A leather couch is a central piece of furniture in many lounge rooms. And though sturdier than some fabric sofas, the leather material isn’t entirely indestructible and should be well-cared for and regularly cleaned. We’ve got the top tips for keeping your leather sofa clean.
Genuine leather is a natural product. It’s similar to our skin in many ways: sometimes it’s sensitive to environmental influences and over time it loses elasticity, moisture, and fat. We have to give all of this back to the material by properly caring for leather couches and other pieces of leather furniture. For best results, it’s recommended to wipe your leather sofa once a week and give it a deeper clean once or twice a year. You can make cleaning your leather sofa part of your weekly cleaning plan. This way, dirt won’t be able to accumulate in the first place.
Different types of leather have different cleaning and care requirements:
- Smooth leather: You can simply wipe off crumbs and loose dust with a soft duster. For more stubborn dirt, stains or if you want to treat discoloured areas on a white leather couch, you can dissolve some curd soap in warm water and wipe the sofa with the solution. Use distilled water to avoid limescale stains on the furniture.
- Important: Always check whether your smooth leather couch is coated and washable or not. This information should be found either in the manufacturer's manual or you can test whether water is absorbed by the sofa or not on a hidden patch. If the water runs off, use the soapy water very sparingly - cleaning professionals call the degree of proper moisture “slightly damp”. After you've wiped the leather sofa with the soapy water, wipe it again using a damp cloth and some clean water. Finally, use a dry cloth to absorb as much moisture as possible.
- Suede: You can vacuum this type of leather and/or remove loose dust and dirt with a furniture brush. Nubuck and suede are easy to brush using a rubber brush. You can remove stubborn dirt by cleaning the leather sofa with a little bit of soapy water. Again, you should use distilled water and rub very gently. That’s because the friction can rub off rough bits of leather and smoothen entire areas. The leather may also change colour when brushed too heavily. Dried stains on suede can be carefully removed using fine sandpaper or a nail file.
Once the leather couch has been thoroughly cleaned, caring for your leather couch is primarily about returning moisture and greasing the material. This ensures that the suppleness of the leather is retained and smooth types of leather keep their shine. There are different leather care products available in store for different types of leather.
If you prefer to make your own natural polish for your smooth leather sofa, mix 300 ml of linseed oil with vinegar and then wipe the couch with it. For the care of smooth leather, some professionals also recommend the use of body lotion (to moisturise) and egg whites (to add shine). But before you apply your homemade care products, it’s best to test them out on an inconspicuous patch.
By the way, wet wiping doesn’t just clean your sofa, but also moisturises it. This makes it an important step for good leather couch maintenance.
Aside from good cleaning and care, you can follow these tips to get the most out of your leather sofa long-term:
- Check the temperature indoors. The air should neither be too dry nor too humid. Around 45–50 percent humidity at a room temperature of around 18–20 °C is considered optimal for leather sofas.
- Avoid waterlogging. You may know this from your indoor plants, but leather doesn't like excessive moisture either. So when you spill water or another liquid on the sofa, dry the leather off as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
- Choose a shady location. Another plant term, but leather doesn't like direct artificial or sunlight. Under direct light, the leather will fade or become very dry over time.
- Put it far away from the radiator. The distance between a leather couch and a radiator should be at least 30 cm so that the leather doesn’t dry out. If that’s not feasible, try to ensure that the couch has sufficient ground clearance so that the heat doesn't build up underneath it.