Cleaning Leather Furniture Will Protect Your Investment

Leather furniture cleaner will be a must if you want to protect your investment. A good quality leather sofa will last a long time if you learn how to properly clean leather furniture.

Cleaning Leather Furniture

In fact, furniture upholstered in genuine leather can be one of the best choices for a busy household with children and pets. This is because spills wipe up easily, cleaning isn’t difficult and the leather is quite durable.

In fact, most types of leather only look better with age.

You probably chose leather furniture for the style, visual appeal and tactile luxury it provides.

However, it’s also easy to keep it looking great with regular cleaning.

Preventive Tips to Keep Leather Looking Great

Even before you think about how to clean leather furniture, regular maintenance and a number of tips can keep it looking fabulous.

  • Skip the sun – If possible, position leather upholstery so that it’s not in direct sunlight, which can quickly fade leather that has been dyed. In fact, fading can occur in just four to six months. Also, sunlight dries out the leather, sapping its natural oils, causing it to crack. The same goes for heat and hot air that comes from radiators and heat vents.
  • Immediately wipe up spills – To prevent stains, make sure to wipe up spills with a soft cloth right away.
  • Vacuum or dust regularly – Keeping your furniture free of dust and debris helps prevent scratching.
  • Spot test first – Before using any product on leather, do a spot test in an area that’s generally out of sight. Some types of leather or dyes used on it may be more susceptible to color changes.
  • Read the directions – Before you actually clean your leather couch, check with the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations. They may recommend certain products.
  • Condition regularly – Just as your skin needs regular moisturizing, so does your genuine leather furniture.

The supplies you’ll need

  • Vacuum and brush attachment
  • Cotton or microfiber cloth
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Cotton swab
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Leather conditioner

Check the Kind of Leather You Have

Check the Kind of Leather You Have

Before you break out the bucket and microfiber cloth, check to see what type or grade of genuine leather you have. This can affect how you will clean it.

  • Aniline leather is most susceptible to damage from the sun, spills and harsh substances. It does not have any type of protective coating. Of course, it is also the highest quality and most expensive leather thanks to its softness, visual appeal and graceful aging.
  • Semi-Aniline leather is easier to clean because it comes finished with a thin protective coating. This helps shield it from spills and stains.
  • While pigmented leather is the least expensive, it’s also the easiest of all types to clean. It has a heavy protective coating that can stand up to more vigorous cleaning.
How To Clean Leather Furniture

Ready to get started?

  1. Vacuum the furniture
    Even if you do this on a regular basis, you’ll want to vacuum just before you undertake a more involved cleaning. Use the brush attachment on the vacuum cleaner and get down in between and underneath any cushions to suck up crumbs and bits that have fallen in. After that, just give it all a wipe with a dry microfiber cloth.
  2. Give it a visual once-over
    Look over the furniture and assess where the dirtiest parts are. Are there spots or stains that you’ll need to tackle? Be sure to do a spot test before using any cleaning products.
  3. Choose Your Cleaning Solution
    The household staple of vinegar and water is a simple, safe, effective and inexpensive option for cleaning leather sofas.You can use a commercial cleaner but it’s better for your budget and the environment if you skip the chemicals and go the natural route. Saddle soap, which is intended for use on leather, is also an option.
  4. Clean the leather couchMix equal parts vinegar and water in a bucket. Dip in your cloth and wring it out thoroughly. While leather is durable, water is not its friend, so you want the cloth to be damp, not soaking wet.Use the damp rag to wipe down the leather sofa, chair or other leather furniture piece, focusing on the dirtiest areas. Every so often, rinse out the cloth and wring it out again.
  5. Dry it Thoroughly
    This is one of the very important steps in how to clean a leather sofa or chair. After you’ve thoroughly cleaned it, wipe it down well with a dry cloth. Make sure that you get all the folds, pleats, nooks and crannies, especially along any welting or piping. Then let it air dry.
  6. Condition Leather Regularly
    Environmental conditions can dry out leather, so to keep it soft and supple, regular conditioning is necessary. Again, you can use a commercial leather conditioner, but there are also low-cost chemical-free options.
Check the Kind of Leather You Have

Mix 2 cups of warm water with a tablespoon of natural baby soap and a just splash of vinegar. Use a soft, dry cloth to gently apply it to the leather.

Let it sit for about 10 minutes and allow the gentle oils in the baby soap to work on the leather. Buff the surface with a clean cloth to remove any remaining solution and to shine up the leather.

A second option is using linseed oil. Mix one part vinegar with two parts linseed oil in a jar. Shake it up, then grab a dry cloth and use it to apply the mixture to the leather. Rub it into the leather thoroughly using a circular motion. Let it sit and then buff it; this method might take a little extra buffing.

cleaning a leather sofa

Stain Specifics

Spills, pets and careless family members can stain leather. When deciding how to clean a stain, there are extra tips for specific types of stains.

Mystery Stains

Your light-colored leather furniture may get darker stains of indeterminate origin. Try removing it by using a paste of one part lemon juice with two parts cream of tartar. Apply it to the stain and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Then, add another layer, gently rub it in, and remove it with a damp sponge.

Water Stains

Remove water spots from leather with…water. All you need to do is lightly moisten the area again and let it dry.

Ink Stains

Clean an ink stain with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. If you don’t have rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover is another option. Use the swab to gently blot the stain and let it dry. You can repeat the process, using a clean swab each time.

Red Wine

Blot up a wine spill immediately. Mix some mild soap and warm water and froth it up until it’s sudsy. Put some of the soapy foam on the stain using a sponge and let it sit for a few minutes. Wipe it clean and then dry. If the stain is stubborn, repeat the process.

Grease stain

Lotions, sunscreens and other things that we use on our bodies can leave grease stains on leather. Removing one of these stains actually requires very little extra effort.

Sprinkle some baking soda over the stain and wait. You can leave it for a few hours or overnight. The baking soda absorbs the grease. Then, all you have to do is gently wipe it away and clean it as usual.


Admittedly, this is not a type of stain, but it can be a common issue with leather furniture. As long as it’s a minor scratch, you can make it disappear or at least minimize its appearance.

Apply some flaxseed, coconut or other mild oil with a cotton ball. Rub the oil into the scratch using a circular motion until it disappears. Less is more, so use just a little oil because you can always add a touch more if necessary.

The Great Magic Eraser Debate

With the rising popularity of the Magic Eraser and its amazing cleaning power, the pros and cons of using it on leather are debatable.

Pros will tell you it’s a hard “No,” but others, including many DIYers say otherwise.

Overall, it’s best to use the methods listed above as experts say that the Magic Eraser may clean leather easily, but it will also strip off any protective coating that was on the leather. The abrasiveness could also damage the leather.

Using the eraser should be limited to only the area of the stain. If you choose to go this route, spot test first and then proceed with caution and at your own risk.


Know When To Call in the Pros

If your furniture has significant damage that regular cleaning and conditioning can’t remedy, it’s time to call the professionals. Problems like cracks, tears, cuts and major discoloration are best left to the professionals because you might make the problem worse.


How To Clean Leather Furniture

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

How do you rehydrate leather?

If your leather upholstery is drying out, you can rehydrate it. Try using rubbing alcohol and Vaseline. Use a cotton pad to apply rubbing alcohol until the leather is shiny. Then apply Vaseline and let it sit overnight. You can also use coconut oil, a leather-specific conditioner or mink oil.

How do you get stains out of white leather?

If your white leather upholstery has a stain, you can get it out with vinegar and water. Mix a 50-50 solution and use a dry cloth to rub the stain. It’s likely you’ll have to do this repeatedly to remove the stain. Then, use a leather condition and buff the area.

What is best to clean leather furniture with?

A simple mix of equal parts white vinegar and water is the best. You can also use a commercial leather cleaner. Harsh cleaners or those not intended to clean leather can discolor, dry out or otherwise damage the leather.

Can I use Pledge on leather?

Never use any type of dusting spray to clean leather furniture. It builds up over time and can be next to impossible to remove without damaging the leather.

What soap is safe for leather?

To clean leather chairs or sofas, you can use any mild soap, like hand or dish soap.  Add a couple of teaspoons to a bowl of warm water and use it with a soft cloth to clean the surface. Dry it thoroughly.

Leather Furniture Cleaning: Conclusion

So there you have it. None of these steps is overwhelming, especially if you take care of your leather furniture and condition it regularly. Knowing how to clean a leather sofa or chair is a handy and cost-saving skill that will let you enjoy your furniture investment for a long time.