how to clean leather couch

Keeping your furniture clean makes your home beautiful and protects what could be a sizable investment. Learning how to clean a leather couch and other furniture the right way is an essential part of helping your furniture look newer longer.

The good news is it doesn’t have to be difficult! As long as you use the right leather furniture cleaner and follow a recommended cleaning process, your furniture will look awesome for years to come.

Why Choose Leather Furniture, Anyway?

With so many fabric choices available, why do people choose leather furniture? Many find the warmth and luxury of leather appealing. It looks better with wear, many propose. And while quality leather furniture may require more of an investment than cheaper furniture, there are many reasons the return is well worth it:

  • Leather Ages Well

Because leather is a natural product, its coloration and texture will change over time, bringing out a unique patina and creating a more supple feel. Unlike many fabric furniture coverings, leather can become more comfortable as it ages. On some leather finishes, the knicks and scratches that come from normal use create a one-of-a-kind look that is part of the appeal.

  • Leather Furniture Lasts Longer

You may buy a quality leather sofa or recliner once in your lifetime—and that will probably be often enough. Leather will last longer than most furniture fabrics if it’s cleaned and maintained correctly. Because of its natural durability, a leather couch can hold its own against kids, pets, and more. If your leather furniture will get lots of use, choose furniture made with protected leather for increased durability. No matter what kind of leather you go with, you’ll find it to be a sound investment, have good value and esthetically pleasing.

  • Leather Is Climate-Controlled and Hypoallergenic

Leather’s breathability allows sofas and other furniture to naturally warm to room temperature and your body heat in winter and stay cool in summer. This makes leather an ideal choice for your home, no matter what kind of climate you live in. Leather is also more hypoallergenic than most fabrics because it doesn’t harbor as much pet hair, pollen, dust mites, and other allergens. That makes leather an excellent choice for keeping respiratory pollutants to a minimum.

  • Leather Is Easy to Clean and Maintain

Learning how to clean leather chairs and other furniture is easy. For general cleaning maintenance, dust your leather sofa or chairs weekly using a microfiber cloth. Use your vacuum with a brush attachment to get beneath the cushions. If you need more cleaning power, use a cloth dampened with distilled water to wipe down the leather. When your leather sofa needs a deep cleaning, follow the pro tips below.

How to Clean a Leather Sofa and Other Leather Furniture

Learning how to clean a leather couch or other furniture begins with knowing your leather. Pigmented leather is the most popular and durable, aniline leather is the most natural-looking, and semi-aniline shares traits from both. But what does all this mean?

  • Aniline Leather

Also called pure aniline, full aniline, or simply unfinished leather, aniline leather is known for its luxurious look and supple feel. Furniture makers dye the tanned leather using aniline dye with no surface pigment added to retain the hide’s natural beauty. Aniline leather typically has no protective coating, but some manufacturers apply a dirt-resistant finish. This means a sofa made with aniline leather will be more susceptible to dirt and stains than protected leathers.

  • Pigmented Leather

Pigmented leather is the predominant leather used for modern furniture coverings. While pigmented leather can’t quite match the natural look of aniline leather, it has several advantages that make it popular. Because pigmented leather is colored using a polymer coating, the surface coating can be printed, embossed, or otherwise embellished. Pigmented leather is also far more resistant to soiling, scuffing, scratching, and fading than aniline leather.

  • Semi-Aniline Leather

Semi aniline leather is aniline-dyed and then layered with a coating that contains a pigment. Semi aniline leather has the soft feel of pure aniline leather and the durability of pigmented leather. Other manufacturing processes use thicker layers of polymer and pigment for increased protection, but these leathers can be stiff and uncomfortable.

How to Clean a Leather Sofa and Other Furniture With Unprotected Leather

Some leather care guides recommend only dusting unprotected aniline leather with a clean, dry cloth, vacuuming it regularly, and occasionally wiping it down with a cloth slightly dampened with distilled water. The natural look that makes aniline leather so appealing can be damaged if you clean it incorrectly. Consult the manufacturer or a leather cleaning professional before using any leather cleaning products.

How to Clean Leather Furniture With Protected Leather

Semi-aniline and pigmented leather can stand up to deeper cleaning than aniline leather. But stay away from saddle soap, detergents, oils, furniture polishes, abrasive materials, and any cleaners containing ammonia or alkalies. Here’s how to clean a leather couch or other furniture with a protective finish:

  • Put down a drop cloth or towels to catch drips.
  • Remove dirt and dust with your vacuum’s brush attachment.
  • Mix one part distilled white vinegar with one part distilled water.
  • Dip a clean microfiber cloth in your leather cleaning solution and wring out the excess.
  • Rub the leather using a circular motion; don’t get it too wet.
  • As your cleaning cloth gets dirty, rinse it in the bowl, wring it out, and continue.
  • Change out your leather cleaning solution if it gets too dirty.
  • Finish up by drying the leather with a clean, dry microfiber cloth.

Simple, right? We did tell you learning how to clean your leather sofa and other furniture would be easy!

But what about those inevitable spills and stains? You could just make your leather furniture off-limits to the family, but that kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? Depending on what type of leather you have, there are specific remedies for treating stains on leather.

How to Remove Stains From Leather Furniture

For spills on fabric upholstery and leather, it’s crucial to take care of the spill right away to prevent a permanent stain. Remember, the manufacturer’s labels will often provide information about the type of leather along with cleaning tips and warnings. If you’re not sure what kind of leather you’re working with, know that most leather furniture is finished with a protective layer. Test an inconspicuous spot first, just in case.

For spills on aniline leather, blot the spill as quickly as possible with a clean, dry white cloth to absorb it. Check with the manufacturer, furniture store, or a leather cleaning professional before you go further.

For protected leather, clean water-based spills such as juice or coffee with a clean white cloth dampened slightly with distilled water and leave it to dry. For ink stains, dab the stain with cotton swabs lightly dampened with rubbing alcohol. Follow up with a damp cloth and buff the area dry. For greasy stains like butter or condiments, remove excess grease by dabbing with a paper towel and pour baking soda on the stain. Let it sit overnight and brush it off with a clean cloth.

Other stains may need additional cleaning, so check your label or other reliable source for specific leather stain removal recommendations.

How to Keep Your Leather Furniture Looking Its Best

Using a leather conditioner on your furniture periodically, and especially after cleaning, will keep it soft, pliable, and looking beautiful. Aniline leather conditioning may require specialized products, and the leather must be gently cleaned prior to conditioning. If your unfinished leather furniture needs a deep cleaning and conditioning, consult a professional.

For protected leathers, you can condition and polish your leather with this DIY leather conditioner:

Mix a half-cup of distilled white vinegar and one cup of linseed oil. Apply the leather conditioner sparingly and massage it into the leather with a microfiber cloth. Once the leather conditioner soaks into the leather, use a dry microfiber cloth to buff it to a beautiful shine. This two-for-one leather solution will keep the leather from cracking and splitting and give it a luxurious look.

Now that you know how to clean a leather couch, why stop there? Check out our extensive library of professional tips and tricks for cleaning things all over the house. Whether it’s through our insightful articles or by using one of our popular house cleaning services, The Maids is committed to helping you enjoy a healthier, cleaner home. Find out more when you get your free online estimate today.


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