How to Clean a Leather Sofa

Whilst a leather sofa can bring the best out of any living room, many households avoid them for fear of expensive maintenance. In reality, however, a leather sofa seldom requires a professional to treat it, as long as it is regularly cleaned and kept away from potentially damaging materials.

To clean a leather sofa without having to resort to hiring a professional, all you need is a vacuum cleaner (with a brush attachment); at least four rags or cleaning cloths; two bowls or buckets; distilled water; mild liquid-based body soap with a low PH level; and a water-based leather conditioner, which can be purchased from most furniture suppliers.

Important Information

Leather varies from sofa to sofa, so always identify the type and read any product material that came with your sofa to determine if yours requires any specific cleaning products. If in doubt, contact the manufacturer or the dealer from whom you purchased the sofa. Other important things to bear in mind are:

  • There are many different types of leather – some react differently to chemicals and solutions, no matter how gentle they may seem. Always test any product or solution on an inconspicuous area of the leather prior to application. Some leather sofas, particularly older ones, can only be cleaned by professionals, particularly those which can easily become damaged by water.
  • Leather is porous so avoid spills! – any runs that occur while cleaning should be immediately wiped away to avoid staining and penetrating the surface of the sofa. The longer you leave a run before wiping it away, the harder it becomes to clean and the likelier it is to stain.
  • Abrasive materials and industrial chemicals are too harsh for leather – always stick to gentler solutions.
  • Avoid using baby wipes – even for removing small day-to-day spillages; they contain abrasive chemicals that may damage the lustre of the leather.

Cleaning a Leather Sofa, Step-by-Step

  • Thoroughly vacuum the sofa using the soft brush attachment; this reduces the likelihood of scratching the leather.
  • In one of the bowls or buckets, mix two pints of distilled water with several drops of the soap until suds begin to form.
  • To ensure the solution is safe for use on the leather, test on a small area of the sofa that is out of sight.
  • Soak one rag in the soapy solution and thoroughly wring it before use.
  • Wipe the surface of the sofa with the rag, methodically and one section at a time to ensure you don’t miss any areas.
  • Pour some clean distilled water into the second bowl or bucket, this time without soap. Dip a clean rag into the water and wring it thoroughly before wiping away all soap residue from the sofa.
  • Using a third rag (may require several), thoroughly dry the sofa.
  • Using a fourth rag, buff the entire surface of the sofa.
  • Treat the surface of the sofa with an environmentally-friendly leather conditioner, ensuring that you carefully follow the product’s instructions.

The best way to maintain the lustre of your leather sofa is to regularly dust and vacuum it. This not only maintains the overall cleanliness of the sofa (avoiding the need for such a deep clean), but also helps the leather to breath and improves its longevity.