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How to Clean and Sanitize Leather

Leather needs special care to help it retain its beauty. Leather couches are a special challenge when exposed to germs, but can be cleaned and sanitized with the same technique as other leather items.

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By Mary Gagliardi
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Made from the hides of animals, finished leather is a natural material that requires special care. Only products that won’t dry it out or cause cracking should be used. This makes caring for leather items more of a challenge, especially when they have been exposed to germs. 

Fortunately, now you can sanitize leather with Clorox® Disinfecting Mist when it’s time to kill germs on your favorite leather couch, purse, boots, wallet and clothes. 

Since the same techniques can be used on small and large finished leather items, we provide details for how to clean and sanitize a leather couch. You can adapt the technique for smaller, easier items. 

Start by cleaning the leather item (if necessary), and then spray on the sanitizer to kill 99.9% of bacteria like Staph. 

Do not use Clorox® Disinfecting Mist on suede or nubuck, or any unfinished leather surface.

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Gather your supplies

Steps to clean and sanitize a leather couch

  1. 1

    Dust, then vacuum the couch

    Use the microfiber cloth to pick up any dust from the surface of the couch and the cushions. Use the vacuum’s crevice tool to remove dirt and pet hair from inside seams and behind cushions.

  2. 2

    Wipe the leather with the cleaner

    Gently wipe the body of the couch with a leather cleaning wipe to remove any soils. Wipe the cushions, too.

  3. 3

    Spray with Clorox® Disinfecting Mist

    Test in an inconspicuous area first. Hold the trigger 6–8 inches from the surface of the couch and spray lightly over it until wet; do not saturate.


    To sanitize, the surface should remain wet for 1 minute.

  4. 4

    Allow to air dry

    Replace cushions when the couch has dried completely. Always use as directed.

The steps to clean and sanitize a leather couch are the same ones you’d use to clean other items made with leather. Depending on the item, vacuuming may not be necessary, but you should still wipe any dust off the surface before cleaning.

Never use Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach, or any other product containing sodium hypochlorite, to treat any type of leather or animal hide.

Frequently asked questions

Can I sanitize leather without cleaning it first?

If your leather item is newer or has recently been cleaned, and you are only interested in sanitizing it to kill germs, then you can skip the cleaning step and just spray Clorox® Disinfecting Mist onto the surface as directed.