The Stress-Free Way To Clean a Leather Couch

So you can spend more time relaxing on it.

Is there anything better than a leather couch? They’re statement pieces of the home that look, feel, and smell amazing — and you want to keep it that way. But we all have that friend, right? The one who’s always spilling things? No matter how careful you are, accidents will happen. Take a deep breath. We’ve got you covered with all you need for stress-free cleaning — and maintenance — of your leather couch. With this step-by-step guide and helpful hacks for tackling hard-to-deal-with stains, you’ll be relaxing on your couch, not worrying about it.

How to clean a leather couch

Here’s the first bit of good news: you likely already have everything you need to give your leather couch a good scrub down. Gather these materials before getting started:

  • Microfiber cloths
  • Gentle dish soap, such as Dawn
  • Bowl of warm water
  • Baking soda

Step 1: Dry run and spot check

Using your dry microfiber cloth, give your couch a once-over. This will help remove any lingering dust, and dislodge any crumbs or particles that may have gotten caught in the nooks and crannies. While doing this, pay careful attention to any stains that will need attention later on.

Step 2: Vacuum

Using the hose attachment, vacuum up any dust and crumbs from your dry run. If your cushions are removable, be sure to pull them — the real crumb treasures — and probably some loose change and a remote — are always hiding out in the undersides of the couch.

Step 3: Wipe down and dry

Here’s your secret weapon to get your couch in tip-top shape: a few drops of dish soap mixed in a bowl of warm water. Dip your microfiber cleaning cloth into the bowl and ring it out well. You don’t want it sopping wet.

Starting in the top corner of the couch, wipe down the entire surface. If you find a stain, buff it out by gently moving in a circular motion. Don’t wipe back and forth, as this can cause uneven wear and tear on the leather surface.

When you’ve covered the whole couch, dry it well by using a clean microfiber cloth or towel. Don’t skip this step: water can weaken the leather’s surface if left to dry on its own.

Step 4: Finish with conditioner

Just like lotion keeps your skin soft and healthy, leather conditioner does the same for your couch. There are plenty of choices available, in both sprays and bottles. These conditioners contain natural oils that will leave your couch looking and smelling amazing.

Consult your manufacturer’s guidelines for specifics (and to ensure you maintain the couch’s warranty), but application will be the same: add a small amount to a microfiber cloth, then gently buff it into the couch using a circular hand motion. Then, allow it to dry thoroughly (at least two hours) before sitting.

First time conditioning your couch? Be sure to try it on an out-of-the-way spot first and ensure color and consistency of the couch are not compromised.

How often to clean a leather couch

How frequently you clean your leather couch will be based on how often it gets used — and whether or not you eat on it. No matter how careful you are, crumbs will find their way off the plate and onto the couch — you can bet on it as sure as you sit on it.

We recommend at least a weekly dry-dust of your couch with a microfiber cloth (step 1 above). Add vacuuming your couch (step 2) to your regular living room cleaning rhythm to catch any crumbs or dust before things get out of hand. Just assume, when you’re cleaning other couches in your home, the leather couch is getting a once-over too.

Deep cleaning the couch (step 3) should be done about once a month. When you spot a stain, deal with it as quickly as possible. Failing to do so could allow the stain to settle into the leather, requiring more extensive cleaning to remove.

Conditioning your couch (step 4) should be done following the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Maintaining your leather couch

With proper maintenance and care, your leather couch can be a staple of your home for years to come. Alongside regular cleaning and conditioning, these seven hacks can help extend your couch’s lifespan:

  • Keep away from the sun Nothing will shorten the life of your leather couch like placing it in front of a huge window. Too much sun will not only cause the color to fade, but it can dry out the natural oils present in the leather, causing your couch to stiffen and crack. When choosing the perfect spot for your couch, make sure it's in the shade.

  • Regulate temperature swings Extremes in temperature can also prematurely age your leather couch. Be sure not to place it in areas that expose it to extreme cold (like in front of a window unit air conditioner) or extreme heat (in front of a fireplace or radiator).

  • Train your pets The biggest threat to your leather couch might not be your clumsy friends, but your furry ones. Cats, especially, are attracted to leather as a scratching post. Keeping an eye on your pets, and diligently training them, will ensure your couch doesn’t end up with claw marks… or worse.

  • Removing grease stains from your couch Dropped a piece of pizza on your leather couch? We can do something about that. Sprinkle baking soda on the stain, and allow it to absorb the grease over the course of 2–3 hours. Then, wipe the set-in baking soda away with a dry cloth. Follow up with a slightly damp cloth to remove any remaining excess baking soda. Repeat for pesky stains.

  • Removing ink stains from your couch Never fear, we’re not scared of a little ink. Apply some rubbing alcohol to a cotton ball, then dab the spot until the stain begins to lift. (Don’t rub, as that can spread the ink further.) When the stain looks to be removed, wipe the spot down with a dry cloth.

  • Removing sticky substances (like gum) from your couch For sticky substances, the key is to bring the temperature down. As that drops, the substance will harden, allowing you to flake it off without lasting damage to your couch. If you find a piece of gum on your coach, for example, throw a few ice cubes into a plastic bag and hold it on the gum until it begins to harden. Then, using a blunted object (like your fingernail, a credit card, or a small spoon), chip away at the substance until it’s completely removed.

  • Enjoy it! The most important tip to maintaining your couch: use it! Invite friends over. Cuddle with the dog. Watch a movie — with popcorn and wine! Your couch should be a connecting point with others, a relaxing place for you, and yes, sometimes even a dinner table. Rather than stressing over perfect maintenance, put your leather couch to good use — and when accidents happen, we’ll be here to help you know just what to do.

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