Leather is a tricky fabric to clean. It has a lot of grooves and microscopic places that give it its unique texture. Leather couches can be particularly difficult because of all the tucks and folds that collect dust and soot.
Remember that leather by nature is a fabric that evolves over time. If your couch is heavily used then chances are it will discolor over time. With a good cleaning, though, you should be able to restore it to that million dollar shine it had when you first brought it home.
While it may seem counterintuitive, the first step to keeping a leather couch clean is regular vacuuming. Leather doesn’t need the same kind of vacuuming as a your carpet, of course, but vacuuming is the best way to keep the dust particles and other dirt from sinking into it. Vacuum your couch regularly to keep it free of contaminants.
A good vacuuming is also the first step to a deep cleaning. Anything loose enough to come off with some dry suction should be cleaned away so that you know what you are tackling after that. Be thorough by using your vacuum cleaner with its hose attachments and taking all the pieces of the couch apart to access the hidden areas. Vacuuming is important before a deep clean because if there is any dirt left when you start scrubbing, you could actually work that dirt into the fabric instead of getting it out.
Remember that leather is, in essence, a skin. Just like you take showers to keep your body clean, your leather couch needs a good soap scrubbing to free itself of discoloration and reveal its true color. Use a specialized leather soap or shampoo to make sure the fabric gets the care it needs to stay flexible and comfortable. We recommend a thinner liquid soap as opposed to a thicker paste that will be harder to manage.
Use a semi-soft plastic (do NOT use metal) scrubber to work the soap into the fabric and really dig out those ground in stains. You should be able to see the color of your couch restoring itself as you scrub. This will be the longest and possibly most painful process of cleaning your couch. Depending on how dirty it is and how clean you want it to be, you may need to use some real muscle here. Work through the cushions and couch body in small patches until you cover the entire thing.
At this point, you’ll start noticing that some parts of the couch are easy to scrub while others are difficult to reach. If you want a real like-new look to your couch then you should scrub into those nooks and crannies. You can reach them more easily with a toothbrush or other small scrubbing device that can fit places your larger scrubber does not. The more time and effort you spend scrubbing, the more revived your couch will appear.
Once you are done scrubbing the couch with a leather soap or shampoo then it is time to polish. Allow the leather to dry and fully soak in the benefits of the scrubbing it just got. You can also use this time to give your hands and arms a break! The last step is polishing your couch to keep it as clean as possible. Again, you will want to find a polish that is specific for leather.
Look for one that helps repel stains and sustain flexibility. This will help keep your couch clean and keep it from tearing, especially if it gets heavy usage by young children. Apply the polish liberally according to the package instructions. Some polishes will need to be brushed on and let to dry while others will need to be worked into the fabric more thoroughly. They even make some polishes in sprays now to make this process extra simple.
Again, don’t forget the little tucks and folds with your polish. Q-tips and makeup brushes are great for getting into the corners and edges to make sure your couch is as protected as possible.
Then, you’re done! Keep your couch clean with regular vacuuming and other general methods of cleaning and protection. Spot clean with soap and polish when you notice stains and patches of discoloration, especially on the seats and arm rests that get the most use. With routine maintenance, your couch shouldn’t need a deep cleaning more than once or twice a year.