Sloane leather sofa
27th June 2017

How to Care for a Leather Sofa

By Darlings Of Chelsea

One of the great things about owning a leather sofa is how long it lasts, often simply looking better and better with age. To achieve this effect, however, they do need a bit more care than a fabric sofa and require careful cleaning especially if stained or soiled.

In this blog post, we give some advice for how to keep your sofa looking its best for years to come, as well as how to clean and care for a leather sofa and deal with common mishaps.

Feather Extra Deep Leather Sofa in Tan


Although leather is quite resilient to fading, it can crack and discolour if it dries out. It’s, therefore, best to keep it out of direct sunlight, and not too close to heat sources such as radiators or fireplaces; about two meters is a good rule of thumb.

Weekly Cleaning

Like all furniture, your leather sofa will need regular cleaning and care, and it’s important to do so carefully and using the right methods and products in order to avoid causing damage.

Sandhurst close up

For regular weekly cleaning, vacuum the sofa using a soft brush to remove dust, crumbs or any other small particles. As these often accumulate in the seams, gaps and between cushions, it’s important to pay particular attention to these places.

Once you have vacuumed the sofa to remove all of the largest particles, you should wipe it down using a soft cloth, preferably microfiber, dampened either with simple warm water or with a homemade solution of equal parts white vinegar and water. Then dry the sofa with a soft towel.

In general, it is best to avoid any other household cleaning products like soaps and detergents, and especially bleach or anything ammonia-based.

Regular Care

Most of the time, a simple weekly cleaning routine like that described above will be all that is needed to look after your sofa. About once or twice a year, however, you should condition the leather. This replaces the natural oils in the leather, without which it will eventually dry out and crack. Leather conditioners can be purchased from any of our showrooms, and it’s always important to read and follow the instructions, and to test new products on a small and inconspicuous area of the sofa before applying it all over.

Cleaning Spills

Spilling something on a leather sofa can be worrying but there’s no need to panic, most spills can easily be cleaned up with care and specialist products. The most important thing is to blot up as much of the liquid as possible, but not to wipe it as this is more likely to cause permanent discolouration of the leather.

Leather close up

For spills that don’t look as if they will be solved by simple blotting, it’s often best to buy a specialist leather cleaning product. However, ink and permanent marker stains can often be removed by carefully blotting with rubbing alcohol, and grease stains from food or hair can be removed by sprinkling baking soda or cornstarch onto the stain and then brushing it away after a few hours.

Different Types of Leather

Most different types of leather, such as antique, pull-up and nubuck can be treated in the way described in this article, just be careful to read the labels of any cleaning or treatment products to ensure they are suitable for your sofa. There are two main exceptions, however, where you may need to take a little more care.

Aniline and Sauvage Leather

Aniline and Sauvage leather, and other similar absorbent types of leather, are simply dyed and have no surface coating, meaning that they are generally softer but also much more absorbent. If you are unsure what kind of leather you have, an easy way to check is to place a drop of water on it and see if it soaks into the leather, or sits on the surface. If it soaks in, your sofa is probably naturally dyed without a surface coating and may therefore be a little more prone to becoming dirty over time.

You can help to prevent this by applying a protective coating, using a suitable leather protection cream, or specialist wipes impregnated with cream, and by careful cleaning using only a very slightly damp cloth. It is important to be cautious when using any other products and to check that they are suitable for Aniline-type leathers, as they will quickly soak into the leather and may otherwise damage it.


Much of the advice about regular vacuuming and dusting also applies to suede sofas, but they generally require the additional step of thorough brushing with a suede brush. This provides additional cleaning and also restores the nap of the suede, making it look fresh again.

You can also apply a protective spray to the suede, which helps to prevent staining and soiling. If you are going to do this it is important to check the manufacturer’s instructions first to confirm what type of sprays are appropriate and whether doing so could void your warranty.

Rocco 3 seater sofa in 40 Karma - 600 Cuoio - Scatter cushions not included

Repairing Cuts and Holes

Although leather is pretty tough, it can of course be cut, torn or punctured. This can obviously be upsetting as leather is a fairly expensive fabric, and replacing damaged covers might be a significant expense. Fortunately, that is very rarely necessary as cuts and tears can usually be repaired at home with a little care and the right tools.

You will need super glue, a canvas or leather sub patch (which needn’t match your sofa, as it won’t be visible), some sandpaper and a sharp knife or scalpel. You may also need some filler and a leather dye that matches your sofa. All of these items are available online or from DIY or home stores, and many are available as leather repair kits that include almost everything you need in a single package.

Although the technique depends a little on the type of damage, it is worth reading the instructions on the repair kit you have bought, the basic process is to clean up the tear by carefully trimming it with a sharp blade, then place the patch underneath the tear and super glue both sides of the torn material to it, placing the edges of the tear together if possible so there is no gap.

In many cases, this is sufficient and, with a high-quality patch and good superglue, will hold firmly for the lifetime of the sofa and be almost invisible. In some cases, the patch may still be visible, however, particularly if the damage was large enough that there is still a gap between the edges of the tear. In this case, you may need to go over it with heavy filler, pushing it into the gap between the leather edges, carefully building it up in thin layers, and then re-colouring the filler and patched area so it blends into the rest of the sofa, using an appropriate leather dye. As always, it is best to test any dye you use on an inconspicuous area first to make sure it matches.

If you are unsure about making repairs yourself, of course, it is always worth speaking to a professional and for just a little more money you may end up with a much neater result with far less effort.