How to Protect a White Leather Sofa from Damage and Stains

How to Protect a White Leather Sofa from Damage and Stains

Some might say the white leather couch is the chameleon of couches. It can act as the statement piece in a gray-walled room, or blend into a simplistic all-white space. White leather couches can be spruced up with a couple of bright pillows, or toned down with patterned off-white ones. Any way it’s incorporated into a room’s décor, there’s no denying one factor: it exudes luxury, modernity and elegance.

So we ask, what’s not to love about this piece of furniture that seemingly has no flaws? Probably what you guessed: it seems daunting to keep clean. In reality, it’s actually not that difficult to maintain the perfect white color — even five years down the road!

Thankfully, leather is not suede. That means it’s durable, tough and less prone to being ruined from food and pet smells, or water stains. In fact, leather has been used since the Middle Ages for furniture and dining room chairs because it does not absorb odors! This, however, does not mean leather is invincible. With a few simple tricks and tips, we’ll turn you into a cleaning gladiator who can tackle any couch problem that comes your way.

White sofa

How does leather get damaged?

Heat and sunlight

When decorating a home, rarely do we consider how sunlight might affect a piece of furniture that is in the “perfect” position to make the room come together. This, however, becomes an incredibly important factor to consider when incorporating a white leather couch (or any piece of leather furniture) into the mix. Sunlight, radiators, space heaters and heat vents emit enough heat to dry out a piece of leather furniture. This makes the leather more vulnerable to cracking. Not only does the sunlight affect the moisture level of the leather, it can also affect the color. If a piece of furniture is located in a place where it will receive a lot of direct sunlight, you run the risk of dulling and fading the leather color.

Printed Items with Bright Ink

Have you ever left a leather wallet lying on a receipt and the ink becomes imprinted on your wallet? The same problem can happen to your leather couch. Reading magazines and books might be a favorite past time of yours, but always make sure to lay those reading items on a coffee table when you’re done with them. This will help prevent the bright ink from transferring onto the couch, leaving you with a design on your white couch that we’re guessing you don’t want.

Water Spills and Food Stains

Though this seems like common sense, untreated spills and stains can soak into leather and ruin it. Clean up spills immediately when they happen, being careful to only use the amount of water needed when wiping up any food related mishap. Let these areas air dry since a blow dryer’s heat will cause the same type of damage as sunlight or a space heater (i.e. potential cracks!).

Blue Dyes

Blue dyes can absolutely ruin a white leather couch. The most frequent encounter of blue dye against a white leather couch is someone sitting on it in blue jeans. Wearing blue jeans on this type of couch runs the risk of transferring that blue dye to the leather.

Slowing Down the Dreaded “Yellowing” Problem

Okay — so we’ve convinced you that it’s possible to live a happy, stress-free life with a white leather couch – but you’re still concerned about its potential to yellow over time. How long do I have with the couch? Is it worth the cost knowing that I will eventually have to buy a new one?

White leather yellows over time because, like all leathers, it goes through an oxidation process. Basically, over time, exterior elements (like weather, natural oils and air) break down the fibers in the leather, causing it to change color. In brown leather, you might recognize this as the reason why a light brown chair becomes a dark honey color over time. Instead of becoming a different color, white leather, unfortunately, becomes yellow. While this is not 100 percent avoidable, there are ways to slow down the process over time (and by time, we mean decades).

Taking time to clean the leather with a leather cleaner/preserver is one of the best ways to slow down the oxidation process. By keeping the leather both clean and moisturized, the fibers will break down at a slower rate. Here are four tips on successfully applying a cleaner:

  1. Make sure to check the manufacturing label for any specific instructions on how to clean the couch.
  2. Prior to applying the cleaner, wipe down the couch with a cloth to remove any loose dirt or dust.
  3. When using a new leather cleaner, test a small sample area before applying it to the full piece of furniture. Some cleaners have harsh chemicals that will ruin the leather; testing a small area first will help give you an indication of how the material will react to the chemicals within the cleaner.
  4. Once clean, allow the couch to fully dry before sitting on it.

Preventing the Family from Ruining the White Leather Couch

Spills and crumbs can happen from anyone eating on a couch, but that risk inherently increases when children come into the picture. Setting a rule to prevent your children from eating on, or around, the couch will greatly reduce the chances of ruining your bright white couch. While food might seem like the most obvious risk with kids, markers, crayons and even Play-Doh can lead to permanent, brightly colored stains. Though you might do everything you can to prevent stains and spills, they are inevitable. For added protection to your couch, put a protectant on it.

Though you may want to cuddle with your dog, cat or other pet on the couch, an animal’s claws can scratch and destroy the leather. Unless you have a clawless animal (like a snake), prevent it from jumping up on the couch with you for that Friday night TV show.

A high-traffic household leads to more use of the couch and living room space. If someone frequently sits in the same position, place a towel or blanket in that spot as a barrier between the person and the couch. This will help prevent an uneven wearing-down of the leather.

If none of this works, make sure to have a reliable furniture repair company on speed dial. At Guardsman, our On-Site Care & Repair services are available to both individuals and businesses. With the help of our skilled technicians, we will work to restore or fix your couch from the comfort of your own home.

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