Sunday, October 02, 2005

How to recondition a leather couch

10 years ago I purchased a semi-custom high-end leather couch. It has some of the thickest leather you can buy, and the back cushions are filled with down. With its combination of thick hide, and dark coffee leather, I figured it might -- just might -- survive in our cat-infested household.

After an initial onslaught from Bosco the Destroyer and Sam the Sprayer (both departed in the couch's early years of residence) the couch has done well with the cats. In fact, the current crop of kitties shows little interest in it, preferring cat trees, fleece slumber balls, and desktop cat beds.

Every few years "recondition the couch" makes my summer task list, but I never get beyond a quick once-over with a leather cleaning solution. Thus the couch gets drier and dustier looking, sort of a scratched cafe-au-lait. I contacted two local carpet cleaning companies that recondition leather furniture, but discovered that much of their hefty price is the cost for moving the couch to their facility and back.

I did some research online and got advice and supplies from the local Tandy leather shop, and finally executed a couch-reconditioning plan (described below) that turned out to be quick, neat, and effective. Even the cats noticed the difference. As soon as I tucked in the last seat cushion, Kaylee jumped onto the completed couch and made herself at home.


• Reconditioning supplies: 1 small (200 ml) bottle Lexol pH leather cleaner and 1 small (200 ml) bottle of Lexol original formula leather cleaner preservative. Since you will use an entire bottle of each for one couch, you should buy two bottles, or the larger size (though the larger bottle will be harder to handle with wet rags and slippery hands). BTW, both of these treatments are scentless and safe to touch.

• Other supplies: tarps or old sheets to protect the carpet and floors around the couch. 4 - 6 lint-free dish towels or other old towels to apply the liquid treatments.

Step-by-step reconditioning:

1. Put down tarps or sheets; then remove all easily removable cushions. NOTE: If your couch has zip-on back cushions, don't remove them. The zippers can be hideously fragile.)

2. Working from the top down (to avoid problems with drips) apply the leather cleaner to a wet towel and rub in to all the leather surfaces, raising a little lather. Wipe off lather with a damp towel. This process should take 15-20 minutes for the entire couch and cushions.

3. Let everything dry for 30 minutes.

4. Shake up the the leather conditioner (which is sort of creamy and sticky) and (again working from the top down) apply it with a damp towel or sponge to the leather, rubbing in broad motions. Don't panic if dark streaks appear where leather is scratched, nicked, or has been stained. These will disappear within 10-15 minutes. Be very careful to get the conditioner in to creases and seams in the leather; if you don't, these will look dry and dusty afterwards. Make sure all conditioner is rubbed in (don't leave wet spots). Conditioning should take about 20-30 minutes for couch and cushions.

5. Buff with a dry towel. Keep in mind that this not shoe leather, and the conditioner is not shoe polish. The leather will be soft and pliant, not smooth and shiny.

6. Reassemble couch and enjoy.


  1. thanks!
    this has been helpful.

    ps. like your kitty

  2. Anonymous11:06 AM

    Where did you get the polish?

  3. Polish is from Tandy leather. I got it at their local shop, but they are also online.

  4. Thanks so much! I just finished my project using your experience.

  5. nice post love reading it.

  6. The leather couch in general is an article of furniture providing the space for two or three people and has armrests and sometimes accompanying pillows.

  7. You have shared very nice information about of you recondition leather couch. really you have shared very nice information of this topic. thank you for sharing.
    Leather Sofa Land

  8. Have you ever tried buffing leather furniture with an electric buffer? I'm thinking of a small orbital one.