How to clean a leather sofa

A leather sofa is undoubtedly something special, and is particularly popular in light colours such as white and ivory. There are some tips for its cleaning and maintenance to keep it as beautiful as ever. Leather is a natural material and requires special attention to prevent it from deteriorating with age, just like our own skin.

How many of you are in difficulty when cleaning leather sofas?

A recent survey on our social network channels shows that 80% of people do not know how to clean a leather sofa, that is to say they do not know which products are suitable or how often to clean the leather.

Many of you will have this type of upholstery in white or ivory, colours which show up day to day soiling even more. If not suitably cleaned and protected, such light colours tend to turn yellow, whereas the enemy of dark colours is dust.

Online there are lists of ‘do it yourself remedies’, also known as granny’s home remedies (using milk, bicarbonate or whatever). If you wish to rely on these we recommend in any case testing on a hidden part of the sofa. Some remedies may be effective, but others are potentially dangerous for your sofa’s upholstery. This is because every type of leather is treated and the surface finished in different ways, so the reaction to the type of product used for cleaning is different.

Without improvising, considering that your leather sofa is an important purchase and must last over time, on these pages we wish to explain the best practices in a simple guide for cleaning and maintaining leather upholstered sofas.


Useful tips for cleaning leather upholstered sofas
Our leather cleaning kit.

Useful tips for cleaning leather upholstered sofas

Doimo Salotti provides a cleaning and maintenance kit with each new leather upholstered sofa. The leather cleaning kit must not be confused with the one for Nubuck leather, which is different and specifically for suede.

  • Take great care to use the right cleaning kit: the instructions on this page are suitable for all kinds of leather except suede and Nubuck.

The leather cleaning kit comprises two products: a leather cleaner and a leather protector, both suitable for leather upholstery. They are both water-based.

1. Before vacuum the sofas.

Before applying the leather cleaning product, vacuum the sofa with a soft brush. Dust tends to collect in the stitching, but vacuum carefully without crushing it.

Spazzolare il rivestimento in pelle del divano

2. Pre-test before cleaning leather upholstery

When using the cleaner for the first time, we advise testing on a hidden part of the sofa to check the reaction of the upholstery and colour. As you know, leather is a unique, natural material, which means that even if it is checked and certified, each batch could react differently.

Use a wet white cloth. Wipe the cloth over a hidden area of the sofa. If wiping the wet cloth alters or removes the colour, do not use the product. Perform a second test with the liquid labelled ‘leather cleaner’ and if the result is satisfactory, continue with the cleaning operation.

3. Leather cleaner: professional product for leather sofas cleaning

Shake the bottle of cleaner and soak the white sponge provided in the box.
Use circular movements to wipe the cleaner-soaked sponge delicately without exerting too much pressure. The liquid will remove the dirt. When you have finished, dry with a soft cloth. Use the cleaner on the entire sofa.

Leather cleaner: professional product for leather sofas cleaning

Even when there are no particular stains, which must be cleaned immediately with the liquid cleaner, we advise repeating the cleaning operation six to 12 times a year, especially in the well-used areas, before the dirt becomes ingrained. Light colours such as white and ivory are even more vulnerable to dust. Because the colours are light, they deteriorate more quickly with time and wear.

Another important maintenance routine for leather sofas is applying a protector at least four times a year. This is a special, water-based product that keeps the leather nice and supple. It also creates an invisible barrier which protects the leather and helps to remove oil or alcohol stains.

4. How to use the leather upholstery protector

Also in the case of the protector, we advise testing on a hidden part of the sofa. The product should be applied after careful cleaning with the leather cleaner, using the soft white cloth provided in the kit to spread it evenly over the surface of the sofa. If you want a polished surface, wait for the product to dry and then polish the leather with a soft cloth, without exerting too much pressure.

How to use the leather upholstery protector

This type of product is suitable for leather upholstery but not for suede or Nubuck leather.
We’d like to end this post dedicated to cleaning leather sofas with some general tips that are often under-rated.

10 tips for keeping your leather sofa beautiful

  • rub leather cleaning or protective products gently because too much pressure will make dirt penetrate the leather, rather than clean it

  • never use ordinary domestic cleaning detergents to remove stains or clean leather upholstery

  • don't use oil of any kind on your leather upholstery

  • it is very important not to expose leather sofas to direct sunlight, halogen lamps or sources of heat, because this would cause the leather to yellow

  • don't leave newspapers in contact with leather upholstery, as it could absorb the ink

  • don't sit on the sofa wearing garments that could leach colour, like jeans. The leather, especially if it is light, could absorb the colour

  • never rub leather or the stitching vigorously

  • ink stains must be removed immediately because once the leather has absorbed them they cannot be removed

  • natural leather (aka aniline) is the most delicate and should be cleaned more often

  • using milk, even skimmed, to remove stains from leather sofas is not advisable as the grease in milk deposits on the leather surface and gradually accumulates over time, withholding dirt even more

Our leather cleaning kits are sold by all Doimo Salotti dealers.

February 2019
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