How to Clean a Leather Couch

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Ember + Ivory/Unsplash

A leather couch is a versatile addition to almost any living room, not to mention few upholstery materials can rival the comfort of soft, leather cushions. If you own leather furniture, then you already know that it isn’t the easiest material to maintain. In order to keep the texture and color intact, you have to avoid excess moisture and forgo harsh cleaning products—bleach and ammonia-based products are especially harmful. With that in mind, what’s the best way to keep that leather surface clean?

If you’re reading this article because you’ve just spilled something on that delicate leather upholstery and are frantically seeking an ideal solution, stop what you’re doing and grab some towels or paper towels. The first step is to blot up as much of the liquid as you can. This will prevent stains from setting and make the cleanup process much easier. Remember to carefully blot—and never wipe—the liquid. If the surface is already dry, or if you need general leather-cleaning tips, read on to discover how to clean your leather couch.

Supplies for Maintenance

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A vacuum cleaner with soft brush attachment
  • A microfiber cloth
  • Soft cloths
  • Mild soap
  • White vinegar (for tough stains)

Grab the Vacuum

The first step is to vacuum the cushions and couch surface. A hand vacuum will do the trick, but the best method is to use a standard vacuum cleaner with a soft-bristled brush attachment. Make sure to vacuum the cushions and pillows from all sides, and don’t neglect the arms, skirts, and other areas. Once you have finished vacuuming, wipe down the surface with a clean, dry microfiber cloth.

Check the Care Instructions

Next, locate the tag to determine the manufacturer’s specific cleaning recommendations. Sofas can be made from different types of leather, so certain kinds have specific requirements. Manufacturer recommendations should take precedence over any general cleaning tips, so pay careful attention to any guidelines. If no recommendations are provided, use a mild soap to complete the cleaning process.

Add Soap

Add your soap conservatively to a damp (not wet or dripping), soft cloth. The best approach is to dampen the cloth and then brush it across a bar of soap once or twice. If you must use mild liquid soap, add just a dab to your cloth. First, test it on an inconspicuous spot and let it dry, ensuring that no damage or discoloration occurs. If the color changes, try a different soap or skip the soap entirely and just use a damp cloth. If everything looks good after your spot test, gently wipe down the entire surface of the couch with your cloth.

What About Tough Stains?

If you have a tough stain that remains intact despite your best efforts, try mixing equal parts water and white vinegar. Dampen a cloth with this solution and then scrub the stain in circular motions. A commercial leather cleaner might also do the trick—you should only need a few drops of the leather cleaner mixed into a cup of water to create an ideal solution. Use a dry cloth to gently remove the excess moisture from the couch.

Want to enhance the look of your leather couch even further? Try adding some chic leather pillows.

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