Leather products are well worth the investment when we take care of them. In fact, some leather couches and sofas can last generations when you protect them. But it’s not uncommon for leather to get ruined. Not even due to spills and food (though that can happen) but from improper cleaning. Many of us don’t know the right way to clean leather.
That’s why we have come up with the ultimate guide to cleaning and protecting a leather couch and sofa. Let’s get started!
What is the best way to clean a leather couch?
The best way to maintain your leather couch and sofa is to do a great job cleaning it. The less we have to clean it, the more likely it is to stay in great condition. Before we get started on how to clean a leather couch, let’s talk about the things you should do to extend the lifetime of your leather sofa.
General Tips and Maintenance
- Do not leave your leather sofa and couch in direct sunlight from windows. Either use shades or blinds or a couch blanket to protect the leather from fading.
- Keeping your leather away from heat is also important. If it is too close to a hot appliance or warm coffee is resting on it, you could damage the materials. This is especially true if you spill warm or hot drinks on the furniture. If the leather feels warm to the hand, then reposition it.
- Leather products and materials are not scratch resistant. Anything sharp can create scratch marks. This includes jewelry such as earrings or even bracelets. Scratches are often irreversible damage.
- Last but not least, leather can’t be cleaned with just any product. Some cleaning products will cause permanent damage to a leather couch. That’s why it’s key to follow the instructions below.
How to Clean a Soft Leather Couch
If you want to know how to clean a leather couch or sofa, it’s worth knowing the different types of leather you could be dealing with. There are many types, but here are the most common options.
Often considered to be the highest quality of leather. This particular type has a tough and durable grain layer which makes it a high-quality and durable choice.
Top grain is a very popular choice for couches because it deals slightly better with any kind of staining. You’ll find this type of leather in family homes.
Split grain is a more affordable choice, but when you pay a cheaper ticket price, then you are forgoing a lot of the quality that normally comes with leather.
This is recycled leather which makes it still real leather but a great marketing ploy. Straight to the point, it is much lower quality than most options.
Some leathers have a soft buttery feel to them that often can be mistaken for suede. This is Nubuck leather. It’s beautiful but harder to take care of.
This leather is as cheap as bonded leather. It’s often the type we see sold in belts at department stores. It’s leftover cowhide and is typically spray-painted to fit the color they need. It’s not very durable.
As the title suggests, it is a man-made option that does not come from animals at all.
So, can we treat all of these leathers the same way? No, but there are some general cleaning methods that work well for most leathers. Let’s take a look at it.
Best Practices For Cleaning a Leather Couch
This is the most basic and trusted way to clean all types of leather couches and sofas. A natural solution is the best leather cleaner for sofas, so you don’t risk ruining it.
What You Need
White distilled vinegar
- A clean microfiber cloth
- A medium mixing bowl
- First, you want to combine water (not warm) with equal parts of white distilled vinegar.
- Take a clean microfiber cloth and put it in the solution. Wring it out so that it’s not dripping.
- Clean the sofa in circular motions wiping away any debris and dirt. Continually wring out your cloth so that it gets up dirt and doesn’t reapply it to the surface of the leather couch.
- You may need to change out your microfiber cloth and the water.
Tip: If you want to know the best way to clean your microfiber cloths, then click here!
How to Clean a White Leather Couch
Now, not all couches are the same because a white leather couch may collect much more visible dust, dirt, and debris than other darker colors. While you can do a simple wipe-down like mentioned above, it’s not a bad idea to approach it slightly differently. Just like you wouldn’t clean your black suede vans the same as your white ones.
Here is a method we love to use for a clean and fresh look.
What You Need
- Olive Oil
- Distilled White Vinegar
- Liquid Castile Soap (leather soap works too)
- Microfiber Cloth
- Lukewarm Water
- Spray Bottle
- First, you need to mix your solution together. Pour the ingredients directly into a spray bottle. This creates a leather sofa cleaner spray
- Pour one part castile soap to eight parts lukewarm water.
- Then pour in two parts distilled white vinegar to one part olive oil.
- Before spraying the solution onto the couch, it is a good idea to wipe down the couch with a dampened microfiber cloth to get the initial dust and dirt up from the couch.
- Now, you can lightly spray a clean microfiber cloth with the solution and start cleaning the leather. It’s better to spray onto the cloth than on the couch because you don’t want the leather to get too wet. This leaves unwanted watermarks.
- Gently wash the leather couch in circular motions. Scrubbing can damage the leather.
- Then, take a dry microfiber cloth to just buff the leather. You don’t need to remove the cleaning solution as you shouldn’t have used too much.
How to condition leather couch naturally
After doing a deep clean for a leather sofa, you should give your couch a great condition. When you moisturize the leather, it helps prevent cracking and dryness. The process is easy, and we can show you how to do it!
What You Need
- Baby soap
- Distilled White Vinegar
- Lukewarm water
- Medium mixing bowl
- Microfiber cloth
- First, mix together just one tablespoon of baby soap with two cups of lukewarm water in a medium bowl. Then add a pinch of vinegar.
- Dampen the microfiber cloth and wring it out.
- Spread evenly throughout the leather couch but make sure not to get any spots wet.
- Rub in circular motions to get the moisturizes deep into the leather and let sit.
- Then, take a dry cloth and buff it out. No need to rinse the conditioner off.
This is also a great way on how to polish a leather couch. If you are wondering how often you should condition a leather couch then you have come to the right place. It’s recommended that you do this every six to twelve months. This is the best way to protect your leather couch and keep it in great condition.
Tip: If you want to learn how to clean area rugs just as professionally as you are with your leather couch, click here.
Best Leather Cleaners
Where to Buy
White Distilled vinegar +Castile Soap + Olive Oil
Any grocery store or pharmacy
Leather Honey Leather Cleaner
Armor All Leather Cleaner
Lexol Leather Cleaner
Frequently Asked Questions
The instructions above often lead people to ask some common questions. Here are the most frequently asked questions that come up with cleaning your leather couch.
Can I Clean My Leather Couch With Soap and Water?
While we mentioned that you can use castile soap or leather soap, some people ask about cleaning the leather couch with dove soap. The answer to this question has a lot of mixed results. Ultimately, we wouldn’t recommend it because soap residue can cause damage to the leather. When soap residue remains, it can dry and then cause cracking and dryness to the leather itself.
What About Cleaning Leather Sofa with Baby Wipes?
No! Simply no, you can’t use baby wipes or any kind of disinfectant wipes to clean a leather sofa or couch. The reason behind it, these products contain alkaline and can damage leather. If you want to know how to disinfect a leather couch, follow the list of products we listed above. The more natural the products are, the less likely you are to cause any damage. Even if you are dealing with a stain that is as tricky as getting blood out of clothes or cleaning nail polish, use products as natural as possible.
What is the best way to ensure I clean my leather couch properly?
Before you start, it is always recommended to read the manufacturer’s warranty and manual. This way, if you do have a warranty, you don’t void it by ruining the sofa yourself. Expensive leather couches should, in fact, come with at least one year warranty with several exceptions. And as a rule of thumb, the fewer products you use, the better chances you have at keeping it healthy and free of damage.