How to Clean a Leather Sofa

How to Clean a Leather Sofa

JULY 6, 2016

by Andrew Schneider Furniture Specialist

Leather furniture is a gorgeous option for your home, but it also take some knowledge and a few specific tools to keep it looking new. Whether you're facing crayon marks from children, wine spills from guests or those inevitable scuff marks from everyday use, find out how to clean a leather sofa to keep it looking great.


High-quality Vacuum

Vacuum the Sofa

Before attempting to remove any stain from your leather couch, you first need to remove any dust or debris from the surface. Use a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment to clean your sofa, and be sure to get deep into the crevices to remove any crumbs. If dust is your only issue, use a feather duster to clean the sofa's surface.

Be sure your sofa's surface is completely removes of any crumbs or dust particles before applying any cleaning solutions. Otherwise, if you rub them into the leather, they could create even deeper stains.

Leather Conditioner Cleaner

Choose a Cleaning Solution

Opt for a cleaning solution specifically made for leather, or create your own solution from a mixture of water and white vinegar. If you're purchasing commercial leather cleaner, avoid detergents, solvents, and any cleaners that contain ammonia, bleach or sodium laurel sulfates, as these can damage or dry out the leather.

Green Microfiber Cleaning Cloth

Apply Solution to the Stain

Spot test the cleaning solution on a hidden part of the sofa before applying it to a conspicuous area. If the cleaner doesn't cause damage or discoloration, apply it to the stain using a microfiber cleaning cloth. Rub lightly to avoid spreading the stain, rinsing and wringing excessive water from the cloth as you go.

If your leather sofa has any mold or mildew stains, simply fill a spray bottle with equal parts vinegar and water, spray the mixture lightly onto the area, and wipe the stain quickly so it doesn't get too wet.

Leather Cleaning Wipes

Treat Heavier Stains

If your leather sofa is plagued with more stubborn stains, you may need a different cleaning solution. Try saddle soap or a leather cleaning solution with natural beeswax as an ingredient. Avoid petroleum products that can strip your sofa of its natural oils, causing cracking or drying of the leather.

If you're still unable to remove the spot, don't continue to rub the leather; this can cause more unsightly damage than the original stain. If possible, flip the couch cushion to hide the stain, or consult with a professional cleaner for advice or service.

Multi-colored Cleaning Rags

Dry the Sofa

After you have removed the stains from your sofa, it's important to dry the material as much as possible. Prolonged wetness damaged leather. Hair dryers dehydrate the leather, so never use them on your furniture. Use a clean dish cloth or bath towel to dry any wet spots on your sofa. Open the windows in your living room, or place the sofa in a well-ventilated area to ensure the furniture dries quickly.

Leather Conditioner

Condition the Leather

After your sofa is stain-free and dry, treat it with a conditioner to preserve and protect the leather. Choose a wax-based leather conditioner for best results, rubbing into the leather with a clean cloth.

Alternately, create your own leather conditioner at home by mixing two parts linseed oil with one-part white vinegar. Apply the solution in a circular motion with a dry cloth, and allow it to sit overnight. Use a clean rag to buff the sofa the next day.