How to Clean and Restore a White Leather Couch

Last update: 1 year ago

How to clean a white leather couch
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White leather sofas are an 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 its colour is the perfect background for all kinds of stains. Dust, dirt, fingerprints, pet hair, and food stains all pop out perfectly on white leather. And if you have children at home, the chances of getting the couch stained or damaged grow exponentially.

But it’s not only about the colour, but it’s also about the material too. Even though leather is a sturdy material, the surface is porous, which means 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?

  1. Make a cleaning solution.

    You’ll need 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. Depending on the sofa or stain size, you can adjust the number of ingredients.

  2. Apply the solution to the couch using a sponge or a clean cloth.

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

  3. Wipe fresh spills using a mild detergent and a soft cloth.

    You can use soapy water prepared with very small amount of dish detergent for fresh stains.

  4. Clean any tougher spots with a soft-bristled toothbrush.

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

  5. Wipe the couch’s surface with a clean 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.

Remember always to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to clean the sofa.

Important: When you try a new cleaner, 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.

How to clean a 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 to help you delay the yellowing process and enjoy your white leather couch for a little longer:

What causes the yellowing on white leather sofas?

A natural oxidation process causes the yellowing of white leather pieces. In simpler words, it’s what leather does when 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 oxidation process 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 that 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 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.

You can resort to placing a cover over your leather sofa. They hide the beautiful looks of the leather, but they also keep it protected for years to come, and you won’t have to clean them as often.

Avoid sitting in 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 to 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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  • Read the manufacturer’s label for instructions on cleaning 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 clean it regularly with a leather care kit and dust it with a soft cloth at least twice a week.
  • Allow the couch to dry fully after cleaning before using it.
  • You can always hire a professional upholstery cleaning team. They have all the right solutions.
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3 years ago

I have heard that baking soda is very bad for leather, due to its PH level breaking the leather down which can actually accelerate yellowing/ageing etc… maybe you guys should update this article? Apparently a good inexpensive solution is baby soap as it can clean dirt etc, but as it is a more neutral PH it’s much safer and wont affect the leather. Thought you might want to know!

The Fantastic Team
1 year ago
Reply to  Anon

In our experience, baking soda has proven to be safe to use on leather. As any new cleaning solution, it’s best to test in an incospicious area. Thank you for the alternative suggestion.

Robyn Lamont
Robyn Lamont
2 years 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?

1 year ago
Reply to  Robyn Lamont

The dye from dark denim is probably the culprit.

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