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How to clean a leather sofa

Blue leather sofa freshly cleaned

Renowned for their durability and luxurious finish, leather sofas are investment pieces which rarely go out of fashion for long.

However, for all their great attributes, leather sofas do have one downside – they can get filthy pretty quickly. From spots to stains to daily grime, a regular cleaning routine is essential if you want to keep your leather sofa looking great for its long, and eventful, lifetime.

Don’t know where to begin? Take a look at our expert tips, below, to see the best ways to clean a leather sofa at home.

Clean the surface

To get started with your cleaning routine, grab a vacuum cleaner and connect the brush attachment to the end. Brush gently over the surface, focussing on areas where dirt typically gathers, such as the creases and folds of the couch.

If you can’t find the brush attachment, use a feather duster and not the upholstery attachment – using this attachment could scratch the surface of your sofa.

Once you’ve shaken all the debris from your leather sofa, you then need to wipe the grime away (yes, that includes black leather, too). For this, you can do a brief clean with leather wipes or baby wipes, but to really get deep into the folds of the furniture a homemade solution is usually most effective.

Orange leather sofa cleaned with microfiber cloth

Here’s how to quickly clean your leather sofa at home.

What you need:

  • Water (room temperature is best)
  • White vinegar
  • Two clean rags

How to do it:

  1. Firstly, combine equal parts water and white vinegar in a bowl (don’t worry if you run out of solution – you can make more as you go along).
  2. For the next step you’ll need to dip a clean rag into the solution. Remember to thoroughly wring it out before you add it to the leather, as excess liquid can damage the fabric.
  3. Wipe the sofa all over with the damp rag, working your way from top to bottom and moving in small, circular motions. After a few strokes, rinse the rag and start again.
  4. After you’ve covered the entire sofa with the solution, wipe the sofa dry with a clean, dry rag. Don’t attempt to use anything hot to dry the sofa, such as a hairdryer, as this will dehydrate the leather and cause wrinkling.

TOP TIP: If possible, use distilled water to clean your leather; tap water can sometimes contain chemicals which are harmful to leather.

Remove stains

Leather might be great for tackling liquid stains, but deep marks, such as those from ink and grease, are often the most difficult to shake out. Luckily, there are plenty of easy ways to erase unsightly marks from leather.

How to remove grease stains from leather

What you need:

  • Baking soda (or corn starch)
  • Clean cloth

How to do it:

  1. The best way to remove grease stains is to gently wipe them away as soon as they come into contact with the leather. However, if you notice them later down the line, don’t worry – simply sprinkle baking soda or corn starch directly on the stain.
  2. Let the powder sit on the stain for several hours (or overnight) to let it fully sink in. Once the time is up, gently brush away with a clean cloth – the grease will have soaked into the powder like a sponge!

TOP TIP: If you run out of baking soda and want a quick cleaning solution, don’t reach for the washing-up liquid - it can damage leather and is known to cause cracking and wrinkling.

How to remove ink stains from leather

What you need:

  • Cotton ball
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Damp cloth
  • Clean cloth

How to do it:

  1. Grab a cotton ball and dip it carefully into rubbing alcohol, making sure not to drench it.
  2. Gently rub the wet cotton ball over the ink stain until the ink visibly starts to lift from the fabric.
  3. Once all the ink is gone, dampen a clean rag with water and clean away any residue. Dry the treated surface with a clean rag to finish it off.

Condition the fabric

Now you’ve got a lovely clean sofa which looks (and smells) fab, the next thing you should do is give it some shine with a homemade deep conditioning treatment.

Pristine white leather sofa deep conditioned

What you need:

  • Lemon or tea tree oil (you can usually find these in health food stores)
  • White vinegar
  • Clean cloth

How to do it:

  1. Mix together around 10 drops of the oil, and add two cups of white vinegar in a bowl.
  2. Apply the solution to the sofa with a clean cloth, gently rubbing into the fabric in a circular motion.
  3. Leave to dry overnight – when you wake up, your leather will have a lovely sheen to it.
  4. For extra freshness in the coming days and weeks, grab a dry cloth and buff to restore shine.

TOP TIP: To keep your leather sofa looking tip-top, repeat the conditioning method every six to twelve months.

If you are unsure how to tackle a stubborn stain on your sofa, you may need to speak to a professional reupholsterer. Take a look at Plumbs reupholstery options to see how you can bring new life to old furniture.

 

Sally is the Digital Marketing Manager at Plumbs. Prior to Plumbs, she ran the digital marketing strategy for Johnson’s Cleaners UK. Her interests include home interiors and upcycling, and her favourite show to watch after work is Homes Under the Hammer. Some of the topics she covers on the Plumbs blog include sofa reupholstery and furniture protection.

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