Using a homemade leather couch cleaner is a simple way to keep leather furniture looking new.
Leather is a durable, comfortable material, making it a luxurious choice for sofas and chairs. While everyone loves the feel and texture of leather, it requires special care.
Leather is a little different from materials such as cotton, suede, vinyl, and polyester.
Like your skin, leather requires moisturizer to look its best. It also needs weekly cleaning to help remove dust and stains.
When you find a stain, specific steps are needed to prevent making the problem worse. If you apply the wrong solution, you may spread the stain out or cause fraying and wear.
To avoid these problems, follow the best solutions for conditioning a leather couch naturally and removing stains.
Weekly Cleaning for Leather Couches
The first step in naturally protecting your leather couch is to clean it each week. This is a basic step that should only take a few minutes:
- Start with a vacuum cleaner to get in the cracks and corners of the couch. Use a brush attachment with soft bristles to avoid damaging the fabric.
- After vacuuming, use a dry cloth to wipe the entire surface of the couch. A soft microfiber cloth works best. It is not abrasive and easily catches dust.
- Inspect the condition of the couch. You may come across stains or small water spots. Treat these spots immediately, as it becomes harder to remove stains when they set for too long.
Besides searching for stains, you should also check the condition of the leather. If the couch feels stiff in spots, it likely needs conditioning.
Monthly Conditioning for Leather Furniture
Condition the leather at least once per month or when the material starts to stiffen. Moisturizing leather helps keep it supple and reduces the risk of cracking.
Store-Bought Leather Conditioners
There are special leather conditioners available, saving you the trouble of needing to mix your own. The Leather Honey Leather Conditioner comes in an eight-ounce bottle and includes natural ingredients for softening and moisturizing the upholstery.
With this conditioner, you may only need to treat the couch once every six months. It penetrates deeply to rejuvenate the leather.
Weiman Leather Cleaner & Conditioner is another option. It comes in a spray bottle, making it a little easier to apply. It also requires more frequent use, applying about once per month to protect the leather surface.
Homemade Leather Conditioner
While these products are safe to use on leather furniture, there are also homemade conditioners. The most used recipe simply requires the following:
- White vinegar
- Oil (flaxseed oil, coconut oil, or linseed oil)
- A jar or sealable container
The vinegar helps dilute the oil while also breaking down minor stains. Combine one part vinegar to two parts oil. Place the ingredients in a jar or sealable container and shake well before applying.
Natural baby soap and beeswax may also be used as leather conditioners. To use natural baby soap, mix one tablespoon with a quart of warm water and a few drops of vinegar.
To use beeswax, combine one-part beeswax with one-part cocoa butter and two parts sweet almond oil. Heat the mixture in a saucepan until the ingredients melt. Remove from heat and allow to cool while stirring occasionally. After about two hours, you should have a thick conditioner.
No matter which conditioner you create, dip a rag into the mixture and begin applying to the couch. Start in one corner and work your way to the other side.
Gently rub the mixture into the leather, allowing it to penetrate the pores of the upholstery. After you finish rubbing down the leather, let the conditioner sit for at least 12 hours.
Use a dry microfiber cloth to begin buffing the couch. As you buff, the cloth will become saturated. You may need to occasionally replace the cloth.
Homemade Stain Removal Solutions for Leather Couches
Besides conditioning, you will need to deal with occasional stains. You may spill coffee on the couch or drop a pen. There are also stains that naturally appear over time, such as water spots or drool spots from pets or kids.
Before using any homemade stain remover, test the mixture on an out of the way spot. You could set the couch on its back and apply a small dab to an area on the underside of the couch where the upholstery is stapled to the frame.
Starting with a test spot allows you to determine if the mixture is harmful to the leather. Some ingredients may lighten the material or cause excessive wear.
You should then consider the type of stain that you are dealing with:
- Grease stains
- Ink stains
- Salt stains
- Coffee and tea stains
- Red wine stains
- Clear liquid
When using these homemade solutions, avoid saturating the leather. While adding more liquid can help dilute stains on other materials, it can damage the cushioning underneath the leather and increase the risk of mold or mildew.
Spilled food leaves grease stains. Hair and even skin can also leave greasy spots on leather furniture. The best way to deal with grease on leather is to blot it as much as you can.
Use a clean cloth to blot the grease and then gently wipe it with a damp cloth. If the stain remains, use a homemade leather conditioner to clean the spot. Rub the conditioner with a clean cloth until dry.
After completing these two steps, if the stain remains, sprinkle baking soda or cornstarch over the spot. Allow the ingredient to sit for a few hours before wiping clean.
There are several natural remedies for dealing with ink stains. You can use hairspray, eucalyptus oil, or rubbing alcohol.
To use hairspray, spray the stain lightly. Wait about one minute and then wipe the stain with a dry cloth or paper towel.
If the hairspray does not work, use a cotton swab or ball to apply eucalyptus oil to the leather. Rub the oil into the leather until the ink starts to smear. Use a dry cloth to wipe it clean.
A cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol may also be used. Just make sure that you avoid soaking the leather, as it may affect the dye.
Salt stains are often a problem if you trail sidewalk salt inside during the winter. Use equal parts water and white vinegar to create a simple solution for removing the salt. This same homemade stain remover can be used on shoes as well.
Coffee and Tea Stains
Water and white vinegar may also be used for coffee and tea stains. However, you should first blot up the excess liquid with a damp cloth.
Red Wine Stains
Red wine stains are challenging to remove from leather. First, soak up the excess wine with a clean cloth. Next, soak a sponge in your homemade leather conditioner and squeeze so that it is damp.
Wipe the stain with the sponge and then use a clean cloth to dab the spot until dry. Repeat multiple times to get rid of the stain.
Clear Liquid and General Spots
For any remaining stains, try using a mixture containing equal parts lemon juice and cream of tartar. Mix until you have a paste and then apply to the spots with a soft cloth.
If the stain does not immediately lift, allow the paste to sit for several hours before wiping.
Additional Homemade Stain Removers for Leather
If you have a mystery spot and do not know how to get rid of it, there are additional household items that may help break down the stain, making it easier to lift from the leather. These items include:
- White toothpaste
- Nail polish remover (non-acetone)
- Hair spray
When applying these substances, remember to start with a small test spot. If it does not damage the leather, apply it to the stain using a cotton swab or cotton ball. If trying hair spray, spray an area of the couch and then use a cotton ball to rub the stain out.
If the stain begins to smear without lifting, stop using the substance and wipe clean with a dry cloth. Try using rubbing alcohol or vinegar to remove as much of the stain as possible or consider taking it to a professional cleaner.
DIY Removing Food and Chewy Substances From Leather
Besides stains, you may find remnants of sticky food on the leather sofa. Chewing gum, candy, and candle wax may get stuck to the leather without creating a stain, but trying to remove them could damage the material.
To remove sticky foods, set an ice bag on the couch. Place a handful of ice cubes in a sealable plastic bag and chill the food until it hardens. You should then be able to chip away the food with your fingers or the bottom of a plastic spoon.
After removing the food debris, you may still need to clean the spot with dish soap or rubbing alcohol.
If freezing the sticky substance does not work, Goo Gone Pro-Power Spray Gel may work. It is safe to use on leather if you avoid using too much. You simply spray a small amount, let it sit for a few minutes, and then wipe it off with a clean cloth.
More on Protecting Leather Furniture
If you want to enjoy the comfort of a real leather sofa, you should take the time to maintain the upholstery.
Occasional cleaning is needed to remove oils, dirt, and debris. You should perform weekly cleaning and monthly conditioning to keep the couch supple and soft.
There are also specific steps to follow for removing stains from leather furniture without causing further damage. Make sure that you treat spills immediately to reduce the risk of permanent stains.
These steps should help your leather couch last for many years without showing major signs of distress.