If you want to know how to clean leather couches, look no further.

Leather couches exude elegance and sophistication, making them a popular choice for many homeowners. However, to maintain their luxurious appeal, regular cleaning and proper care are essential. Cleaning leather couches might seem like a daunting task, but with the right techniques and a bit of know-how, you can keep your leather furniture looking as good as new. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the step-by-step process of cleaning leather couches, tackling common stains, and providing essential tips for long-term care.

Understanding Leather

Before delving into the cleaning process, it’s crucial to understand the type of leather your couch is made from. There are different types of leather, such as full-grain, top-grain, corrected-grain, and bonded leather. Each type has its unique characteristics and requires specific cleaning methods. Full-grain leather, for instance, is the highest quality and requires gentle cleaning, while corrected-grain leather has an added protective layer, making it more resistant to stains.

Tools and Materials

Gathering the right tools and materials is the first step towards cleaning your leather couch effectively. Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. Soft, lint-free cloths: Microfiber cloths or old cotton T-shirts work well to avoid scratching the leather surface.
  2. Leather cleaner: Choose a pH-balanced, water-based leather cleaner specifically designed for your type of leather. Avoid using harsh chemicals or household cleaning products, as they can damage the leather.
  3. Leather conditioner: A good-quality leather conditioner keeps the leather supple and prevents it from drying out or cracking.
  4. Distilled water: Distilled water ensures that no impurities or minerals interfere with the cleaning process.
  5. White vinegar: White vinegar is effective for removing stubborn stains and odors.
  6. Soft-bristled brush: A soft brush, such as a toothbrush or an upholstery brush, can help gently lift dirt and debris from crevices.
  7. Absorbent paper towels: Paper towels are handy for blotting spills and stains.
  8. Protective gloves: Wearing gloves protects your hands from chemicals and ensures a hygienic cleaning process.

How To Clean Leather Couches: Step-by-Step Cleaning Process

How to clean leather couches

Step 1: Dusting and Vacuuming

Begin by removing loose dirt and debris from the leather surface. Use a soft brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner to gently sweep away dust from creases and seams. This step prevents abrasive particles from scratching the leather during the cleaning process.

Step 2: Testing the Cleaner

Before applying any cleaner to the entire couch, test it on a small, inconspicuous area to ensure it doesn’t cause discoloration or damage. This step is crucial, especially if you’re using a new cleaning product.

Step 3: Cleaning the Leather

  1. Dampen a cloth: Moisten a soft cloth with distilled water and gently wipe down the entire leather surface. Avoid soaking the leather, as excessive moisture can damage it.
  2. Apply the leather cleaner: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to apply the leather cleaner to another clean, damp cloth. Work in small sections, gently rubbing the cleaner onto the leather using circular motions. Ensure even application and focus on stained or soiled areas.
  3. Wipe off excess cleaner: After cleaning, use a dry, clean cloth to wipe off any excess cleaner from the leather surface. Make sure there’s no residue left behind.

Step 4: Tackling Stains

Leather couches are susceptible to various stains, including ink, grease, and food. Here’s how to deal with some common stains:

  1. Ink stains: Dab a cotton swab or cloth with a small amount of rubbing alcohol and gently blot the ink stain. Do not rub, as it can spread the ink. Once the ink is lifted, clean the area with a leather cleaner and conditioner.
  2. Grease stains: Sprinkle talcum powder or cornstarch over the grease stain and let it sit for a few hours to absorb the grease. Afterward, gently brush off the powder and clean the area with a leather cleaner.
  3. Food and liquid stains: Blot the stain immediately with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture. Avoid rubbing, as it can spread the stain. Mix equal parts water and white vinegar, dampen a cloth with the solution, and gently blot the stain until it lifts. Clean the area with a leather cleaner and conditioner afterward.

Step 5: Conditioning the Leather

Leather, like your skin, requires moisturization to stay supple and prevent cracks. Apply a high-quality leather conditioner using a soft, clean cloth. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and focus on areas that are more exposed to wear and tear, such as seat cushions and armrests. Conditioning your leather couch regularly (every 6 to 12 months) maintains its natural oils, ensuring longevity and a luxurious feel.

Essential Tips for Leather Couch Care

  1. Protect from sunlight: Direct sunlight can cause leather to fade and lose its luster. Place your leather couch away from windows or use curtains and blinds to shield it from sunlight.
  2. Avoid sharp objects: Keep sharp objects away from your leather couch to prevent scratches. Be cautious with pets, especially cats, whose claws can easily damage the leather.
  3. Regularly fluff and rotate cushions: If your leather couch has removable cushions, fluff them regularly and rotate them to distribute wear evenly.
  4. Clean up spills promptly: Accidents happen, so it’s essential to clean up spills immediately to prevent stains. Blot the spill with a paper towel and clean the area with a damp cloth and leather cleaner.
  5. Use a leather protector: Consider using a leather protector spray or cream to create a barrier against spills and stains. Always test the product on a small area first to ensure compatibility with your leather.
  6. Professional cleaning: If your leather couch requires deep cleaning or has stubborn stains, consider hiring a professional leather cleaning service. Professionals have the expertise and specialized equipment to handle challenging cleaning tasks effectively.

Products You Can Buy

In South Africa, you can find a wide variety of cleaning products specifically designed for leather couches. Some popular brands and products available in South Africa include:

  1. Mr Min Leather Polish: This product is specifically formulated for cleaning and polishing leather surfaces, including leather couches. It helps nourish the leather while protecting it from stains and spills.
  2. Meguiar’s Gold Class Rich Leather Cleaner & Conditioner: Meguiar’s is a well-known international brand, and their leather cleaner and conditioner is widely available in South Africa. It cleans, conditions, and protects leather surfaces, leaving a natural, soft feel.
  3. Chemico Leather Cream: Chemico offers a range of leather care products, including leather cream that cleans, conditions, and protects leather furniture. It helps restore the natural beauty of the leather while providing long-lasting protection.
  4. Autoglym Leather Cleaner: Autoglym is a trusted brand in car care products, and their leather cleaner is suitable for use on leather couches as well. It effectively cleans and freshens up the leather, leaving a pleasant scent.
  5. Nourish Leather Cleaner & Conditioner: Nourish offers a gentle and effective leather cleaner and conditioner that can be used on various leather surfaces, including couches. It helps maintain the leather’s suppleness and natural shine.
  6. Bee Natural Leathercare: Bee Natural offers a range of leather care products made with natural ingredients. Their leather cleaner and conditioner are suitable for cleaning and conditioning leather couches, providing a safe and eco-friendly option.
  7. Leather Honey Leather Cleaner: Leather Honey is a renowned brand for leather care products. Their leather cleaner is designed to remove dirt, grime, and stains from leather surfaces, restoring the leather’s original beauty.

When purchasing leather cleaning products, ensure that you choose a product suitable for your specific type of leather (full-grain, top-grain, corrected-grain, etc.) and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results. These products are typically available in supermarkets, department stores, home improvement stores, and online marketplaces in South Africa.


Cleaning leather couches might seem like a meticulous task, but with the right tools, techniques, and regular care, you can preserve their beauty for years to come. By following the steps outlined in this guide and incorporating the essential tips for leather couch care, you can enjoy the elegance and comfort of your leather furniture while ensuring its longevity. Remember, a well-maintained leather couch not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of your home but also reflects your commitment to quality and style.

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