How to Clean a Leather Couch? Complete Guide

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How to clean a leather couch? Having a leather couch in your living room can easily improve the overall style of the room. But if the leather couch isn’t cleaned and maintained, it will stand out. In this article, I’ll give the steps on how to clean a leather couch so that it looks new again.

How to clean a leather couch? To clean a leather couch naturally, follow these general tips:

  • Spot a stain on a leather couch using a bit of rubbing alcohol or baking soda.
  • To wipe down the entire leather couch, you can use vinegar or liquid detergent.
  • For a deeper clean of a leather couch, you can use a steam cleaner with caution.

Read on to learn more about how to clean a leather couch, including removing stains, deep cleaning, and conditioning.

Also, to make cleaning the couch a breeze, take a look at the Shark CH701 Cyclone PET Handheld Vacuum with PetExtract Hair. This vacuum is portable, ultra-lightweight, powerful, and has an easy-to-empty dust cup:

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How to Clean a Leather Couch?

how to clean a leather sofa

Whichever kind of leather your couch is made of, you should follow a couple of rules on how to clean a leather couch. The number one rule to remember when cleaning leather couches or upholstery is not cutting any corners.

Think about it – if you have spent quite a fortune to get an upscale genuine leather couch, it would be best to follow the cleaning guidelines recommended by the manufacturer. Keep in mind that if your leather couch is ruined by using the wrong DIY cleaner, any warranties you have on it could be voided.

Most manufacturers recommend using vacuum cleaners with a soft brush attachment to get rid of crumbs, dirt, and other debris from your leather couch. A light wiping down after a vacuum sweep can be the simplest weekly cleaning combination you can try.

The Shark Rocket Ultra-Light Hand Vacuum is a good choice for a quick clean as it comes with the TruePet Mini Motorized Brush for handheld deep cleaning:

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It comes with a 15-foot power cord, allowing you to clean not just your leather couch but a whole room without the need to recharge. Plus, it is very portable at only four pounds.

There are many DIY options available on the internet on how to clean a leather couch. These options are quick, simple, and do not require you to break the bank. Below are some of the best ones:

How to Clean Leather Couch with Ink Stains

Time is of the essence when it comes to cleaning accidental ink stains on a leather couch. Ink stains may forever leave a mark on the surface of your couch, so you have to act quickly and remove them as soon as possible.

Pour rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball. Lightly dab on the area until the stain is lifted off. Pat the area dry with a soft cloth afterward.

How to Clean Leather Couch with Grease Stains

Game time and movie marathon snacks are mostly greasy, and unfortunately, grease can stick to the surface of your leather couch. You can get rid of grease stains by sprinkling a bit of baking soda on the stain and let it sit for a couple of hours to absorb all the oils. Wipe it off with a soft, clean cloth after.

How to Clean Leather Couch by Steam Cleaning

If you feel like giving your leather couch a deluxe cleaning treatment, then steam cleaning is the way to go. It is an effective way to rid your leather couch of molds, dirt, and stains. Steam cleaning also removes 99 percent of germs due to its hot water solution. The best part is that you will never have to subject your couch and yourself to the harsh effects of chemical cleaning agents.

Here are easy steps to follow for steam cleaning leather couch or upholstery:

Step 1 – Get a Steam Cleaner

It doesn’t have to be a high-end or industrial steam cleaner, as this can be fairly expensive. You can invest in a portable upholstery steam cleaner or even rent one from your local home improvement store instead.

Step 2 – Pre-treat Before Steaming

This step is crucial to steam clean your leather couch effectively.

  1. All seating cushions must be removed, if possible.
  2. Prepare a mixture of hot water plus ½ cup white vinegar and ½ cup linseed oil. 
  3. Get a damp cloth and dip it to the water-vinegar-oil solution. Use this cloth to wipe the entire surface of the couch.
  4. If you have an aged or mildew-laden leather couch, wipe it down with rubbing alcohol.
  5. Leave to air dry for at least one hour.

Step 3 – Prepare the Steamer

Get your steamer ready by filling it with the recommended solution. You also need to perform a patch test. This test will ensure that the hot water or solution will not damage the leather.

Also, if your steamer has a temperature control setting, turn it to a lower heat setting as a high setting could damage the leather.

Step 4 – Proceed with Steam Cleaning

If the patch test is successful, you may proceed with steam cleaning. Use the brush attachment to steam clean each section once or twice, starting with the back section of your leather couch. You should also steam the inside portion (usually covered by cushions) in a circular motion.

Step 5 – Dry the Area Thoroughly

After steam cleaning the whole couch, check to see if there are extra damp areas. Wipe these areas thoroughly with a cloth. Leave to dry for a few hours, preferably with your windows open for better ventilation. You can also use a dehumidifier to speed up the drying process.

You can check out the SpeedClean Commercial Duty Vapor Steam Cleaner to experience the real joy of deep cleaning:

Click here to see it on Amazon.

It may be a small unit, but it can deliver a cleaning power comparable to larger professional units available in the market. 

It can efficiently clean, degrease, and deodorize your leather couch while getting rid of 99.9 percent of bacteria and viruses accumulated throughout the years of use. Just remember to be very careful not to keep the steam on your leather couch for too long, or the steam could permanently damage your couch instead of cleaning it.

How to Clean a Leather Couch by Deep Conditioning

Deep conditioning may be done every once in a while to keep your leather couch looking and feeling new. To do this, you will need equal parts of white vinegar and natural oil, such as flaxseed or lemon oil. 

  • Dip a soft, clean cloth to the vinegar and oil solution and wring out the excess.
  • Use a soft, damp towel or cloth to wipe down the couch surface.
  • Let it dry and wipe it with a clean, dry cloth the next day.

Remember that you can perform deep conditioning after cleaning your leather couch thoroughly. Never do this step without first ridding your couch of dirt and debris.

If you want a quick fix on your weekly cleaning, an excellent all-in-one and portable cleaning tool you can try is the BISSELL SpotClean ProHeat Portable Spot and Stain Carpet Cleaner:

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It can remove tough stains on your carpet and upholstered furniture with ease using its patented Heatwave Technology, which helps maintain an optimal temperature while cleaning.

With its self-cleaning capacity and conveniently portable size, this tool can be the next best thing in your cleaning arsenal!

Faux Leather Couch – Cleaning Tips

Cleaning a faux leather couch can be easy and inexpensive, too. Here are some tips:

  • Like genuine leather, faux leather must also be pre-treated by removing dirt and debris with a quick vacuum sweep.
  • Prepare a solution of warm water with a few drops of dishwashing liquid in a squirt bottle for easier application. 
  • Use a soft, clean towel or cloth to wipe down the faux leather couch, particularly in areas with stains. Use circular motions when wiping.
  • Let it dry and then condition with a specific conditioner suitable for faux leather.

See the below video for more tips on cleaning a leather couch:

Quick Tips on Preventing Stains

The saying, Prevention is better than cure, is not just applicable to our health but also to how we can maintain the durability of furniture, especially leather couches, for years to come.

Here are five quick tips on how to prevent stains on leather couch from happening:

  1. Clean an accidental stain immediately after it happens. This way, the stain will less likely seep into the deeper layers of your leather couch. You can use baby wipes to clean small stains.
  2. Wiping down with a clean cloth once a week can prevent tough dirt and stain buildup. This will prevent the stain from getting worse over time.
  3. Use a mild oil to condition the leather. It can help replenish any lost softness and sheen from constant cleaning.
  4. Limit the use of any wet solution to just the minimum amount needed to avoid irreversible water damage or stains on your leather couch.
  5. Don’t forget to check the cleaning manual for specific care instructions to save time and money on professional cleaning.

What Is Leather?

When it comes to cleaning a leather couch, it is good to know about what leather is and the different types of leather.

Real leather is a natural product created from the process of curing animal skins called tanning. Cattle skins made into leather are called hides, which actually make up the majority of leather used in upholstered furniture.

Leather is considered the most durable of all materials used for couches. Due to the tedious process of creating leather and its durability, you can be sure that it doesn’t come cheap.

ways to clean leather couch

Types of Leather Couches

Quality real leather couches are made with the sturdiest frames and softest cushioning, making them exceptionally comfortable. There are two main categories of leather, and only specific types of leather are used for couches

1. Unprotected Leather

Aniline Leather

Also called unfinished leather, aniline leather is the most natural-looking of all leathers. It is sought-after for its uniqueness brought about by visible animal hide traits. It also has a luxuriously soft texture as it is never treated with polymer and pigment. Aniline leather can be colored but only with a specific dye.

To enhance the look and feel of aniline leather couches and to provide some dirt resistance, only a light non-pigment coating is applied on the surface. Due to the lack of a stronger protective coating, it is more sensitive to staining compared to other types of leather. It also has a more upscale, deluxe feel to it, making it typically more expensive. Full-grain leather and top-grain leather belong to this category.

When it comes to cleaning an aniline leather couch, it is important to take great care not to damage the leather. It is easy for aniline leather to get stained, so if it does, you can clean the stain with a very gently liquid detergent. Gently dab the stain with a cloth until the stain is gone, and then pat dry.

2. Protected Leather

Pigmented Leather

Due to its polymer surface coating, this type of leather is the most durable, as it provides better resistance to fading, scuffing, and staining. The coating can be printed on, embossed, or used plainly.

Semi-Aniline Leather

Unlike aniline leather that cannot be treated with a pigmented coat, semi-aniline leather can be treated with a lightly pigmented surface coating, resulting in a more consistent color all over. The coating also adds an extra degree of protection, making it a more durable choice than aniline leather couches.

Bi-cast leather, nubuck, and suede fall under the protected leather category as they are all treated with a type of coating that enhances not only the look and color of the leather but also its durability.

How to Clean a Suede Couch?

Suede leather couches aren’t as common as regular leather couches. If you have a suede leather couch and it gets stained, you can clean it with vinegar or baking soda. Add a bit of vinegar to a cotton swab and dab the stain until it is gone. If the stain doesn’t come out, add some baking soda. After, use a wet cloth to clean the couch, and then pat dry.

What About Faux Leather?

Faux leather is a man-made material that imitates the look and feel of genuine leather. Modern technology has not yet reached the point where faux leather is at par in quality with its natural counterpart. However, it is still a great alternative, especially for animal lovers.

Conclusion – How to Clean Leather Couch? 

A leather couch can give any living space an upgrade with its sleek look and luxurious upholstery. However, it can be an intimidating sight in terms of cleaning and maintaining it. After all, spending quite a fortune to get yourself a relaxing, upscale leather couch means that you want it to last.

Tips on Cleaning a Leather Couch

So, how to clean a leather couch naturally? Follow these brief tips when cleaning your leather couch:

  • Spot treat a stain on a leather couch by using a bit of baking soda or rubbing alcohol
  • To wipe down the entire leather couch, you can use liquid detergent or vinegar.
  • For a deeper clean of a leather couch, you can use a steam cleaner.

Other tips for cleaning a leather couch naturally are as follows:

  • Get yourself a portable vacuum cleaner to quickly clean dirt and food debris.
  • Baby wipes, rubbing alcohol, and cotton balls are your best friends when it comes to cleaning small, fresh accidental stains.
  • A simple mixture of vinegar, natural oils (e.g., flaxseed oil), and water can help keep the leather shiny and supple.
  • Proper ventilation is the key to quickly and correctly dry your leather couch after a cleanse.

Additional Reminders

Additional reminders to keep on top of your proper cleaning tips:

  • It is best to check the manufacturer’s manual first before trying out any home cleaning hacks.
  • Steam cleaning must be done with caution, as too much moisture can permanently damage your leather couch.
  • Deep conditioning must only be done after a thorough cleaning, and once your leather couch has completely dried. 

In the end, don’t be scared of a little greasy stain or crumbly bits of food here and there. Your leather couch is there to help you relax and just be comfortable at home.

So try to keep in mind the easy-to-follow tips mentioned above the next time your couch needs some cleaning. You’ll be surprised that a leather couch isn’t so hard to clean and maintain for life.

Related reading:

How to Clean a Microfiber Couch, Fabric Couch, or Cloth Couch

How to Clean a Couch? Cloth, Microfiber – 6 Steps

Is Bonded Leather Real Leather? What is Bonded or Blended Leather?

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