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How to Clean Leather Furniture

Tips on Every Day Maintenance and Removing Stains


How to Clean Leather Furniture

Sleeper Sofa With Ottoman

Photo (c) Neiman Marcus

Leather furniture is easy to clean and maintain. At least most of the time. Barring a few emergencies where you are better off calling a professional, you can maintain leather fairly easily. It is a very forgiving material.

While leather furniture is expensive, but the investment pays off as it can easily last a lifetime with just a little everyday care. Before looking elsewhere for tips on cleaning and maintenance, it is best to follow instruction from your manufacturer, because different types of leather furniture may require different methods of cleaning.

However, if your leather furniture did not come with instructions:

  • Try the gentlest cleaning methods first.
  • Always test in an inconspicuous spot.
  • Consult a professional if the stain is hard to remove.
  • Use a wiping motion and don't scrub.
  • NEVER use harsh chemicals, alcohol, strong detergents or abrasive cleaners to clean leather. All of these may cause irreparable damage to your leather sofa. Remember that when cleaning leather, gentler is always better, and strong abrasives cause more damage than any stain that may happen.

Everyday Cleaning and Care

  • Wipe down leather furniture with a clean, soft, white cloth every week or so. Do this more frequently in a dusty environment. Why white? A white cloth ensures that you don't deposit dyes on your leather couch by mistake, and it is also easy to see if you have removed all the dirt.
  • Vacuum your leather furniture from from time to time, just as you would for any other upholstery material.
  • But unlike other upholstery, you can use a damp, soft cloth to remove dirt build up if you have not been cleaning it regularly. Just make sure your cleaning cloth is damp, not soaking wet.

Grease Stains

  • Grease stains do not call for a damp cleaning cloth, because you will not be able to get the grease out with water. For these it is best to use a dry, soft cloth and use a blotting action. Press down to blot up as much grease from the leather surface as you can.
  • Use talcum powder or cornstarch, and sprinkle on the leather surface. Allow to sit for a while and then brush away using a brush with soft bristles. You may have to repeat this process a couple of times. Do not rub. This technique also works on fabric.

Water Stains

  • The best remedy is to blot with a soft cloth immediately, as soon as the spill occurs.
  • If the water has dried, use a soft damp cloth and starting from the stain wipe outwards towards the edges of the cushion in all directions. Again, no scrubbing, only wipe gently. Use less and less moisture as you go outward. This technique provides a uniform effect for the entire treated leather surface, while minimizing the stain.

Ink Stains

  • Ink stains on leather are among the hardest to remove, and may need to be cleaned by a professional depending on the kind of ink, and the severity of the stain. As with any other stain, fresh ink stains are easier to remove.
  • Small marks, such as those from ball point pens, may disappear on their own over a period of time. You can also try cleaning smaller stains using a gentle soap solution.
  • Big blobs of ink will need to be treated professionally. Do not use alcohol to clean your leather furniture, as you could potentially damage the color.
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