How to Make Sure Your Leather Couch Lasts Forever—and Stays Buttery, Plush, and Rip-Free

Care for this timeless investment, and it will always be your favorite piece in the room.

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Children Bouncing on a Brown Leather Sofa in a Sunny Domestic Room

A leather couch is arguably one of the most handsome pieces of furniture you could own. Its timelessness makes it equal parts classic and modern, and with so many silhouettes to choose from, it's easy to find a leather sofa that melds perfectly with your existing aesthetic. Another benefit of leather couches is that when it's high quality and taken care of, it can last a lifetime. Ahead, we're teaching you how to identify a well-made leather couch and how to ensure it endures.

Signs of a High Quality Leather Couch

Not every leather couch is worth your hard-earned cash. But how can you tell a high quality leather couch from one that's subpar? Here are a few signs to look for.

Luxurious Feel and Smell

Don't be afraid to touch, smell, and sit on a leather couch before you make your purchase. "A leather sofa should be soft to the touch and give that authentic, appealing leather smell—not a chemical or artificial smell," says furniture upholstery expert Edgar Blazona.

Full Grain or Top Grain

Don't be misled by slick language. While "genuine leather" sounds appealing, this is actually a lower quality leather grade and not ideal for leather couches, Blazona warns. Full grain and top grain leather are considered superior.

Robust Seams and Good Shape

Take a look at the seams and observe the overall shape of the leather couch. "If the seaming is poor or pulling, the leather is gathering at the corners or not sitting right, or the overall shape of the leather or cushion filler feels cheap, those are giveaways that the quality of the leather couch is not so great," notes Julie Brayton, lead designer at Brayton Interiors.

The Price Tag Makes Sense

Price is often another indication of a high quality leather couch since it reflects the materials used and the skills required to build the piece. "True, top-quality leather will cost more, so don't shy away from a higher priced sofa," says Blazona. "This means you'll be getting a better quality piece that will withstand the test of time."

How to Care for a Leather Couch

Once you've got your leather couch proudly on display in your home, you'll want to make sure it's well groomed. This keeps the leather soft and supple and prevents stains from settling.

Pro Tip: Note that your approach to cleaning a leather couch depends on the couch itself. Similar to checking the care label for clothing, it's best to familiarize yourself with the care instructions for the couch, which the retailer should convey upon purchase.

Dust and Vacuum

You should dust and vacuum leather couches monthly. Make sure to get underneath the cushions and in all the tiny spots where dust and debris accumulate. Use a clean, dry microfiber cloth to pick up dust, advises Vera Peterson, president of Molly Maid, a Neighborly company.


Shampooing leather couches usually isn't necessary. In fact, it's ideal to let your couch patina and age naturally, Brayton notes. However, if it's very dirty and needs an overall cleaning, then a wipe down may be necessary.

To shampoo, combine equal parts water and white vinegar in a bucket, says Peterson. Saturate a clean microfiber cloth and then wring it out so it's damp but not sopping wet. Wipe the couch down, making sure to re-dip as needed. Finish by drying with a clean and dry microfiber cloth. Avoid using the couch until it's completely dry.

"Do not use petroleum-based or harsh cleaning products on your leather sofa, as it could damage the leather and leave it feeling sticky," Blazona says. It's also smart to spot test a discreet area before cleaning the entire couch.


Leather is prone to drying out, making conditioning a key part of caring for couches covered with the material. Conditioning adds moisture back into the leather and prevents cracking. Aim to condition about once every four to six months, erring for greater frequency if you live in an arid climate, the couch is exposed to sunshine, and/or you've been running indoor heating. If you notice the leather looks dry, it's time to condition.

Various leather conditioning products exist, and each has its own usage instructions. Similar to shampooing, Blazona recommends doing a spot test before using any product across your entire sofa.

Professional Deep Cleaning

You can handle fresh, small spills and stains on your own with water or a vinegar/water mixture. However, it's best to leave larger stains and general deep cleaning to the pros. Even if there's no stain, routine professional deep cleanings about once a year can help keep your leather couch looking great well into the future. This is perhaps more pertinent for big investment pieces, so use your discretion.

Repairing Leather Couch Damage

Let's troubleshoot a few common issues you might run into with leather couches.


Cracking occurs when your leather couch dries out, which is why routine conditioning is so important. If the leather starts cracking, condition it immediately. If the cracks are deeper, you can purchase a leather repair kit or hire a professional to help minimize existing damage and prevent new splits from occurring.

Tears and Rips

For small tears, leather-approved adhesive usually does the trick. Large rips are tougher, and may require a more creative approach or help from an upholstery professional.

"If it's really vintage and lived-in like an old baseball glove, you could approach the rip in a more whimsical way and apply a stitching detail in a contrast color or introduce a patch," suggests Brayton. "If it's a more sophisticated and tightly upholstered piece, you'll want to call the pros who know how to repair rips to make them look seamless."

She notes that it's challenging to fully replace just one cushion or one section of a leather chair or sofa because ordering additional leather in the same colorway could present you with a different dye lot. However, that's an option if you're okay with variance.


Always address stains as soon as they occur by wiping and blotting with a dry cloth. Fortunately, leather is pretty forgiving with stains as long as the substance doesn't have a chance to really sink into the couch. For deep stains, consult a professional cleaner. "They can look at your specific leather and come up with a plan of action to fix the stain," says Balzona.

It's important to remember that leather does age, and that the gorgeous patina and "lived in" sag is arguably one of its greatest appeals. Dust often, condition routinely, and keep your leather couch away from sharp objects (including pet toes!), heat sources, and direct sunshine and it'll remain a gorgeous centerpiece for years to come.

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