Leather is a classic upholstery material found in many homes—for good reason. It’s versatile, it can last a lifetime and it adds timeless style to any space. Despite some misconceptions, leather is actually pretty easy to care for—cleaning leather furniture is not complicated or difficult. Just remember to wipe up spills as soon as they happen, and avoid using standard cleaning supplies like detergents and upholstery cleaner, which can cause fading or discoloring.
Always refer to the furniture manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to caring for and cleaning your leather furniture, as there may be special requirements for your specific type of leather. In lieu of instructions, the safest bet is to be as gentle as possible, and avoid harsh cleaners. Even using too much water can leave stains on leather, so take extra care when cleaning to avoid worsening the problem.
Vacuum & Wipe Clean
Start by gently vacuuming the leather or wiping it with a dry microfiber cloth to remove dirt and dust. Doing this regularly will prevent buildup and should be sufficient to keep the leather looking clean from day to day. If it’s been a while since you cleaned your leather furniture, use a slightly damp cloth to remove the dirt.
Clean with Mild Soap
In the case of spills or stains, start by gently blotting the area to absorb as much of it as possible. Avoid wiping, which can spread the stain further.
To clean the area, use a small amount of water and very mild soap. Test the soap first by applying it to an inconspicuous area and letting it dry. Clean by moistening a soft cloth slightly, wiping it across the bar of soap (or using a drop of liquid soap) and gently buffing the leather clean. Use a gentle circular motion-don’t scrub too hard. Don’t soak the leather with too much water, and don’t rinse the soap when you’re done—just wipe with a dry cloth.
Removing Tough Stains from Leather
Remember to clean up spills as quickly as possible to prevent stains from developing in the first place. Leather is generally a forgiving and durable material that can last a lifetime if cared for properly. However, despite its durability and shiny surface, leather is not stain-proof.
Start by spot-cleaning stains as described above. If that doesn’t help, try a commercial leather cleaning solution—but again, make sure to test it first to make sure it doesn’t discolor your leather.
Grease stains are sometimes best removed with a dry cloth—just gently dab and blot the area. If the grease stain persists, sprinkle cornstarch or baking soda on the area, let it sit for a few hours, then brush it away gently. This should absorb the grease effectively. If not, many grease or oil stains will dissipate eventually into the leather, so sometimes the best solution is patience!
Set-in stains or ink stains may require help from a professional. When in doubt, defer to a professional cleaning service. They will know exactly how to clean your leather furniture so you can enjoy it for years to come.
Condition Leather Regularly
Finally, keep your furniture looking clean, shiny and healthy by using a good-quality leather conditioner or cream every 6-12 months. This process helps restore natural moisture to the leather, repair scratches and bring back that new-leather shine.