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How to Clean and Maintain Leather Sofas

How to Clean and Maintain Leather Sofas


Leather sofas are a worthy and durable investment that looks great in your home and office, if well-maintained. However, don’t think that cleaning and maintaining leather sofas are a chore and hassle. In fact, the right maintenance routine using the following tips can help your leather sofa last a long time.

Maintain and stick to a routine

You have to maintain your sofa just as you would your floors and curtains. Start a regular cleaning regimen and stick to it and you won’t find cleaning it so difficult!

How to clean your leather sofa

The basic rule of the thumb here is ‘little-is-much’ and to clean your sofa at least once in three months. A weekly cleaning by dusting the sofa with a feather duster and sofa cloth is also more than enough. This is, in addition, to regularly turning and fluffing the cushions.

You can use the vacuum’s soft brush attachment to clean the sofa if it was used heavily during the week. But be extremely gentle on your couch and do your cleaning without using any wet clothes, harsh and ammonia-based reagents or bleach.

The best way to clean your sofa is by first vacuuming and removing all dust. Dust is abrasive, especially when it gets wet when you start cleaning with a cleaning solution. Once the dust is removed, make a cleaning solution of equal parts of vinegar or commercial leather cleaner and water.

Then soak a cleaning cloth, preferably a soft microfiber and wring it out so that it’s not wet but just damp, and use to thoroughly wipe the couch. Rinse the cloth as necessary. It’s after this is done that you use a towel to dry the couch. However don’t use any blow dryers for drying as it’s a heat source, and only dehydrates the leather.

How to condition or polish a leather sofa

It’s natural for your sofa to get dry with time. And the best way to overcome this problem and to keep your sofa shining is with regular polishing. Start by making a conditioning solution by mixing one part of vinegar to two parts linseed or flaxseed oil.

Now use a soft cloth to apply the solution to your sofa with broad and circular motions and leave it overnight. Now finish off the conditioning, and restore the couch’s shine by buffing the sofa with a dry, clean cloth. It’s more than enough to polish the sofa once in three months.

How to remove stains on leather sofas

The secret to removing stains is to quick action. While you have to wipe and not rub off stains immediately, different stains have to be taken care of in different manners.

  1. In case of mold and mildew stains, mix equal parts of water and rubbing alcohol and clean the stain by wetting a soft cloth in the cleaning solution.
  2. In case of stains caused by ink and permanent markers, use aerosol hairspray to remove the marker stains and eucalyptus oil or rubbing alcohol to remove ink stains.
  3. You need a paste mixing together equal amounts of lemon juice and cream of tartar to remove dark colored stains from a light colored couch. Rub this paste onto the stains, leave for ten minutes, and then rub some more of the paste on the stain. Wipe off using a damp sponge.
  4. Removing grease stains is not very difficult as you just have to put some baking soda on the grease. The stain disappears when you dust off the powder after a while as the powder lifts the stain with it.
  5. Professional cleaners are best called to remove any stubborn stains. They have the know-how and equipment to remove stubborn stains without damaging your couch.

How to eliminate unpleasant smells from leather sofas

Leather tends to absorb strong smells like cigarette smoke and pet odors. While nothing can be done about this natural tendency, you can at least prevent it by wiping the sofa with a soft cloth dabbed in some baby oil.

It leaves your sofa smelling fresh, and preserves the leather. Though there are various cleaning products specifically meant for preventing and eliminating the strongest smells, always do a spot test on a small patch of the sofa before use.

Additional maintenance tips

  • Always keep your sofa away from sunlight and other heat sources. Heat isn’t good for it as the sofa loses its color and starts cracking because the heat makes it dry. So keep your leather sofa at least ten inches from heat sources like your air conditioner, fireplace, laptops, heating ventilators and even hot cups of beverages. It helps preserve the leather’s moisture and its surface properties.
  • Be careful while sleeping, sitting and using the sofa because cosmetics and hair chemicals do affect your couch layer. Even oils secreted by the neck and arms are not  good for your sofa, which is why leather couch arms usually end up looking lighter than the other parts of the sofa after time.
  • It’s advisable to keep your couch covered most of the time, especially if you have pets at home. They may not scratch your sofa, but their acidic saliva will leave your couch damaged. It’s not possible or feasible to stop your pets from using the sofa, but you can at least cover and protect the couch.
  • Quick action is the best way to get rid of stains. Remove them as soon as possible as the longer the stains remain on the sofa, the deeper it permeates into it, and gets difficult to remove. So dab off any spill immediately. Don’t wipe as wiping only spreads the spill and if it’s penetrating, a large area gets affected.
  • Protecting the sofa’s top later or top color helps prolong your sofa’s life. This is because the top later is vulnerable to soil and wear, and leads to the sofa’s quick deterioration and cracks if destroyed.
  • Always spot test cleaning solutions or reagents you plan to use on some inconspicuous part of the sofa. This is to prevent some solvents damaging your sofa.
  • Last but not least, your sofa needs regular cleaning and conditioning. Follow and maintain your fixed cleaning regimen and your leather sofa will serve you for a long time to come! 
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