Skip to content

Fake leather, faux leather, pleather — regardless of the name you use, this leather substitute lets you enjoy the look of leather without all the expense. To keep your furniture looking fresh and clean, however, it's critical to know how to handle stains.

​1. Always Spot Test

​Before using any of the below tips on an actual stain, make sure that you test these methods. Don't wait for a stain to occur. Rather, make your cleaner, and try it out on an inconspicuous area of your couch. For example, the bottom of the back panel or underneath the armrest cover are both great spots for testing.

​Testing is essential to ensure that the stain remover doesn't take out the color of your upholstery or cause other reactions. If testing goes well, get ready to deploy the following tactics in your stain fighting arsenal.

​2. Prepare a Cleaning Solution

​To be on the safe side, you should buy or make cleaner long before you ever see a stain on your fake leather couch. You can use a commercial cleaner designed for faux leather, but you certainly don't have to. It's easy to make your own cleaner.

​Simply, mix a few squirts of dish soap into some warm water. Dish soap is gentle, and it's particularly useful for food stains as it breaks down grease. If you like, you can experiment with adding a tablespoon full of laundry detergent, as you test the cleaner. To make dispensing the cleaner easier, consider putting it in a spray bottle.

​3. React As Quickly as Possible

​For best results, you need to get on top of stains as soon as they happen. If you've spilled food, remove any chunks as fast as possible. Then, start blotting the liquid, using a clean rag or paper towel.

​Blotting is gently patting a towel on top of the spill to remove excess liquid. At this point, don't scrub — that will push the liquid deeper into the leather. Just gently blot until you've removed the excess moisture.

​4. Scrub the Stain

​Once you've removed the majority of the spill, you can start to scrub the stain. Spray the area with your cleaner — just mist the area at first and add more cleaner as needed. If you're not using a spray bottle, moisten a clean white cloth in your solution. Ideally, you need enough water to "wash" the stain out but not enough to drench the furniture.

​Gently scrub the stain in a circular motion. Make sure to change the part of your cloth you are using as it gets dirty. That's why it's important to use a white cloth — colored rags can get dirty without you noticing, and as a result, you may just scrub the dirt back into the upholstery.

​If it's a large stain, work on a small part at a time. As each section gets clean, move to the next section.

​5. Use Baby Wipes for Little Stains

​For small stains, it can help to have a pack of baby wipes on hand. Consider keeping a small pack on your coffee table or somewhere else near your couch. Then, attack little stains and spills as they occur.

​6. Condition

​After you've fully removed the stain and the area has dried, you may want to condition the faux leather. This is especially important if you see cracks or if the recently cleaned area doesn't match the rest of the upholstery. Buy conditioner designed for your material of couch, and gently massage it in as needed.