How To Clean A Leather Sofa (Including White Leather!) | 2021
It is not only a piece of furniture that invites relaxation and social interaction but is often also the central focus of the room's feel and style.
When it comes to cleaning a sofa, it's highly dependent on the material and fabric it's made of. In this particular article, we will be discussing everything you need to know to clean a specific type of sofa - the much-loved leather sofa (or leather couch!)
The leather sofa has an undeniable air of sophistication, quality and luxury to it (and often a serious price tag), however, also typically requires a bit more upkeep and general 'looking after'.
Read on below to see all the different ways you can keep your leather sofa spick and span for years to come (as well as the best methods for removing a stain from leather!)
- How To Clean A Leather Sofa With Baking Soda And Vinegar
- What Other Household Products Can You Use To Clean Leather?
- What Is The Best Way To Clean A Leather Sofa?
- Can I Use Washing Up Liquid To Clean My Leather Sofa?
- Can You Use Baby Wipes To Clean A Leather Couch?
- How To Remove Stains From Leather?
First & Foremost- Check Your Cleaning Codes!
Your leather sofa is a unique and refined piece that likely requires specialised cleaning care.
Before cleaning your leather sofa (or any other couch or sofa for that matter) you must check the cleaning codes to make sure that your chosen method won't damage it.
All this information can generally be found in the tags with a coding system that’s fairly easy to decipher.
- W - If your sofa or microfiber couch is labelled with a ‘w’, then you are free to use a water-based solution on it without causing damage.
- S - Sofas labelled with an ‘s’ will be harmed by water! You’ll need to find a special solvent in order to treat a microfiber couch or sofa marked with an ‘s’.
- S-W - If your suede couch has both an ‘s’ and a ‘w’, then you can use either of the above methods without hurting your sofa.
- X - X-labeled sofas should not have any liquid used on them at all. Only use a vacuum and dry rags to take care of stains as any liquid will damage the material.
How to Clean a Leather Sofa with Baking Soda and Vinegar
When it comes to cleaning on a budget, nothing beats baking soda and vinegar.
These two household items are incredible cleaners. Baking soda and vinegar are on the opposite ends of the pH scale (the measure of how acidic something is) which makes them so effective when combined.
Vinegar, or acetic acid, is slightly acidic while baking soda, sodium bicarbonate, is slightly basic or alkaline.
These properties help to dissolve and remove dirt, grease, and grime of all different types from surfaces - including the surface of your leather couch.
Before You Start To Clean Your Sofa:
Before you start cleaning, give your leather sofa a quick vacuum or run a brush across it.
This preliminary clean will remove any loose dirt or grit that can be easily removed, and leaves the cleaning solution to tackle the challenging areas.
The next step before diving in is to do a basic spot test.
Even if your cleaning code states it is safe to use, it's always a good idea just to make sure your leather sofa won't react. To spot test - choose a small and inconspicuous area of the leather couch (i.e. on the underside trim) and apply a little of your cleaning solution.
If this process doesn’t leave any visible marks then you are good to proceed.
Cleaning Your Leather Furniture With Baking Soda:
This method is as easy as it gets.
To clean with baking soda all you have to do is sprinkle it around the leather sofa, making sure you've covered all of the areas you're looking to clean. Leave in place to do its work for about 30 minutes to an hour.
Once the time has elapsed - get a vacuum or a brush and remove the baking soda from your leather furniture.
If using a vacuum, you can get a specialised brush attachment to make it quicker and easier.
You should be able to see a significant improvement after this first pass, however, if you still see some problematic areas, sprinkle the baking soda again and get in there armed with a damp soft cloth to see if a little elbow grease can finish the job.
If this hasn't quite achieved the desired result - you can also go the extra mile by spraying a fine mist of water after you have sprinkled the baking soda to moisten it. Dampening it with water will help it penetrate the surface better and achieve a much deeper clean.
Aside from active cleaning with baking soda, it can also be used to keep your leather couch from smelling bad.
Leather, being made from skin, is an organic material and it can smell bad in the long run as mould, bacteria and fungi develop. This will not only damage your leather furniture but can also affect your health!
The main culprit for this is moisture so undertaking a baking soda clean regularly will prevent this moisture build-up.
Cleaning Leather Furniture With Vinegar:
Vinegar is another classic DIY leather cleaner.
Simply mix one part vinegar with one part water to make a mildly acidic solution. Then use a paper towel or soft cloth to apply the solution with a bit of elbow grease to the areas that need cleaning.
Distilled vinegar is the recommended type of vinegar to use for your cleaning projects.
As its name suggests this kind of vinegar undergoes a distillation process to remove any colouration making it the ideal candidate.
How to Clean a White Leather Sofa
White leather sofas just scream elegance and sophistication. Plus, they’re such statement pieces.
There really isn’t any specific way to clean white leather as opposed to any other colour leather -all of the tips and tricks in this leather cleaning article can be used to clean white leather as well.
However, one way a white leather sofa does differ is that it discolours much more easily and can turn quite yellow over time. This is a natural process that affects all leather, although, it becomes more evident when the leather is white.
The important point for maintaining and looking after white leather sofas is to be extremely proactive in cleaning it. Whenever dirt falls and creates a stain on a white leather couch, it is important to deal with it right away. The longer you take to deal with it, the more time the dirt or stain would have to set in.
All leather sofa owners (and particularly white leather furniture owners) should also invest in specialised leather conditioning solutions to keep that leather beautiful and healthy for the long term.
What Other Household Products Can You Use to Clean Leather?
Aside from the previously mentioned baking soda and vinegar cleaners, there is a range of other items that you can find around the house that you can use to clean leather.
First on the list is probably the simplest and most logical - warm water and soap.
Soap and detergents act as surfactants that form complex aggregates around dirt, making them easier to remove from surfaces. For stains, marks and odours try going over the area with a soft cloth damp with soap and water, then rinsing the soap away.
Another great household item that you can use to remove stains from your leather is rubbing alcohol.
Rubbing alcohol makes for a great cleaning solution due to its non-polar properties. Water is polar and great for removing polar compounds, however, you may be left with non-polar compounds that are staining your leather. In this case, alcohol is great for attacking those stains that are particularly resistant to water-based cleaning methods.
Finally - if you have some natural oils at home (such as fractionated coconut oil or olive oil) these can be used to help moisturize, rejuvenate and provide longevity to your leather.
Just remember to check your cleaning codes and spot test with all of these substances before going for a full clean!
Read on below for answers to some of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to cleaning a leather couch!
What is the Best Way to Clean a Leather Sofa?
The best way to clean a leather sofa is to start out with the easiest, cheapest and safest method you have available. For most people, this is a vinegar, baking soda and/or soap clean.
If your sofa is in need of a rigorous deep clean and these natural DIY household methods just aren't cutting it - you may need to invest in a more heavy-duty and specialised leather cleaner.
Prevention is really the best cure when it comes to cleaning leather though, so regularly applying leather care creams, moisturizers and leather conditioners will actually save you a lot of money and time in the long run!
Can I Use Washing Up Liquid to Clean My Leather Sofa?
It isn’t recommended.
Washing up liquid, dish detergents, or any products containing bleach are generally too harsh for a leather couch.
Stick with your more natural cleaners where possible, and beyond these, go for your specialised leather cleaning and treatment products.
Can You Use Baby Wipes to Clean a Leather Couch?
Again - it isn't recommended.
You'd think that if a wipe is safe and good to use for a baby it would be fine for a leather sofa, but this isn't necessarily the case.
Depending on the brand and makeup of the baby wipes, there is the potential for them to strip away the natural leather oils that help protect it and make it so appealing to sit on!
Our advice is to not risk cleaning your leather with baby wipes, and instead, use purpose-made leather cleaning wipes for a safer and better clean that also treats and maintains your furniture.
How to Remove Stains from Leather?
Removing stains from leather is highly dependent on what kind of stain you’re working with.
With water stains, a neat trick is to use a damp and clean microfiber cloth with distilled water and rub the water stain with circular motions. It may seem strange to clean a water stain with more water, but this is the recommended method! Let the area dry and if the water stain is still there, repeat the process.
Ink stains are typically harder to remove. Start out by trying vinegar, baking soda and rubbing alcohol and if you're having no luck with these, then you're best off using a specialised leather ink remover.
Leather furniture such as your sofa or couch can be one of the most premium features of your house's decor!
They offer immense comfort and style, functioning as the central gathering spot for your family & friends on a quiet night in, weekly movie night or a big celebration.
As with anything that gets well-used and loved, it might pick up a few scuffs & stains, requiring some TLC and general maintenance over time.
As you've hopefully discovered in this article, keeping it in tip-top condition isn't such a tough process and won't break the bank.
P.S. - We have great cleaning guides for all sofa types, so if you have a few different sofas or are planning on getting another - you check them out below:
Take the time to protect your investment and reap the rewards of its comfort and elegance for years to come!