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Restoring Leather Couches | The Definitive Guide

Leather couches are a popular choice for individuals and families who want to add a luxurious touch to their homes. However, leather couches can require more TLC than your average piece of furniture.

Avoiding spills and dirt as well as using a leather cleaner can help your couch stay looking beautiful for years to come. If treated well, your leather upholstery will only get better with age.

In order to keep your leather couches looking their best, you should dust them regularly and vacuum them every couple of weeks. We recommend performing a light dust every few days to keep the general dust down, and vacuuming them every two weeks to keep the surface free from dirt and pet hair.

Restoring leather couches can be time-consuming, so it’s best to keep up the regular cleaning to prolong the life of your couch. A few minutes of attention can breathe new life into your leather couch.

Remember: A stitch in time, saves nine!

If your leather upholstery is looking a little worse for wear, read on below to see our definitive guide to restoring your leather couch.

restoring leather couches

How To Clean Your Leather Couch Without Damaging It

While a leather couch is very durable, there are a few things to note when cleaning to avoid doing unintentional damage to the leather.

Check Your Codes

Always check your cleaning code! This is usually found on the underside of your cushions or on an attached tag. This dictates what cleaning methods can and can’t be used (e.g. Cleaning Code S – Dry Solvent, Cleaning Code W – Water-Based, Cleaning Code WS – Water & Solvent etc.)

Vacuum & Brush

Now depending on the code you find, the next common step is to vacuum the entire surface of your couch with a soft brush attachment before you start cleaning it. If there is any dirt on the surface, it can scratch off the color of the couch when you’re trying to clean it.

Use A Damp Cloth

Use a moistened cloth for gently rubbing stains from leather couches, instead of products that contain alcohol or other chemicals that can dry out and damage the material over time.

Apply Cleaning Solution

If stains remain, use a soft-bristled brush to gently agitate them and then apply a small amount of gentle cleaning solution with water before wiping off with a damp cloth.

This is a very general outline, for a more detailed explanation check out our guide here.

How To Fix Worn, Faded Or Discoloured Leather Furniture

how to restore worn leather couch

Fixing faded or discoloured leather furniture can be a tricky task. There are a few different methods that you can use to make your leather furniture look brand new again.

You can try the following steps to get started, and remember, you can always call your local furniture upholstery business and they can give you guidance according to your specific needs.

Clean the furniture with a clean cloth and plain water, as per the setps we’ve mentioned above. Make sure to rub in a circular motion to remove all dirt and dust from the surface of the furniture.

Take a small amount of leather conditioner or cream and rub it in a thin coat into the faded area of your leather chair or sofa. Allow this mixture to sit for several hours before wiping it off with a damp cloth, as this will allow enough time for the conditioner to soak into the leather for lasting protection.

Before applying anything to your leather furniture, test a small area on an inconspicuous part of the couch first. This is called a spot test.

While you can purchase leather dyes and pigments from your local upholstery store, make sure you take a small sample of the leather (usually found under the couch) to ensure you get the right product for your furniture.

The professionals at Leather Tech have an excellent video below showing just how effective using a good leather conditioner can be!

Removing Stains From Your Leather Couch

It’s important to clean stains on your leather couch before they set in for too long, because some stains will not come out if you wait too long. The stain might also cause permanent damage to the couch if left untreated.

For example, oil and grease stains should be treated immediately with a gentle stain remover like dish soap or laundry detergent.

A gentle stain remover works best on light or moderate stains that are not embedded in the leather. Again, make sure you check your code first and test any cleaner before applying it directly onto the couch.


Do your reserach and use a specific leather cleaner and conditioner designed for your exact needs. Consult the manufacturer or a professional if ever unsure.

Perform a patch test first. It’s always best to do a patch test before applying anything to your couch – you don’t want to risk making the problem even worse. Before you use any product to fix an issue, make sure you do a test on an area that can be hidden or removed easily.


Reach for the cleaners under your sink. Bottles of household cleaners often contain harsh chemicals that can ruin your expensive leather couch. A lot of different cleaning liquids have bleach as well. If you apply bleach products to your leather sofa, there’s a risk of staining or removing the colour all together.

Don’t use a brush that feels harsh to the touch, this will likely just lead to more stains and even damage the leather. We recommend using a soft bristle brush, microfibre cloth or a damp sponge on your leather couch.

How To Remove Scratches From A Leather Couch (This Includes Cat Scratches)

remove cat scratches from a leather couch

If you catch the scratches on your leather couch early enough and they are still small, you can fix them using a wipe on leather conditioner. Simply apply with a clean microfibre cloth and rub thoroughly into the scratch. Wipe the excess conditioner off with a soft clean cloth and repeat if necessary.

With an old leather couch and heavier scratches, it can be harder to repair the damage. The good news is that it can still be done! The best solution is to purchase a quality leather repair kit. Products that are used to remove scratches from leather couches come in a variety of forms such as creams or sprays.

It’s important that you read the instructions on the label before using any cleaning product. Also, make sure the lounge, couch or sofa is cleaned with your choice of cleaner first as any dirt or grime will make it worse.

Note: If your couch has some serious damage from cat scratches (or dogs, keys, cracking etc.), you should check out our guide on how to repair a leather couch.

Removing Stubborn Ink Stains From Leather Furniture

It is especially heartbreaking to find an ink stain on your favourite leather furniture.

The process to lift ink stains is similar to any other stain. Apply a small amount of cleaning solution to a soft bristled brush and agitate the stain, without using too much pressure. Once ink has been completely cleared lift the brush and wipe the leather over with a damp cloth. If the stain persists, you can look into specific stain removal products for your type of leather.

That’s It – The Soffa Mag Guide To Restoring Leather Couches!

So there you have it, our complete guide on how to restore, refinish and refurbish your worn, faded, stained or torn leather furniture.

Remember that it is always better to regularly clean your furniture and to catch stains early so the cleaning process is as simple as possible and further damage doen’t occur.

Always check your codes and ‘spot test’, and if the process seems too daunting, or your sofa has had a particularly hard life, don’t hesitate to track down a professional upholstery cleaner in your area.

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