How to clean leather sofas
To give yourself the best chance of getting rid of any stains, you should take action as soon as possible, before the stain has time to set into the leather.
Checking the sofa label
Always check the product label attached to your sofa. It’ll give you the lowdown on cleaning your sofa – here’s what the label lettering means:
W – use only water-based cleaning products.
SW or WS – you can use both water-based products and solvent cleaners; steam cleaning also works.
S or P – only use solvent products – this means dry clean only
X – you can’t use any products yourself, so you’ll need to get professionals to clean it for you.
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Pre-clean before you start on spills
Wipe your sofa down with a soft, dry cloth or grab your vacuum cleaner, using the soft brush attachment to avoid any scratches.
If your sofa label shows that you can do it yourself, gather your cleaning supplies. You’ll need at least two microfibre cloths – one for cleaning stains, and one for wiping the sofa dry – plus whatever cleaning product you’ll be using.
Choose your cleaning product
There’s plenty of ways to try and tackle your stain. Since leather is a natural material, the best way to clean leather is with gentle formulas. You might have a few useful products in your home already – so dig around in the back of the cupboard and report back. Just make sure to test it beforehand – apply it to a small, hidden spot first.
Light stains might disappear with soap and water – the simplest way to tackle the problem. Grab a bowl of warm, soapy water, or have some washing up liquid at hand. You can also use specific saddle soaps, although these can sometimes darken or harden the leather.
Pop your product onto a clean, damp cloth and gently rub the surface to get the stain out. Once you’re done, rinse out the cloth with clean water and wipe the remaining cleaning product off the stain. Then, use the second cloth to dry the surface.
Water and vinegar
Another pantry-friendly product? Mix a 1:1 solution of white vinegar and water. Dip a corner of a damp cloth into the solution and apply it to the stain in a circular motion. Once you’re done, rinse the cloth with clean water and clean the stain again.
This mix is also great if you want to regularly disinfect your sofa. Just pour the solution into an empty spray bottle and lightly spray your couch with it. Then just wipe it down with a damp cloth to get the remaining solution out, and pat with another dry cloth.
For things like ink stains and pen marks, try rubbing alcohol with a cotton swab. This should only be done on treated leather, as it’s a harsher liquid – you don’t want to ruin the fabric.
Lightly dip the tip of the swab into the alcohol and dab the stain with it. Make sure to be careful when doing so – alcohol dilutes ink and you want to avoid spreading it even more. Alcohol tends to dry leather out, so make sure to work quickly. When you’re finished, pat the area with a soft, dry cloth to remove any extra alcohol.
To get fresh grease stains out of the sofa, you can do a few things. You need something to absorb as much grease as possible – try talcum powder, corn starch, flour or baking soda and sprinkle it over the area. Leave it for a few hours (or even overnight) to let the powder absorb the grease. Once it looks saturated, you can wipe the powder away with a dry cloth.
If the stain isn't completely removed, you can try professional leather cleaning products. They'll come with their own instructions, but the process should be the same. Never use water to clean grease stains – the mixture of water and grease spreads the stain even more.
Let it dry properly
Before giving your leather sofa a nice polish with professional care products, make sure it’s completely dry. We’d leave it overnight.
Apply the leather conditioner
Grab a clean, dry cloth and work the leather cream into your sofa. If you’re into the natural stuff, you can make a 1:1 mixture of white vinegar and some natural oils like flaxseed or lemon