How to clean a well-loved leather sofa

Leather sofas are tough enough to handle crumbling cookies and spurting sandwiches – here's how to give them some TLC

How To Clean Leather Sofa

Leather sofas certainly stand out. They’re stylish and practical, and if you’ve got one, it’s probably your pride and joy. But cleaning a leather sofa – especially cleaning a white leather sofa – can seem like a daunting task. There will always be that nagging doubt: what if I use the wrong product and ruin it?

Most furniture manufacturers will tell you that leather sofas should be given a thorough clean 2-4 times a year – more often if they’re heavily used. Luckily, it’s not hard to learn how to clean a leather sofa, whether it’s a thorough wipe-down or a quick spot-clean with a piece of kitchen paper. This guide is here to tell you everything you need to know.

How to clean a leather sofa: regular maintenance

  1. Sofas are crumb-magnets (crumbled crisps feature particularly regularly), so to start cleaning a leather sofa, go over it with a vacuum cleaner, using a soft brush attachment to make sure all the crumbs are removed from the crevices. Vacuuming is particularly important when cleaning a white leather sofa – if dust and grime get rubbed into the leather, it could dull or change the colour.
  2. Next, you’ll need a cleaning product. You can easily make your own leather sofa cleaning solution by mixing equal parts water and white vinegar. If you’re using a commercial leather cleaner, be sure to follow the instructions carefully to avoid damaging your sofa.
  3. To apply the cleaner, take a strong, absorbent Plenty kitchen paper and dip it in your solution. Squeeze it out so it’s damp, rather than soaking wet, and wipe all the leather surfaces thoroughly, rinsing your cloth in the cleaning solution every so often.

Finally, you’ll need to dry the sofa off using a clean towel. And that’s it! Time to put your feet up.

Spot cleaning a leather sofa

Of course, accidents happen: a horror movie takes a turn and your dinner gets spilt, or an uncapped marker pen rolls under a sofa cushion. But don’t panic – it’s not hard to learn how to clean leather sofa stains before they set in. Here are a few tips to try:

  • If a runaway pen with the cap left off has left streaks, you can remove permanent marker from leather by spraying it with an aerosol hairspray and wiping it away with a piece of kitchen paper – choose one that’s strong enough for scrubbing, like Plenty. Most other ink stains will come off with a careful application of surgical spirit.
  • Spilled something oily? Sprinkle some baking soda over the stain to absorb the grease. Leave it there for a couple of hours, then wipe or vacuum it away.
  • Baking soda is also great if you’re cleaning a white leather sofa that has a dark stain on it: mix it into a paste with an equal amount of lemon juice, rub it onto the stain, let it act for about 10 minutes, then wipe it away with a piece of strong, absorbent kitchen paper.
  • Baby wipes and acetone-free nail polish removers can also be used on some leather. As with all cleaning experiments, be sure to do a patch test somewhere invisible, like a corner at the back – that way, it’s not a problem if the leather reacts.


To deal with spills quickly, keep a roll of kitchen paper nearby, so you can grab and wipe before the liquid has time to sink into the leather sofa’s stitching. Plenty Handy Towels are easy to pick up in convenient single sheets from an easy dispensing pack.

Wipes and nail polish removers can be great for small stains. However, when you’re doing a full maintenance clean, it’s best to use a product that’s designed to be used on leather. Your furniture supplier should be able to recommend one that’s just right.

Now you know the best way to clean a leather sofa. You’ll also have noticed it’s easy as anything, so why not volunteer to do it next time the chores get handed out? The best part is that once you’re done, you never have to go far to find a seat.

Did you find this article helpful?Thanks for your feedback!