How to Clean a Leather Couch: A Complete Guide

How to Clean a Leather Couch
Images /

How to Clean a Leather Couch: A Complete Guide‍

Cleaning a leather couch is essential to maintain its appearance and prolong its lifespan.

A clean leather couch adds style and elegance to your living room, but without proper cleaning and maintenance, it can quickly become dull and worn-out.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of cleaning a leather couch naturally, removing stains, deep cleaning, and conditioning.

Whether you have an aniline leather couch, semi-aniline leather, or protected leather, these cleaning methods will help you keep your couch looking new for years to come.

Understanding Leather Couches

How to Clean a Leather Couch
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Before diving into the cleaning process, it’s important to understand the different types of leather used in couches.

Leather is a natural material that undergoes a process called tanning to transform animal hides into durable and luxurious upholstery.

There are three main categories of leather used in couches: aniline leather, pigmented leather, and semi-aniline leather.

  1. Aniline Leather: Also known as unfinished leather, aniline leather showcases the natural look and texture of the animal hide. It is the most delicate and luxurious type of leather, as it lacks a polymer or pigment coating. Aniline leather couches require special care to prevent staining and damage.
  2. Pigmented Leather: Pigmented leather is treated with a polymer surface coating, making it more durable and resistant to fading, scuffing, and staining. This type of leather is commonly used in high-traffic areas and is easier to clean and maintain than aniline leather.
  3. Semi-Aniline Leather: Semi-aniline leather falls between aniline and pigmented leather. It is treated with a light pigmented surface coating, offering enhanced durability and a more consistent color. Semi-aniline leather strikes a balance between natural aesthetics and practicality.

Now that we have a better understanding of the different types of leather used in couches, let’s move on to the cleaning process itself.

Cleaning a Leather Couch Naturally

To clean a leather couch naturally, follow these general steps:

  1. Spot Stain Removal: For small stains, use a cloth or cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol or baking soda. Gently dab the stained area until the stain is lifted off. Pat the area dry with a soft cloth.
  2. Wiping Down the Entire Couch: To clean the entire leather couch, you can use vinegar or a mild liquid detergent. Mix one part vinegar or liquid detergent with four parts water. Dampen a clean cloth in the mixture and wipe down the surface of the couch. Be sure to wring out the cloth to avoid excessive moisture.
  3. Weekly Cleaning: Vacuum your leather couch regularly using a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment. This will remove crumbs, dirt, and other debris. After vacuuming, wipe down the couch with a slightly damp cloth to remove any remaining dust.

To make the cleaning process easier, consider using the following recommended cleaning tools:

  1. Shark Rocket Ultra-Light Hand Vacuum:
    This portable and lightweight vacuum is perfect for quick and efficient cleaning of your leather couch. It comes with a TruePet Mini Motorized Brush for handheld deep cleaning. The 15-foot power cord allows you to clean a whole room without the need for recharging.
    Click here to see it on Amazon.
  2. Dupray Multipurpose Heavy Duty Steamer:
    If you want to give your leather couch a deluxe cleaning treatment, a steam cleaner can be a great option. The Dupray Multipurpose Heavy Duty Steamer offers professional-grade cleaning power to remove dirt, stains, and even 99.9% of bacteria and viruses. Be cautious when using steam on leather to avoid damaging the material.
    Click here to see it on Amazon.
  3. BISSELL SpotClean ProHeat Portable Spot and Stain Carpet Cleaner:
    This all-in-one cleaning tool is perfect for removing tough stains from your leather couch. With its Heatwave Technology, it can effectively clean and deodorize your couch while maintaining an optimal temperature. Its self-cleaning capacity and portable size make it a valuable addition to your cleaning arsenal.
    Click here to see it on Amazon.

Removing Specific Stains from a Leather Couch

Different stains require specific cleaning methods to ensure effective removal without damaging the leather. Here are some common stain types and how to clean them:

Ink Stains

Ink stains on a leather couch should be treated immediately to prevent permanent damage. Here’s how to clean ink stains:

  1. Pour a small amount of rubbing alcohol onto a cotton ball.
  2. Lightly dab the ink stain until it is lifted off.
  3. Pat the area dry with a soft cloth.

Grease Stains

Grease stains can be stubborn and require special attention. Follow these steps to remove grease stains from your leather couch:

  1. Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda directly onto the stain.
  2. Let it sit for a couple of hours to absorb the oils.
  3. Wipe off the baking soda with a clean, soft cloth.

Steam Cleaning for Deep Cleaning

If your leather couch requires a deeper clean, steam cleaning can be an effective method. Here’s how to steam clean your leather couch:

  1. Acquire a steam cleaner suitable for upholstery cleaning. A portable upholstery steam cleaner or one available for rent from a local home improvement store will suffice.
  2. Remove all seating cushions, if possible.
  3. Prepare a mixture of hot water, white vinegar, and linseed oil. Dampen a cloth in the solution and wipe the entire surface of the couch. For aged or mildew-laden leather couches, wipe them down with rubbing alcohol.
  4. Allow the couch to air dry for at least one hour.
  5. Fill the steam cleaner with the recommended solution and perform a patch test to ensure it won’t damage the leather. Adjust the temperature control setting if available.
  6. Steam clean each section of the couch once or twice, starting with the back section and moving in a circular motion. Don’t forget to steam clean the inside portion.
  7. After steam cleaning, check for any damp areas and wipe them dry with a cloth.
  8. Allow the couch to dry thoroughly for a few hours, preferably with windows open for ventilation.

Deep Conditioning for Leather Couches

Deep conditioning helps keep your leather couch looking and feeling new. Follow these steps to deep condition your leather couch:

  1. Mix equal parts white vinegar and natural oil, such as flaxseed or lemon oil.
  2. Dip a soft, clean cloth into the vinegar and oil solution and wring out the excess.
  3. Use the damp cloth to wipe down the surface of the couch.
  4. Let it dry, and then wipe it with a clean, dry cloth the next day.

Remember to only deep condition your leather couch after thoroughly cleaning it and allowing it to dry completely.

Cleaning Faux Leather Couches

Cleaning a faux leather couch is similar to cleaning genuine leather, but with a few additional steps. Here’s how to clean a faux leather couch:

  1. Vacuum the couch to remove dirt and debris.
  2. Prepare a solution of warm water with a few drops of dishwashing liquid in a squirt bottle.
  3. Use a soft, clean towel or cloth to wipe down the faux leather couch, focusing on areas with stains. Use circular motions when wiping.
  4. Let it dry, and then condition the faux leather with a specific conditioner suitable for faux leather.

Quick Tips for Preventing Stains

Prevention is key to maintaining the durability of your leather couch and preventing stains. Follow these quick tips to keep your couch looking pristine:

  1. Clean accidental stains immediately to prevent them from seeping into the deeper layers of the leather. Baby wipes can be handy for cleaning small stains.
  2. Wipe down your leather couch with a clean cloth once a week to prevent dirt and stain buildup.
  3. Use a mild oil to condition the leather and restore softness and sheen.
  4. Limit the use of wet solutions to avoid water damage or stains on your leather couch.
  5. Always check the cleaning manual provided by the manufacturer for specific care instructions.

Also read: Sofa vs. Couch: What’s the Difference?


Cleaning a leather couch is a vital part of maintaining its appearance and prolonging its lifespan. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can keep your leather couch looking new and stylish for years to come.

Whether you have an aniline leather couch, pigmented leather, or semi-aniline leather, these cleaning methods will help you achieve excellent results.

Remember to use the recommended cleaning tools and follow the preventive tips to prevent stains and maintain the durability of your leather couch. With proper care and maintenance, your leather couch will continue to provide comfort and elegance in your living space for many years.

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