leather also includes specialized leathers like nubuck and suede, which also need special cleaners.  Read labels carefully and clean and condition regularly for the best care.

Faux Leather

Faux leather is made differently from natural leather and usually needs a different cleaner.  Alternative materials may get close to natural leather, but their structure is less stable and have different properties, which require different products, according to researchers Meyer, Dietrich, Schulz, and Mondschein of FILK Freiberg Institute

Gentle cleaners like soapy water and a chamois or microfiber cloth usually work well.  It can be tricky with faux leather, so test first and never use bleach.  Think of it like your skin — if you wouldn’t put a product on your skin, you shouldn’t put it on faux leather.

When choosing a leather cleaner, it’s important to know what type of leather you’re working with and if there’s any coating on the leather itself.

Presence of Any Surface Coating on the Leather 

Leather is treated with tannins to help stabilize and retain structure so it’s durable.  These chemical agents can react with leather cleaners and conditioners, which is why gentle products must be used. 

Some leather furniture is treated with nanocomposites to maintain some level of antimicrobial properties, according to researchers Alexe, et al. of the INCDTP-Division Leather and Footwear Research Institute.  Using the right products maintains surface coatings for a comfortable and beautiful leather furniture piece.

What Household Products Can You Use to Clean Leather?

Cleaning a Leather Couch With Dove Soap

Because it has a mild pH, Dove soap is approved for cleaning a leather couch.  It is gentle and effective, just use some water and don’t dampen the couch.  Condition the leather once dried.

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Cleaning a Leather Couch - Leather Furniture Cleaner - Liberty Leather Goods
Cleaning a Leather Couch

Cleaning Leather With Vinegar

Use vinegar with caution when cleaning leather and always dilute.  It’s great for removing stains and odors, but it can dry out leather and potentially leave a stain.  The same goes for apple cider vinegar.

Can You Use Baby Wipes to Clean a Leather Sofa?

Baby wipes can be used to clean a leather sofa, depending on what type of surface coating.  Even baby wipes can break down surface coatings over time.

Can I Use Murphy’s Oil Soap to Clean Leather?

Murphy’s Oil soap is not usually recommended to clean leather.  The chemicals are considered too harsh for leather products, even if diluted in water.  It’s also known to leave residues on leather.

Does Vinegar Ruin Leather?

Vinegar does have the potential to stain leather, so it should be used with caution.  Dilute vinegar in water and test an inconspicuous spot before trying to remove stains or odors from leather.

Can I Use Clorox Wipes on a Leather Couch?

Clorox wipes contain isopropyl alcohol and alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride, which are damaging to leather furniture.  Clorox wipes dry out leather, which leads to cracking of leather.

Can I Use Washing Up Liquid to Clean My Leather Sofa?

Washing up liquid is effective for cleaning up small stains and spills on a leather sofa.  Dissolved in water, it just takes a soft cloth to dab the spot.  Don’t use too much water, and wipe it off after a few minutes.

Can You Put Baby Oil on a Leather Sofa?

Baby oil can be used on a leather sofa to condition.  A few drops on a lint-free cloth can revive old leather; just wipe off excess baby oil to prevent buildup.

 Is Dawn OK for Leather?

Dawn dish soap may be good for grime, but it’s usually not good for leather because the pH is too high.  It’s ok to use occasionally, like when there’s a grime buildup, but not regularly.

Best Leather Furniture Cleaners and Conditioners  

Here are the five best leather furniture cleaners and conditioners based on user feedback and research.  With any of these products, be sure to test them in an inconspicuous area to ensure they won’t damage the color or finish of the leather.

  1. Lexol – is a leather cleaner and conditioner brand that’s been around since 1933.  Their leather cleaners and conditioners are priced extremely reasonably, and they even offer complete leather care kits.  Their products may not smell very good, but their effectiveness on leather items is flawless.
  2. Leather Honey – is family-owned and made in the USA since 1968.  Their leather cleaners and conditioners are effective on dirt and stains, leaving leather soft and beautiful. 
  3. Carfidant – creates one of the best leather cleaners in their Ultimate leather cleaner.  It’s highly effective at removing stains, dirt, and grime without much effort at all.  Best results are seen when followed up with their leather conditioner for healthy, soft leather.
  4. 3D – is an excellent conditioner for vinyl, plastic, and leather.  It’s great for leather interiors, even faux leather, and leaves no residue. 
  5. Chemical Guys – has created an all-in-one product that cleans and conditions leather.  No fuss, no extra steps, and this product will leave leather furniture looking and smelling great.  Their product can even be diluted if you need a more gentle product.

Check out this helpful video to learn more about the proper maintenance, cleaning, and care for quality leather furniture.

Related Insights

What is the best product to clean a leather couch?

The best product to clean a leather couch is homemade with one part water to one part white vinegar.  Dampen a clean cloth with the solution and gently wipe the surface of the leather couch to clean.  Avoid getting the leather too damp.

How do you disinfect leather?

Leather can be disinfected with dish soap and a couple of tablespoons in a cup of warm water.  This is the gentlest and most effective way to disinfect leather furniture.

What soap is safe for leather?

Dish soap is gentle and safe for leather furniture.  Just a couple of tablespoons in water can clean leather safely, just don’t dampen the leather too much.

How do you clean and nourish leather furniture?

Clean and nourish leather furniture with the right leather furniture cleaners and conditioners.  Use gentle products regularly, and your leather furniture will stay beautiful and comfortable.

Popular Leather Furniture Cleaner

I asked friends and family what they use to clean and condition their leather furniture pieces.  Here is a table representing the percentages of their responses and what I learned from the poll about what people use for leather furniture cleaner.

Leather Furniture CleanerTimes Selected
Soap and water15%
Leather cleaning wipes23%
Lexol cleaning products15%
Store brand cleaner8%
Leather Honey8%
People who don’t clean their leather furniture31%
Popular Leather Furniture Cleaner

Final Thoughts 

Various leather furniture cleaners are available; many at highly effective and affordably priced.  Some of the products you already have in your home can be good for stains and spot cleaning.  Knowing what type of leather furniture you have and what’s in the cleaner is important to keep your leather looking great and feeling wonderful.  

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