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How to Clean a Leather Couch

How to clean a leather couch

A leather couch is a central piece of furniture in many living rooms. Though sturdier than some fabric sofas, the leather material isn’t entirely indestructible. It should be well cared for and cleaned regularly. We’ve got the top tips for proper leather couch maintenance.

The basics about leather couch care

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. Properly caring for leather couches and other pieces of leather furniture helps restore life back to the material. For leather couch care products to be effective, the sofa must be clean. 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 furniture part of your weekly cleaning routine. This way, dirt won’t be able to accumulate in the first place.

Cleaning the leather couch: It’s all about the material

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 discolored areas on a white leather couch, you can dissolve some 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 or not by the sofa 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. A rubber brush is easy to use on nubuck and suede. You can remove stubborn dirt by cleaning the 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 smooth entire areas. The leather may also change color when brushed too heavily. Dried stains on suede can be carefully removed using fine sandpaper or a nail file.

The right leather care for your sofa

Once the couch has been thoroughly cleaned, leather couch care is primarily about returning moisture and conditioning the material. This ensures that the suppleness of the leather is retained and helps smooth types of leather keep their shine. There are different leather care products available in stores for different types of leather. We suggest using a leather care product that has been recommended by your sofa manufacturer to ensure that the wet wiping solution is right for your furniture.

By the way, wet wiping doesn’t just clean your sofa, but also moisturizes it. This makes it an important step for good leather couch maintenance. 

Preventive leather care tips

Aside from good cleaning and care, you can follow these tips to get the most out of your leather sofa long-term:

  1. 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 68 degrees Fahrenheit is considered optimal for leather sofas.
  2. Avoid waterlogging. You may know this from your indoor plants, but leather doesn't like excessive moisture either. When you spill water or another liquid on the sofa, dry the leather off as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
  3. Choose a shady location. Another plant term, but leather doesn't like direct sunlight, whether it’s natural or artificial. Under direct light, the leather could fade or become very dry over time.
  4. Put it far away from the radiator. The leather couch and radiator should be at least one foot apart to keep the leather from drying out. If that’s not feasible, at least try to ensure that the couch has sufficient ground clearance so that the heat doesn't build up underneath it.