Knowing How to Remove Common Stains from Leather Sofas can help protect this expensive investment

When caring for a leather sofa, there are certain things that you cannot avoid. Unfortunately, staining from stubborn chemicals coming from normal household items is one of them.

If you’re stuck with a leather sofa that has been stained, follow these steps to get it back in perfect condition as soon as possible:

Determine the type of leather

The chemicals that your leather sofa absorbs, and the stain it leaves behind, depends on the type of leather that the furniture is using.

Leathers that are ‘naked’ have little-to-no covering to protect the original skin, making it extremely absorbent and more difficult to clean. For this reason, naked leather sofas often need professional cleaning services to remove stains.

On the other hand, finished leather sofas have a protective layer and are less prone to absorbing liquid. This means it is easier to remove staining at home by following the steps outlined below.

The most common stains

Whilst there are a handful of unusual stains that can develop on your leather sofa, the most common include:


If you’re using a pen on your sofa or somehow find an ink staining, it’s essential to attempt cleaning it as soon as possible before it causes damage to the leather.

You can remove ink stains from leather by using warm water and a soft cloth or sponge to blot up the ink. This will stop the chemicals from penetrating further into the sofa and lift the staining from the surface.

Nail polish

Painting your nails on a leather sofa isn’t a wise idea, but it’s still one of the most common types of stain!

On leather sofas with nail polish staining, use non-acetone polish to remove the bulk of the chemicals. Then, because nail polish remover can be dehydrating, you should also use a beeswax bar after to recondition the leather.


Paint is another stain that can get on leather sofas and cause discolouration if left too long.

However, paint stains are fairly easy to remove once dry and can sometimes be done by taking a sturdy card (such as a credit card) and scratching the paint off. Once the bulk of the paint has been removed, you can clean with a damp cloth.

If the paint is wet, nail polish remover is able to remove many types of paint from leather. Simply absorb a cloth and rub the stained area, then wipe with a damp cloth and leave to dry. If the nail polish remover is not completely removed with water afterwards, then it can also lead to discolouration, so make sure it is entirely gone.

How to avoid ruining your sofa

Whilst there are a few techniques and solutions that you can use to clean stains from a leather sofa, remember these things to avoid ruining or damaging the leather even further

  • Remove the stain as soon as you notice it or instantly after something is spilled
  • Wipe with the grain of the leather as opposed to against it
  • Don’t use cold or warm water on grease stains
  • Try the removal method on an inconspicuous stain on a small part of the leather sofa (such as the back) before attempting entire couch

As you can see, stains don’t always mean that you have to go and purchase a new leather sofa. In fact, the majority of stains on finished leather furniture can be removed by following these steps, giving you a way to ensure that your sofa always looks in perfect condition!

Photo courtesy of George Hodan on