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leather sofa

How To Clean Leather

by Nick, Digital Specialist | October 3, 2021

Leather is popular for its rich feel and soft hand...but how do you keep it looking and feeling its best?


(editor's note: this is from a larger article about leather care from BHG.com)

When it comes to purchasing new furniture, you might experience some last-minute doubts about what material is best for you and your home. With so many upholstery fabric options on the market, it can be difficult to determine which material will meet your needs regarding durability, aesthetics, and ease of cleaning. If you're considering leather furniture, there are many reasons why this material makes an excellent choice for upholstered pieces. However, it takes some specific know-how to keep leather looking its best, so it's important to recognize how leather care instructions differ from other fabrics.

Use our guide to learn how to clean and care for leather furniture so you can make your next purchase in complete confidence. We'll also show you how to clean other leather items, including leather jackets and shoes, so you can effectively tackle any dirt or stains and keep the material looking great for years to come.

General Leather Cleaning Tips
Most leather furniture and apparel today are protected, which makes them pretty simple to clean yourself. If you're not sure whether the leather is finished, lightly scratch the material with your fingernail in an inconspicuous area. If it leaves a mark, consider hiring a leather-cleaning expert to take care of it. If there's no mark, feel free to clean the surface using these tips.

1. Always try any cleaning method in a hidden area first to determine how it will affect the material.

2. For minor spots and spills, wipe up any excess liquid immediately with a clean absorbent cloth or sponge. If necessary, use a lightly moistened soft cloth with clean lukewarm water, and let it air dry naturally. If water is used, clean the entire area where the spot occurred.

3. Do not use cleaning solvents, furniture polish, oils, varnish, abrasive cleaners, or ammonia water.

4. For butter, oil, or grease stains, wipe off excess with a clean dry cloth, then leave it alone. The spot should dissipate into the leather after a short period of time. You can also try sprinkling it with baking soda or corn starch. Let it sit overnight, then wipe or vacuum off. If this doesn't work, try rubbing alcohol. Apply a leather cleaner-conditioner after removing the spot.

5. If the stain persists, it is recommended that a professional leather specialist clean the leather to avoid any potential damage to the leather itself.

6. For minor or slight scratches on the surface, use a chamois cloth or clean fingers to gently buff the scratch. If needed, moisten lightly with distilled water to work scratches out.

How to Clean a Leather Sofa or Chair
Under normal usage/conditions, regular dusting and vacuuming in crevices or along the bottom are all that is necessary to clean leather furniture. Dust your leather couch or chair with a microfiber cloth that's just barely dampened with water. Vacuum the cushions with a stiff-bristle upholstery brush, and break out the crevice tool for corners and other hard-to-reach areas. The use of a good leather conditioner is recommended every 6-12 months to prevent cracking and keep it looking good for longer. (Always check with the leather furniture manufacturer before applying any product.). To keep up the look of your leather sofa, protect your furniture from sun and direct light. Like any upholstery material, leather can fade to some degree if exposed to the sun.