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How to Clean and Condition a Leather Couch

Genuine leather furniture is an investment—and should be treated as such. Giving your leather sofa regular cleaning and conditioning treatments is one of the best ways of protecting your investment and it’s something you can do yourself with the proper products, techniques and a regular schedule.

Most leather cleaners and protectors are best used on full-finish leather, which is leather with a topcoat. If your leather looks and feels ‘raw’, it likely doesn’t have a topcoat—so it’s best to contact a professional for cleaning assistance. If your sofa is finished, however, you can spruce it up yourself.

The Best Cleaner for Leather Couches

There are plenty of leather cleaning products on the market. It’s best to stay clear of combination formulas that promise to knock out two steps in one. Two-in-one cleaner and protector products can seem appealing because of their ease of use, they’re not going to produce the same results that a two-part product will give you. In order to properly protect and condition a piece of leather, you must first clean it separately.

Combination cleaners simply move the dirt and other contaminants around the surface of the couch. This neither cleans nor protects your piece. So, when it comes to shopping for a leather couch cleaner, look for products labeled “professional grade”. These won’t be the lowest-priced product on the market, but it should give you a much better and longer-lasting result than cheaper two-in-ones.

The Method: How to Clean a Leather Couch

While calling in a professional is always the safer choice, you can DIY your way to a cleaner leather couch. Similar to maintaining a swimming pool or changing your car’s oil, if you’re up for the task, you can tackle leather furniture upkeep yourself. Make sure you’re truly cleaning your couch before you add on any protectant. When cleaning, you want to first test your product in an inconspicuous area and work away from direct sunlight, if possible. Once you’re confident that the cleaner will not remove any of the finish, spray generous amounts of the product onto a microfiber applicator and gently scrub the surface in an overlapping, circular motion. Make sure both your applicator and the surface are wet as you gently scrub to prevent damaging the material. Then, wipe everything dry with a lint-free cloth. After the furniture is clean and dry, it’s time for the second step, which is to apply the conditioner.

How to Condition Your Leather Couch

Test your leather conditioner on an out-of-the-way spot on your sofa before you apply it to the whole piece. Once you are in the clear, spray a generous amount of the product onto a lint-free microfiber cloth and spread it evenly on the couch’s surface, creating a thin layer. You should not wipe it dry when you’re done—instead, allow it to air dry. This is what creates that seal on the surface, which will help protect the couch from oil, water, dirt, food spills, and depending on the product you choose, UV rays, as well.

Never Steam Clean a Leather Couch

While steam cleaning may be an effective way to clean and sanitize several spaces in your home, you should keep your steamer far away from your leather couch. The heat of the steam can potentially flash out leather’s natural fats and oils, which can lead to premature aging of the material. This is what causes leather to dry out, which leads to cracking, peeling, and further deterioration.

If in Doubt or Have Questions, Call a Professional!

If you have questions about cleaning and maintaining your leather furniture at home, Fibrenew can help! Reach out to a Fibrenew leather restoration expert near you today.

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Meet the author

Jesse Johnstone

As the President of Fibrenew, I have the privilege of working with an exceptionally talented team at Head Office and in the field with our franchisees. Witnessing the achievements of our Franchise Partners in their businesses is a source of deep fulfillment and gratification.

See other posts by Jesse Johnstone