How to Clean Leather Furniture

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Leather furniture exudes elegance and class to the living room decor like nothing else. It’s a natural and classy fashion statement that lends the interiors an effortless look. Not to forget, it also has an intoxicating fragrance and a rich feel. Perfect to play your favorite console games or Netflix and chill.

But like all good things, leather requires proper maintenance. Fortunately, leather it’s quite easy to clean it but you need to be wary of what you use on it.

Reputed leather manufacturers say that many of their clients damage the furniture by using a host of abrasive cleaners from shoe polish to hair-care products.

It’s necessary to read the cleaning instructions on your furniture properly as different kinds of leather have varied requirements. Also, note that using the wrong type of cleaners would lead to the voiding of the warranty. 

So, the first thing you need to know is the right time for deep cleaning your leather furniture. Here’s a complete step-by-step guide to clean leather furniture and other essential tips to maintain it.

How To Clean Leather Furniture?

When cleaning an item as delicate and expensive as pure leather furniture, you shouldn’t resort to DIY remedies. DIY cleaners like vinegar and mayonnaise are better suited to cleaning up tougher propositions like tiles. For leather, you need to be selective.

Professional leather cleaning experts recommend only non-detergent soaps and professional leather cleaning conditioners. Using an abrasive cleaning product can be more harmful to your furniture. Here is an effective way to clean up your valuable leather.

What you’ll need

1. Commercial Leather Conditioner

2. Distilled Water

3. Microfiber cloth

4. A vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment

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5. Mild non-detergent liquid soap like Dove or Neutrogena. You should go for soaps with neutral pH or get a commercial leather cleaner

6. Tarp or drop cloth


Step 1: Vacuum the leather couch to eliminate any visible dust particles and crumbs. Dust it properly to remove any dirt lingering on the surface. Fortunately, leather surfaces clean faster than other types of furniture. Also, vacuum the undersides of the cushion and the crevices in recliners.

Step 2: Mix dishwashing liquid with warm water and dip a cloth in it. Remove the stains by dabbing in small circles. Avoid rubbing it vigorously which might cause irreparable damage. Read further for a complete guide to cleaning stains.

Step 3: Dry the furniture but don’t let it dry in the air. If you let it dry on its own, the dampness would weaken it. Use a clean towel to dry it completely.

Step 4: It’s time to use your leather cleaners and conditioners. This will help remove the sticky and stubborn dirt particles hanging in there. Spray your leather cleaner or the dish soap on a microfiber cloth and wipe lightly. Cover every nook and cranny, don’t miss any part. Avoid spraying directly on the furniture to prevent spray marks.

Step 5: Pour some conditioner on a cloth and rub it along the surface. This would enhance the fragrance and make your leather look fresh and moisturized. 

Allow it to dry before grabbing snacks and sitting comfortably for your Netflix binge sessions. An hour or so would be enough for the conditioner to seep in completely.

Removing Stains From Leather Furniture

Your worst fears have come true. Your favorite leather couch has been maligned with an ugly ink or food stain. We know you can’t wait to get rid of it. But it’s a good decision you took to do a little research before attacking the stain with an abrasive liquid and some rough hands.

Here’s how you can clean two infamous stains that are hard to remove from leather furniture:

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Removing Ink Stains

The rule of thumb is to avoid using sketch pens and markers on leather couches. But kids being kids do what you tell them not to. If your kid loves to draw around your furniture, follow these steps properly:

Step 1: For protected leather goods, make a solution of mild detergent soap and lukewarm water. Clean it with a damp soft cloth.

Step 2: Lightly dab the area around the stain and avoid being too rough on it. 

Step 3: Use a clean cloth for blotting. Never use a hairdryer. Leave it to air dry or use a fan.

Removing Grease Stains

Grease stains are as hard to eliminate from leather as ink stains. Unfortunately, some of these stains can cause irreparable damage. But if you still managed to drop your oily meal or other greasy products on your couch, follow this cleaning method.

Step 1: Use Leather DeGreasers from Uniters or Furniture Clinic on areas that are visibly dark due to oil stains.

Step 2: Blot the area with a clean, dry cloth as soon as you see the oil or food stain. Sprinkle some talcum powder, flour, or cornstarch—whichever’s near you—to eliminate the oil. Preferably, let it sit overnight or at least a few hours until the powder saturates.

Step 3: Wipe it with another clean cloth. Protect it from water. Use a conditioner to wash out if the stain remains. 

Do’s and Don’ts Of Cleaning Leather Furniture

1. Clean up as soon as you see a stain

Act immediately as leather stains can quickly blend in and become hard to remove. Cleaning quickly will increase the chances of getting rid of it.

2. Clean regularly

Cleaning your leather furniture regularly is half the job done. Because most of the stains and marks that develop on your furniture are the result of dirt setting in over a long time. Wiping the leather every week or so will remove these particles while they are weak and on the surface.

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3. Avoid using too much water

Most leather cleaners are water-based. You can further mix liquid soap with lukewarm water. But in the process don’t forget that water can weaken the fabric and develop cracks in it. Limit water usage. Use in small amounts and increase slightly as you clean up the stains.

4. Condition after cleaning

Using water-based cleaners on leather can dry out natural oils from the leather. The natural oils are the heart of leather and lend it its shine and fragrance. Use conditioners to keep your furniture soft and fresh.

5. Test the leather cleaners

Always apply the cleaners to a hidden spot to ensure they don’t react adversely with the leather. Avoid using abrasive cleaners and rubbing back and forth with harsh hands to avoid physical damage.

6. Check the cleaning instructions

Check the cleaning codes on the furniture or go through the instructions manual you received with your couch. If you can’t find it, contact the manufacturer for proper cleaning instructions.

How Often Should You Clean Leather?

  • You don’t want to make any mistakes when it comes to your expensive leather goods. It’s neither good to clean it too often nor leave it dirty for long. The leather furniture at your home should be cleaned with a conditioner once a year.
  • Of course, leather furniture and goods that are used often should be cleaned more frequently i.e. once every 6 months or so.
  • There’s also a difference between the longevity of leather, based on its darkness. The dark-colored leather is fine with an annual cleaning but you need to clean up light-colored leather every six months.

If you are not able to remove stains using the above methods, don’t go too hard on the leather. Instead, seek professional cleaning help. Similarly, you should contact professional cleaners to remove stains from unprotected leather. It’s better to spend some money on professional cleaning than ruining your costly furniture with some abrasive cleaners.

Written by Pulkit D

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