How To Whiten Yellowed Leather Sofa [7 Steps]

A white or cream-colored leather sofa can make a living or dining room look absolutely stunning. Unfortunately, sometimes these brilliant light-colored sofas tend to turn yellow from stains, grease, dye from clothes, and the natural process of oxidation. So, how can you restore that white leather sofa to its once brilliant hue? We have found the best ways you can whiten your leather sofa when it begins to turn yellow.

Here are the steps to whiten a yellowed leather sofa:

  1. Vacuum the sofa
  2. Combine the cleaning solution
  3. Spot test the cleaning solution
  4. Apply the cleaning solution to the sofa
  5. Wipe the sofa with a damp cloth or sponge
  6. Dry the sofa with a dry white cloth
  7. Apply leather conditioner

It can be hard to keep white leather clean, but it is possible. Below we will cover ways to whiten your leather sofa as well as ways to help maintain it and prevent it from further discoloration. Continue reading to learn more about how to keep your leather sofa in the best shape.

A living room with white sofa, brown pouf and white coffee table, How To Whiten Yellowed Leather Sofa [7 Steps]

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Steps to whiten a yellowed leather sofa

Before applying any commercial or homemade cleaners to your leather sofa, you should always read the manufacturer’s instructions or care tag on the sofa. This way, you can prevent possibly ruining your sofa by using the wrong cleaning solutions.

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How To Whiten Yellowed Leather Sofa [7 Steps]

Things you’ll need:

  • 2 white cleaning cloths
  • A soft sponge
  • Mild dish soap
  • Oxiclean
  • A toothbrush
  • Leather conditioner

1. Vacuum the sofa

Woman use vacuum cleaner

Before cleaning the sofa it is important to remove any loose debris, dirt, and dust from the leather’s surface. You can do this easily with an upholstery cleaner or a vacuum outfitted with an attachment hose. Be sure to clean between the sofa’s cushions, removing any pillows, and lifting the seating if possible. You can also remove any dirt or debris by wiping the sofa down using a microfiber cloth or soft white cloth.

Buy an upholstery vacuum on Amazon.

2. Combine the cleaning solution

OxiClean Stain Remover powder and OxiClean Liquid Laundry Detergent

Next, combine a tablespoon of OxiClean with half a teaspoon of mild dish detergent and pour it into a bowl of warm water (around two cups). Use a spoon to mix the solution. If the solution becomes pasty, add a little more water.

Buy OxiClean on Amazon.

3. Spot test the cleaning solution

Leaning leather sofa at home with wet towel

Before setting forth on your leather cleaning mission, it’s important to first spot test the solution to prevent possible discoloration. To do this, find an inconspicuous area on your leather couch, perhaps in the inside corner behind a seating cushion, to test your cleaning solution. Let it sit on the sofa for about 10 to 15 minutes, and if there is no discoloration, you are good to go!

4. Apply the cleaning solution to the sofa

Cleaning leather sofa at home with wet towel


Dip a white towel or sponge into the cleaning solution and apply it to the leather sofa’s affected areas. Rub the solution in a circular motion and apply only a small amount of pressure. Do not rub the solution so vigorously to generate a lather (you don’t want suds), but gently and slowly so that it works into the material. Also, be careful of applying too much as you don’t want the leather to become too wet, only slightly damp.

Buy microfiber cloths on Amazon.

You can also use a disposable toothbrush or a furniture brush to work the solution into the leather. Be sure to use brushes with caution, as they can scratch the finish of the leather, making it more susceptible to future stains and damage. Use the toothbrush in spots that are a bit tighter to reach with your hand, such as crevices, creases, and around tight stitching. If any stains persist, you may need to leave the cleaning solution on them for two to three minutes before removal.

Buy disposable toothbrushes on Amazon.

5. Wipe the sofa with a damp cloth or sponge

Cleaning leather sofa with towel

Once the yellow stains have lifted from the couch, rinse your cleaning cloth with warm water and wipe down all of the areas to which you applied the solution. Be sure to carefully inspect the couch to ensure that you have removed all of the residues from the cleaning solution, as you want to prevent future discoloration.

Buy cleaning sponges on Amazon.

6. Dry the sofa with a dry white cloth

Woman cleaning a beige sofa with yellow cloth

Next, use a dry microfiber cloth or other soft cloth to dry the affected areas thoroughly.

7. Apply leather conditioner

Once your sofa is clean and dry, apply a leather conditioner to the affected areas to keep from drying out and cracking. Applying leather conditioner can also help your leather stand up better to future stains–not to mention that it gives it a nice shine.

Buy leather conditioner on Amazon.

Quick Tips To Keep Leather In Great Condition

The best way to prolong the lifespan of your leather is to keep it maintained. In addition to removing stains from your leather sofa as soon as they occur, here are other ways to help keep it clean and well-maintained:

  • Always read the manufacturer’s label before applying any cleaning solutions, oils, waxes, or conditioners to your leather sofa, regardless of the color.
  • Always vacuum or wipe down your leather sofa before applying a cleaning solution to remove any loose dust and dirt.
  • Try to clean your sofa at least twice a month using a soft cloth and a leather care kit. Or you can simply wipe it down with the soft cloth by itself to remove weekly dust build-up.
  • Always spot test any new cleaning solution or product before applying it to visible areas of your leather sofa. Some homemade cleaners may be too harsh and contain chemicals that can completely ruin your sofa.
  • Allow your sofa to fully dry after cleaning, waxing, or conditioning before sitting on it again.
  • When stains occur, be sure to blot them up immediately to avoid permanent damage to the sofa.
  • If you want to prolong the life of your leather sofa, it’s best not to let pets sit on it, as their claws may scratch the material of the leather, resulting in numerous small scratches on the seating sofa’s seating area.
  • If you have a white or cream-colored leather couch, avoid sitting on the couch with jeans or dark-colored pants, as they can transfer dye to the couch. The same applies to placing magazines and newspapers on the couch so as not to transfer ink.

Can You Use A Magic Eraser On Leather?

It is not advised to use Magic Eraser on your leather products, whether it’s a sofa, shoes, or other apparel. The reason is the eraser may wipe away the protective coating on the leather, making it more susceptible to damage from water, dirt, spills, and other stains.

Can You Use Lysol Wipes On Leather?

Many leather manufacturers do not recommend using any sanitation wipes (this includes Lysol disinfectant wipes) or sprays on leather products, as they may damage the finish on the leather. Depending on the type of leather product and its quality, you may be able to simply clean it with a mixture of soap and water.

You can do a quick spot test on an unnoticeable area to test for colorfastness. You’ll also want to stay away from harsh chemicals such as alcohol-based cleaners and bleach when cleaning your leather. Ultimately, the best way to clean your leather without risking it is to use a leather cleaner.

What Household Products Can You Use To Clean Leather?

There are quite a few household products that you can use to clean leather. Let’s discuss the most common ones.

Mild dish soap

Soap and cleaning products on tile background


One of the most common ways to give your leather products a quick clean simply by applying a mixture of warm water and mild dish soap, such as Dawn or Palmolive. As little as three or four drops of the dish soap can be combined with warm water for a very effective leather cleaning mixture. You can apply the solution to your leather products using a microfiber cloth or a lint-free rag.

Buy Palmolive on Amazon.

Distilled vinegar cleaner, Contidioned with Olive Oil 

Vinegar is an effective stain remover, especially when combined with baking soda. After cleaning the couch with vinegar, warm water, and baking soda solution, you’ll want to condition it naturally, too. Applying a light coating of olive oil can help to keep your leather from cracking and drying out. Wipe away any excess oil with a clean, white cloth and allow ample time for the oil to be absorbed before using the couch. 

Buy olive oil on Amazon.

Lemon juice

Lemon juice

There seems to be a limitless number of things that can be cleaned with lemon juice, and leather products are no exception. Lemon juice makes for an effective stain remover on leather products and can be combined with water to naturally lift common household stains such as food, beverages, or pet urine.

Buy lemon juice on Amazon.

How Do You Restore Stained Leather?

Fragment of expensive beige leather sofa to indoors

The restoring of stained leather starts with cleaning the leather surface with a damp cleaning cloth to remove any debris, dirt, or surface stains. This is typically done with a leather cleaner such as Leather Honey Leather Cleaner. After the cleaning solution is worked into the surface, it is wiped away with a clean towel. The next step of the process typically involves applying wax or oil to the leather surface and buffing it with a microfiber cloth or leather cleaning cloth.

Buy Leather Honey Leather Cleaner on Amazon.

Wrapping things up

White leather couches are very delicate, and they can cost you a pretty penny, so it’s worth taking the time to explore the best method to keep them clean and well-maintained. We hope that this post has provided you with the information you were looking for regarding whitening your yellowed leather couch.

Before you go, be sure to check out our other posts:

How To Paint Leather Furniture [5 Steps]

How To Put A Throw On A Leather Sofa

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