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How to Clean a Leather Sofa

A few bad stains and spills can ruin the overall appearance of a classic leather sofa – especially if left untreated or cleaned incorrectly. Learn to preserve your sofa’s quality and beauty for years to come with these simple guides on cleaning leather sofas.
Gordon sofa

How to Clean a Leather Sofa

(How to Disinfect Leather Sofas)

Follow these steps for general spills and messes.

  1. Make a cleaning solution by mixing equal parts water and vinegar in a bowl.
  2. Remove dust, dirt and loose particles from the surface of the leather sofa with a vacuum cleaner.
  3. In case of separation, mix the solution a few times more, and dip a soft cloth into the solution.
  4. Wring out the cloth so that it is damp (and not soaking), and begin wiping the dirty areas of the leather.
  5. Once you have wiped down the problem spots, wipe any damp areas with a dry cloth.
Gordon sofa

How to Remove Ink Stains from a Leather Sofa

(Ink) accidents happen. Get to them quickly – and follow these steps to help reduce their effects.

  1. Apply rubbing alcohol to a cotton ball.
  2. Gently dab (don’t rub) the ink stain with the cotton ball until it begins to lift. Apply more rubbing alcohol to a fresh cotton ball and repeat.
  3. Pat the area dry with a soft cloth.
recliner sofa

How to Remove Grease Stains from a Leather Sofa

More than you probably realize, grease stains happen – because, more than you probably realize, it’s in most of the food you eat! Here’s how to zap them when they just won’t budge.

  1. Sprinkle a pinch of baking soda over the stain.
  2. Let the baking soda sit for a couple hours or until the oil is absorbed.
  3. Wipe away the remains with a soft cloth.
  4. Wring out the cloth so that it is damp (and not soaking), and begin wiping the dirty areas of the leather.

How to Condition a Leather Sofa

Cleaning is only half the process. Keep your piece feeling and looking new with some deep conditioning.

  1. In a bowl, mix equal parts vinegar and a natural oil – lemon oil or flaxseed oil tend to work the best.
  2. Dip a soft cloth into the solution. Wring it out (so that it is damp and not soaking), and begin gently wiping down the surface of the sofa.
  3. The next day, wipe down the sofa with a fresh, dry cloth.

leather sofa

Tips for Preventing Stains

  • When a stain occurs, get to it immediately. This will increase your chances of getting it out.
  • Clean regularly. Ironically, in order to avoid the hassle that comes with cleaning stains, the best thing to do is to keep cleaning regularly! This is because most of the “stains” you see on leather are actually the setting-in of dirt over a long period of time. Taking a few seconds to wipe down your leather couch with a soft cloth once a week will help to prevent tough buildup.
  • Condition after cleaning. Cleaning with a water-based cleaner can lead to drying of natural oils found in the leather, which in turn can lead to cracking and even destroy the leather’s soft sheen. The solution? Conditioning after cleaning. Whether it’s coconut, lemon or other, a mild oil will help to replenish any lost softness.
  • Remember to limit the water usage. If you want to stick to a cleaning solution that’s all-organic, you can easily make one at home by mixing equal parts natural ingredients and water. Once you’ve created the solution, it can be easy to get excited about all the good you’re doing (i.e., avoiding harsh chemicals!), and even easier to overdo it by applying too much solution. Remember that as great, all-natural, all-organic water is, it still shouldn’t be considered a “friend” to your sofa. Limit the amount of solution you use to treat stains, or else risk unsightly water damage!
  • Finally and most importantly, always check the cleaning codes on your leather piece, or look for a care manual you may have received with it at the time of purchase. If you do not have access to a manual or are not sure about how to properly clean a particular type of leather, you can always call the manufacturer, who will be able to provide recommendations for safe cleaning products.

What about Scratches?

Leather is one of the most luxe materials for a sofa. It’s buttery-soft feel makes it timeless and inviting. Like any natural material, though, it can also be easily susceptible to scratches – especially if you live with pets. Follow these measures to help extend the life of your favorite leather sofa.

  1. Clean the scratch. Use a mild cleaning solution (any of the ones outlined in the steps above will work) to thoroughly clean the scratch.
  2. Apply a mild oil like baby oil to a cotton ball. Rub the scratch using circular movements.
  3. Wipe off the oil, after letting it air dry.


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Editorial Disclaimer: Articles featuring tips and advice are intended for educational purposes and only as general recommendations. Always practice personal discretion when using and caring for furniture, decor and related items.