Tips for Cleaning Leather Furniture

Leather furniture adds a sense of elegance and class to your home interior. They are also durable and low-maintenance, so they’re very forgiving even with the least bit of care. However, dirt, dust, and stains happen inevitably, which forms ugly blemishes if not removed. To help keep your leather furniture in pristine condition, here’s what you should know:

Steps for cleaning a leather furniture

Cleaning and maintaining sofas is a tricky task because you can’t just wipe it down with a wet cloth. And using harsh cleaning chemicals like bleach and ammonia-based products can ruin your leather. Here’s how to clean it properly:

1. Get rid of dust using a vacuum

Remove all the cushions from your couch and vacuum the surfaces with a soft brush attachment. Make sure you pay extra attention to the crevices because it is where dust, debris, and any snack crumbs might be lingering.

2. Create a cleaning solution

In a small bowl with water, add a few drops of mild, non-detergent moisturizing liquid soap (such as Dove or Neutrogena). Or you can use a commercial leather cleaner and mix a few drops with water.

3. Do a patch test

Damp a cloth (preferably microfiber cloth) with your cleaning solution. Make sure it’s just damp, not wet. Test the cleaning solution in an inconspicuous spot on your furniture to make sure there’s no discoloration caused by the soap and water. If it doesn’t cause any damage, it means the cleaner is fine for use.

4. Wipe entire furniture

Wipe the entire furniture, whether it’s a couch, a sofa, chair or ottoman, with your cloth dampened by your cleaning solution. Start wiping from the top and work your way down.

5. Rinse with cloth

Dampen another clean cloth with water and wipe the furniture again. Don’t rinse it with water only as it might damage the leather.

6. Dry with cloth

Dry your furniture with a clean towel. Don’t be tempted to use a blow dryer because it will dehydrate the leather.

Removing stains on your leather furniture

Leather furniture can be prone to stains and dirt build-up, so you must know what to do in case these things happen. If your furniture is already stained, here are the ways to fix it:

  • Mold and mildew – Treat the affected area using a solution of equal parts water and rubbing alcohol. Damp a cloth or cotton swab with it and rub into your furniture.
  • Permanent marker, ballpoint pen, and ink stains – If you have a kid at home, chances are he/she has been tempted to scribble something on your sofa. Try rubbing permanent marker stains using aerosol hairspray. Eucalyptus oil and rubbing alcohol can be used as well; simply dip a cotton swab in any of these and rub it on the stain.
  • Grease stains – On the affected area, sprinkle some baking soda and let it sit for a few hours. Dust it off and rinse with a damp cloth. The baking soda will work by absorbing the oils, leaving your couch clean.
  • Dark-colored stains and other stubborn stains – Make a leather-friendly, natural stain remover by making a paste. Mix one part lemon juice and one part cream of tartar, then rub it on the stained surface. Leave it on for about 10 minutes. Repeat the procedure, then finally rub it off with a damp sponge.

Steps for keeping leather supple

After cleaning or removing stains, you might notice that your leather furniture isn’t as shiny as it used to be. It’s best to condition it to keep it supple and in a good condition. Here’s what you should do:

1. Mix ingredients in a spray bottle

Mix one part vinegar and 2 parts linseed oil or flaxseed oil in an empty and clean spray bottle. Shake well.

2. Apply solution on leather furniture

Spray the solution to leather furniture. Using a soft cloth, rub it in the furniture in broad circular motions. This will help the leather absorb the material. Leave it on overnight.

3. Buff it up

The next day, buff the couch or chair with a lint-free cloth to restore shine and keep it polished.

Additional cleaning and maintenance tips:

  • Cleaning, in the way listed above, must only be done at least twice a year or every three months. For regular weekly cleaning, you can simply wipe the couch with a dry cloth or dust it off using a feather duster. Cleaning it with a vacuum cleaner works best too if the couch is used heavily.
  • Attend to any spills and stains immediately, or else the fluid or stain will penetrate the dye and leave spots. If a liquid has spilled, blot it out with a cloth as soon as possible. If it is stained, let’s say by a spaghetti spillage, wipe it out quickly with a damp cloth.
  • Don’t expose your leather furniture to direct sunlight. Too much light can age and dry the leather, which leads to discoloration and cracking. Keep it at least two feet away from sources of heat, like a wide window, heating vents, and air-conditioning systems.
  • If your leather furniture has stubborn spots and stains that can’t be removed with the methods stated above, it’s best to let a professional cleaner take care of it rather than experimenting with different methods, which can end up ruining your furniture.


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