How to Clean a Leather Sofa


Leather sofas are a timeless choice for your home and they can last a lifetime if given the right care and attention. These sturdy furniture pieces are great for messy houses where spills are a regular occurrence, they can be easily maintained and repaired; however, to keep your leather sofa looking shiny and new, you need to put in a little extra effort.

There is something so beautifully classic about leather. It is a material which is soft, sumptuous, and stylish, suited to any home whether it be contemporary or traditional. To preserve the vintage charm of your beloved leather sofa, just follow these simple steps to keep it looking clean and fresh.

General Step-by-Step Clean:

1. Dig out the Dirt

First things first, have a dig around. You would be amazed at all the lost earrings, loose change, and sweets wrappers that you will find hiding down the sides of your sofa. When a piece of furniture is truly loved, it is inevitable that we take it for granted. To make sure that your sofa is ready for cleaning, pull out any bits and bobs from the gaps and cracks.

2. Vacuum

Secondly, you want to whip out the hoover and remove any dirt or crumbs that are scattered across the leather; this is to ensure that they are not rubbed into the sofa surface when cleaning. Hard pieces of dirt can also lead to scratches which are harder to remove. You may want to use a vacuum brush to guarantee that all the dirt is removed, but make sure it is a soft brush as you don’t want to leave scratches.

3. Check LabelsWashing-label-leather-sofa

Before you begin the cleaning process, check the labels! The labels that are on your leather sofa will tell you what cleaning detergents you can and cannot use. For reference: S or P means that the sofa can only be cleaned with solvents, WS or SW means that you should use a solvent cleaner or water based detergent, and X means you need to call in a professional! If you don’t read the label and begin cleaning, you could end up doing more harm than good.

4. Mix and Test

leather-sofa-soapChoosing the right soap for your sofa is of the utmost importance; when it comes to leather, you want to choose something that is very gentle and non-abrasive. Using a PH-balanced soap like Gallinée is vital, as you want the solution to be soft and tender. Soap designed for leathers like Saddle soap is the perfect choice for cleaning your sofa. Once you have found the best soap, mix it in a bowl of warm water to dilute it further. Next, you need to douse a microfibre cloth into the solution, so that it is damp and ready to clean. Wring out the the cloth to make sure that it isn’t too wet, as this could lead to water damage and watermarks on the sofa. With the moistened cloth, rub a small patch of the sofa and leave to dry; make sure that the soap hasn’t caused any marks or stains before you continue cleaning the rest of the sofa.


5. Clean and Condition 

After you have done your test patch, you can move onto the main event! Use the dampened microfibre cloth the delicately continue your cleaning of the sofa. Be sure to clean the corners and edges of the sofa which are often forgotten about during this method! As the cloth gradually becomes more dirty, rinse it in the soap solution and continue the process. Once thoroughly cleaned, wipe away the excess solution using a soft dry cloth, preferably another microfibre one.

Lastly, use a leather to conditioner to bring your sofa back to life. As with the test patch for the soap solution, do a test patch for the leather conditioner you are using; different leathers respond to different conditioners. Once you have confirmed that your chosen leather conditioner is right for your sofa, use a white soft cloth to polish. The reason for using a white cloth when conditioning is because coloured cloths tend to rub into the sofa, ingraining the coloured dyes into the leather. Once you have finished buffing the sofa with the conditioner, you are done! Step back and look at your revitalised leather friend who destined to live a long happy life in your living room.

To keep your sofa looking good, you should carry out these steps every month, or bi-weekly for an all-year shine.

Stains, Scratches & Smells


The best way to prevent stains on your leather sofa is to clean up any spills immediately! To remove ink stains, rubbing alcohol can be a great quick fix, whereas watermarks are best removed by a solution of distilled water and leather conditioner. By cleaning your leather sofa on a regular basis, you can prevent stains from setting in permanently in addition to making less work for yourself in future cleaning sessions.

Another issue with leather is that it is especially amenable to scratches. Depending on how deep and severe the scratch is, it is usually possible to treat it with a gentle solution of water and vinegar (same as before); confidently clean the scratch to remove any dirt and then dab some baby oil onto the scratch using a cotton pad. Allow it to dry and then wipe away any excess oil with a soft white cloth.

Using a leather sofa every day means that there will often be odours and smells that linger. This is often due to a spillage that hasn’t been cleared up or general wear and tear from regular use. One of the best home remedies for smelly sofas is baking soda! If there is an area of the sofa that is particularly malodorous, sprinkle some baking soda onto the affected area and leave for up to 15 minutes. Once this time period has passed, vacuum up the baking soda and voila!

There you have it. Leather sofas can last a lifetime, but only if you give it the TLC it deserves.

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