How to Clean and Restore a White Leather Couch

Last update: 5 months ago

How to clean a white leather couch
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White leather sofas are considered a very elegant and bold choice that can make every room look sleek and modern. But it also takes a brave soul to buy a white couch because this colour is the perfect background for all kinds of stains – dust, dirt, fingerprints, pet hair, food stains, they all pop out perfectly on white leather. And if you have children at home, the chances to get the couch stained or damaged grow exponentially.

Even though leather is a sturdy material, the surface is porous, which means that it captures oils, and all kinds of dirt can stick to it for good. If you don’t cover it or take regular care of it, you can end up with a yellowed white leather couch in just a few years.

While you can buy expensive leather cleaning detergents, they often contain toxic ingredients, which can cause skin irritations and other unpleasant symptoms. A good alternative is to clean your white leather couch with a homemade cleaner from ingredients you already have in your home.

How to clean a white leather couch with baking soda

Baking soda is a magical powder that not only lifts off all kinds of stains but also absorbs moisture and oils, which makes it perfect for cleaning porous surfaces like leather. So, how to clean a leather sofa with baking soda?

All you’ll need is 1 tablespoon of baking soda, 1 tablespoon of Borax (a common non-toxic household chemical commonly used in laundry and cleaning products) and around 100ml of water.

Place the baking soda and Borax in a bowl, pour the water and stir until the components mix. You can adjust the number of ingredients depending on the sofa or stain size.

Use a sponge or a clean cloth to apply the solution. Dip it in the bowl, then apply on the stain or area you want to treat and gently rub until the stain dissolves or the area regains its original colour. Be careful not to scratch the leather surface.

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean any tighter spots on your white leather couch. The sponge or rag can do a great job on flat surfaces, but for hidden spots like stitches, crevices, zippers and all the places where various parts of the couch meet, you’ll need a smaller tool. The toothbrush is perfect because it’s small and can easily reach all those places.

Once you’re done with the cleaning, wipe the couch’s surface with a dry cloth until it’s completely dry. It’s not a good idea to leave cleaning solution residue on leather because it can damage the fabric in the long term.

How to clean white leather couch that has yellowed

Many people get tricked by the good looks of white leather sofas, and they don’t realise that this particular type of furniture is prone to yellowing if not properly cared for.

They usually notice when it’s already too late, and the appearance of the couch has already started to diminish. Here are some tips which will help you delay the yellowing process and enjoy your white leather couch for a little longer:

What causes the yellowing on white leather sofas?

The yellowing on white leather products is caused by a natural process of oxidation. In simpler words, it’s what leather does when it’s exposed to elements like air, dust and sun over time. Oxidation is a chemical term used to describe the breakdown of the fibres that occurs during this interaction.

All types of leather go through that process, but it’s especially visible on white leather for obvious reasons. While it’s impossible to prevent this process from happening, you can do a lot to slow it down. For instance, keeping the leather well oiled with proper furniture conditioners (like Leather Milk) is a good first step towards preventing yellowing from happening.

Restoring yellowed white leather

Cleaning the couch with the baking soda solution will efficiently take care of many types of stains on white leather, but it won’t help you restore yellowed leather.

Unfortunately, there is not much that you can do to reverse the process of oxidation once it has begun. Some people appreciate the sight of aged leather and understand that yellowing is just a part of the ageing process.

If you’re not one of them, regular cleaning and moisturising the leather are good precautions, which will help you protect it from getting that yellow tint and keep the white glow of your couch for years.

How to keep your leather couch in good condition

White leather couches are expensive and very delicate, so you need to pay some extra attention to yours if you want to keep them in good condition for longer.

Here are some tips, which will help you remove stains without damage and prolong the lifespan of your white leather:

  • Read the manufacturer’s label for any specific instructions on how to clean the sofa.
  • Wipe down the couch with a soft cloth, to remove any loose dirt and dust, before applying the cleaning detergent.
  • Make sure to regularly clean it with a leather care kit and dust it with a soft cloth at least twice a week.
  • When you try a new cleaner, first test it on a small hidden area of the couch, before applying it to the entire piece of furniture. Some cleaners are very harsh and contain chemicals that could ruin the leather.
  • Make sure all spills and stains are wiped off instantly, using a mild cleaner and a soft cloth. For fresh stains, you can use soapy water prepared using very small amounts of dish detergent.
  • Allow the couch to fully dry after a clean before sitting on it.
  • Don’t let pets on the couch. We all love our furry family members, but fur and pet smells will stick to your leather couch for good. Over time the smells will get to the sofa’s stuffing, which will make them impossible to remove and the smell will spread to the entire room.
  • Avoid getting dirt on your leather couch. Make it a rule to not put shoes on the couch, to sit on it with only clean clothes and to avoid getting any type of dirt on the couch. Some people even place special covers on their leather sofas. They hide the beautiful looks of the leather, but they also keep it protected for the years to come, and you won’t have to clean them as often.
  • Avoid sitting with jeans on the couch. All types of coloured denim can stain light-coloured leather pieces thanks to a process called “dye transfer”. The same applies for placing newspapers and magazines on the leather couch – the ink print can be easily transferred from the paper to the leather.

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Robyn Lamont
Robyn Lamont
6 months ago

I just acquired a second-hand white sofa. After first cleaning it is looking better, however there seems to be a purplish colouring in the seat and lower backrest. Very light, but definitely not yellow or grey.

Any guess what may have caused this, or any solution to the problem?

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