How to Clean a Leather Couch for a Brand New Look

Leather couches are not only a gorgeous addition to your living room, but they are also an investment. When cared for properly, leather couches will stand the test of time and children and pets. But what does proper care of leather furniture entail? Let’s take a look at some of the steps you can take to keep your furniture looking great.

Well Maintained Leather Furniture

via @mise_en_place_aus

How to Clean and Condition Leather Furniture

Preventative measures are some of the most essential steps to keeping clean leather furniture. For example, you should always keep your leather chairs and couches out of direct sunlight, which can cause fading and cracks. It is also a good idea to set a cleaning schedule for your furniture to help it maintain its quality.

  • Dust your furniture with a soft cloth such as microfiber every week.
  • Vacuum the entire couch, using a crevice tool to get all the nooks and crannies and under cushions, after you finish dusting.
  • Spray your furniture with a leather conditioner and wipe it down with a clean microfiber cloth.

It is crucial that you only use cleaning solutions designed for leather, or you may run the risk of damaging the leather.

Homemade Solutions for Cleaning Leather Sofa

While store-bought cleaners and conditioners formulated specifically for leather upholstery are great for keeping your furniture in tip-top shape, some folks would prefer to avoid using harsh chemicals in their homes whenever possible. And that is totally fine. There are many excellent solutions you can mix up at home with safe, everyday ingredients.

However, as with any new cleaning product, we recommend that you test your homemade cleaner on a small patch of leather in a spot that is not highly visible before using it all over your furniture.

1. Vodka & Oil

While wiping down your leather couches with a damp washcloth will remove some surface dust and dirt, you need something a little more substantial for a good, deep clean. And as always, after you clean, you will want to condition your leather to keep it soft and supple. So what will you need for this hack?

  • Vodka
  • Olive or Avocado Oil
  • Clean Cloths

Let’s get started:

Dampen one of your microfiber cloths with some vodka and begin wiping down your furniture. You will be shocked at how much dirt and grime you will pull off the surface of your upholstery. If you feel that your cloth is getting too dingy, feel free to trade it out for a clean one.

Once you have completed your deep clean of the entire surface, move on to the conditioning step. First, dampen another cloth with oil in the same way you did with the vodka. Then, working in small circles, rub the oil into the leather. Once you have finished this step, be sure to let your furniture air dry completely before sitting on it.

2. Removing Grease Stains

Finding a grease stain on your leather furniture can be very upsetting. Where did this come from, and how on earth are you going to get rid of it? While grease and oil stains can seem daunting, they are usually easy to remove as long as you know this simple hack.

  • Clean Dry Cloth
  • Talcum Powder or Cornstarch
  • A Soft Bristled Brush

Let’s get started:

Using your dry, clean cloth, gently dab the problem area. Do NOT rub or scrub the stain; this creates the risk of spreading it.

Once you have soaked up as much of the stain as possible, sprinkle the area liberally with talcum powder or cornstarch. Let this sit for a minimum of 20 minutes, and longer is better if you can. Then, gently sweep the powder off the furniture using the soft-bristled brush. Again, do not scrub; gently sweep. You may need to repeat this step a couple of times to remove the stain entirely.

(This technique also works on other types of fabric)

Leather Couch After Cleaning with Talcum Powder or Cornstarch

via @fullerbrushco

3. Gentle Cleanser

Here is another fantastic DIY cleaning solution that is safe and effective and uses a combination of gentle household items.

  • Dawn Dish Soap
  • Baking Soda
  • Salt
  • Warm Water
  • A Bowl
  • Clean Cloths

Let’s get started:

  • Combine the Dawn, baking soda, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Mix this together, adding little bits of warm water until it is the consistency of paste.
  • Dip a fresh cloth into your dish soap cleaning solution and use it to scrub your leather furniture. You will need to rinse your cloth under a warm tap as you go to keep it from getting gummed up.
  • Once you have thoroughly cleaned your furniture, allow it to air dry for around 20 minutes and then condition.
Cleaning a Leather Couch Before and After

via @momsbistro

4. Vinegar & Oil

Vinegar and oil make excellent salad dressings. However, did you know they also work wonderfully to clean and protect your leather furniture? This cleaning and conditioning duo is easy to use and safe enough to eat. You’ll need:

  • Distilled White Vinegar
  • Avocado or Olive Oil
  • Clean Cloths
  • The first step, get your leather sofas squeaky clean. To do this, dampen one of your clothes with some white vinegar and wipe down every available surface. Once this is done, allow your furniture to air dry.
  • Now take another cloth and pour on a small amount of your chosen oil. Using small circles, buff the oil into your leather. This will help condition your leather and keep it looking shiny and new.
Leather Couch Cleaned with Vinegar and Oil

via @our_whittlesey_home

5. Lemon Spray

This pet-safe conditioning solution will leave your leather furniture feeling soft and smelling fresh. It is easy to make and even easier to use, and just one batch will last you a long time.

You will need:

  • Clean Cloth
  • A Glass or Stainless Steel Spray Bottle
  • Lemon Essential Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Fill your spray bottle most of the way up with olive oil, and then add 20-30 drops of lemon oil. Set this aside while you wipe down your furniture with a dry cloth to remove dust and pet hair.
  • Once your furniture is free of debris, spray a small area, and using another clean towel, rub the oil mixture into the upholstery. Continue to do this until you have conditioned the entire piece.
  • This non-toxic furniture polish also works great on your leather car seats, stainless steel appliances, and even your wood tables and cabinets. Also, if you don’t love the smell of lemon, you can use a different essential oil such as grapefruit or geranium.
DIY Leather Cleaner Safe for Pets

via @iamlyndsaymarie

How to Remove Regular Stains?

We’ve discussed how to remove stuck-on dirt and oil stains safely, but what about other issues like an ink stain from pens or markers? What about stuck on messes like paint or glue? Here are some quick and easy ways to remove regular stains from your leather furniture.

Ink Stains

For any type of ink or marker staining your couch, you will want to use rubbing alcohol. First, apply your rubbing alcohol to a cotton swab and gently blot the stain. Once the stain has lifted, use a mild soap like Dawn to finish cleaning the area.

Alcohol can dry out your leather surfaces, so use as little as possible and be sure to use a leather conditioner afterward.

Stuck on Mess

For stains that are stuck to the surface of your leather furniture, you will want to use a gentle plant-based oil like olive or avocado and a dull butter knife. Pour a small puddle of oil over the problem area, and then use the tip of your knife to gently scrape the stuck-on substance away. The oil acts as both a lubricant to the mess and a protective barrier for the leather, helping to keep it from being scratched. See how it works here.

Cleaning and Conditioning Leather Furniture

via @nycsteamcleaning

DIY Leather Furniture Repair

Unfortunately, leather that is not taken care of properly can develop cracks. If your leather couch has been used as a scratching post or if you just purchased some lovely, vintage leather chairs that have seen better days, don’t give up on them yet. It will take a little effort and a few specialized products, but you can have that leather looking fresh and new again in just a few hours. You will need:

  • Your Favorite Leather Conditioner
  • Flexible Leather Filler
  • Leather Paint
  • Leather Glue
  • Leather sealant

The first thing you will want to do is give the trouble area a deep and thorough conditioning. Next, you will coat any cracks or thin areas with thin layers of your leather filler. Be sure to let the filler dry completely between coats. Once you have no more cracks, cover over the filler with your leather paint. Finally, once all is set and dry, protect your work with a couple of layers of sealant.

If done correctly, and if proper leather care routines are followed after, your repairs should last for many years to come.

Leather Coach Before and After DIY Repair

via @bland_design

Many of the items that make our lives more comfortable are on their own maintenance schedules. Our cars need oil changes. Our air conditioning needs new filters. Think of your leather furniture in the same way. A little bit of preventative care with these easy cleaning tricks will help prevent cracking and extend the life of your furniture for many years to come.