How to Clean Your Leather Furniture (Full Guide!)

Leather furniture is very easy to maintain, as long as you know how to look after it the right way. Your fabric sofas and chairs are prone to stains, spills, soiling, and can even eventually fade, sag and wrinkle. With a little bit of effort, this article will help make that new look of your leather furniture stay for a very long time.

How to Keep Your Leather Furniture Clean

You can’t protect the leather from wear and tear always – but you can give it a much longer and safer life by following just a few tips for its maintenance.

By following these tips, your leather furniture will remain as luxurious as when you first bought it.

Cleaning Supplies You Will be Needing

  1. Water, stored at room temperature
  2. A clean and soft washcloth or towel
  3. Saddle soap, or even a regular dish soap
  4. Leather cream and conditioner
  5. Rubbing alcohol
  6. Cotton swab

How to Clean Your Leather Items – Step by Step Guide

1. Wipe the surface of your leather couch or sofa with a washcloth dipped in soapy water. 

All you need is a spot-clean washcloth or a microfibre towel for this. Use the water you have to make a soapy water solution. Dip the cloth or towel in this soapy water and use it to gently rub and wipe the surface of your leather.

You can use several soap options to get soapy water. The best options are saddle soap or leather soap. However, for mild cleaning, even dish soap works fine.

Another good alternative is using leather wipes for this purpose. My personal favorite to-go leather wipes are Leather Care Wipes by Armor All.

2. In case your couch or sofa has a stubborn stain that won’t go away with a leather wipe or soapy towel, you can turn to rubbing alcohol.

For stains like ink and soil, rubbing alcohol can do a good job. All you need to do is gently rub a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol and wipe the required leather surface with it. 

Just make sure you wipe the cotton swab gently and only on the stained area so that the stains don’t spread out on the rest of the leather surface.

3. When you have wiped the surface clean, wipe it again but this time with a dry cloth or towel.

This is done to ensure that your leather couches, sofas, or chairs, whichever you are cleaning, is completely dry before it can be polished or conditioned.

It’s best to leave the furniture to dry overnight before you can proceed to the next despite, even if you have dried it with a cloth to the best of your extent.

4. The last step is to condition your leather furniture. All you have to do is gently apply a layer of leather cream or conditioner on its surface.

The main purpose of this cream is to keep the surface of your leather moist and supple to prevent it from drying out and cracking. 

You can purchase separate cream to polish your leather and then use a conditioner over it, but one product can do the same job just as well too.

If you like your leather furniture shiny, you can buff it at the very end as well.

Our favorite leather cleaning kit includes the Leather Cleaner and Leather Conditioner by Chemical Guys.

However, I highly recommend that you check with your furniture manufacturer and see which leather cleaning products they recommend you to use. Most manufacturers will let you know the exact products that will best suit your leather.

If you end up using the cream and conditioner of your choice on your leather furniture, you might end up voiding your warranty as well.

How Often to Clean Leather Furniture?

You don’t need to extensively clean your leather furniture now and then unless there’s a spill or some other stain that is standing out.

In case of stains, just clean the particular area with a soapy cloth or towel, or in worst cases, rubbing alcohol. When the stain is wiped off, dry the leather surface with a dry cloth.

If there are no stains and you’re just regularly cleaning the furniture to keep it fresh, then I recommend that you simply dry wipe or dust it weekly. 

Depending on how often you use the couch or sofa, and where it is placed, you should switch from simply dusting to a deeper cleaning with soapy water every once a month or two.

As for conditioning and polishing it properly with leather cream and conditioner, you are good to go as long as you do it once a year, or every 6 months for even better results.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to Clean Leather Furniture Naturally with Household Products?

You can simply use your regular dish soap to wipe clean any stains off your leather items.

Other common household products that you can use to clean more rigid stains include vinegar, olive oil, and baking soda.

One method is to use 1 part water and 1 part vinegar solution and use it to dampen a washcloth and rub over the stains gently. 

Another one is to make a solution of 1 part olive oil and 2 parts vinegar and put it in a spray bottle. This solution can then be sprayed and rubbed over any persistent stains.

Another method, which is more suitable for grease stains, is to take dry baking soda and just let it sit over the stains. The baking soda will absorb most of the grease in a few hours, depending on how big the stain is.

How to Clean Leather Furniture with Vinegar?

Like I already mentioned, vinegar is a great cleaning agent for your leather furniture.

You can either use a solution of equal parts water and vinegar or 1 part olive oil with 2 parts vinegar to wipe off any stubborn and old stains.

As long as you rub the solution gently on the surface with a soft cloth or microfibre towel, the vinegar will clean the leather surface and not harm its durability.

How to Remove Grease Stains From Leather Furniture?

The best way to clean grease or oil stains from your leather furniture is by using baking soda. 

Sprinkle some of the baking soda on the greasy spot on your leather, and let it sit for about 1-2 hours, depending on the size of the stain.

After a few hours, you can wipe it off, as the baking soda will have absorbed most of the grease and oil, cleaning your leather surface.

Other household alternatives for baking soda include using cornstarch or talcum powder the same way for the same purpose.

How to Clean Your Leather Furniture Before Dyeing?

It’s important to note that most of the leather furniture you may own has been sealed after being dyed to both protect the dye as well as the leather surface itself.

Therefore, any new dye will not adhere to its surface.

You have to clean and wash off the seals and any other related products for your furniture to be ready to be dyed again.

This can be done by cleaning the surface of your leather products with a clean cloth and a deglazer. I always use Professional Leather Preparer and Deglazer by Angelus when I have to dye my leather couches and sofas.

To further help you prepare it for dyeing, this video can help you out!

How to Clean Your Leather Furniture Dog Urine?

If your leather furniture has dog urine stains on it, the best way to get rid of them is by using a soapy solution to clean them.

Either use saddle soap or your regular dish soap to make a solution with water and rub it on the leather until lather can rinse the stain out.

How to Clean Your Leather Furniture that Smells?

Dog urine can often leave your leather furniture smelling unpleasant. But don’t worry, I know the solution to solve it!

All you have to do is add equal parts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Use this solution to spray it over the spot that smells, and a little bit all around it, and rub it in. Let the solution then dry on it.

How to Clean Your Leather Furniture with Murphy’s Oil Soap?

One of my favorite cleaning products is Murphy’s Oil Soap.

This is an American brand of cleaning products that are manufactured under Colgate-Palmolive. It’s suitable for cleaning a number of household products such as metal, wood, glass, plastic, etc. 

Surprisingly, it is just as good for cleaning leather furniture! All you have to do is apply the oil soap on the leather surface and work it over it for a while. In the end, just buff the leather with another clean cloth or microfiber towel.

For more step-by-step help, refer to this website.

I always like to keep some Murphy’s Oil Soap (aff link to Amazon) on my shelves because I can use it to clean multiple household items. 

Tips and Tricks

Here are a few other tips that can help your leather furniture remain luxurious forever!

  1. Always dye your leather furniture so that it can penetrate through the entire material. This is better than just sealing the surface with a color coating. This increases the durability of your leather sofas, etc.
  2. Place your leather furniture in a safe environment. Extreme weather and lack of moisture will cause the furniture to dry up and crack. Therefore, it’s best to not place your leather furniture in direct sunlight, near a window, under the air-conditioner, near radiators, a fireplace, etc.
  3. Regularly moisten your leather furniture by conditioning it once or twice a year. Use a manufacturer-recommended leather cream and conditioner for it.

Although you can normally use any good quality leather cleaning kit for it, it’s best to use the one that the leather furniture manufacturer asks you to use because they have already tested and tried it out.

If you’re trying out new products on it, it’s best to do a patch test in an invisible corner first.

  1. After a good cleaning session with soapy water, always remember to wipe it dry with a clean and dry washcloth. If the water is allowed to sit on it, it will leave a stain of its own.
  2. Never use harsh cleaning solvents for cleaning purposes. These include, but are not limited to, abrasive cleaners, oils, varnishes, ammonia water, etc.
  3. If a stain doesn’t come off despite an attempt or two at cleaning it off, you should turn to professional help instead of harming your leather furniture with more products.
  4. Although this should go almost unsaid, it’s best to keep your pets off your leather sofas and couches. 

Cats and dogs can sometimes urinate on your furniture. But more than that, they will often use it as their scratching post. In case of cuts and cracks, and even scratches on your leather furniture’s surface, you should ask for professional help.

Such a case doesn’t need a cleaning job but a proper repair that only a professional can undergo. Any leather care expert, even a leather shoe repairer can help you out.

Wrapping it Up

Leather furniture is easy to maintain, but that’s only if you do it the right way. With my help, you will be able to keep your leather sofas and chairs as fresh as ever!

Jelica Klapan

Full-time blogger and copywriter. Outside of work, I like to venture on California's finest hiking trails with my kids and our golden retriever Buddy. Doesn't get better than that!

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