How To: Clean Leather Furniture
Leather is a surprisingly durable, easy-care upholstery material, but it does require occasional cleaning and triage. If your leather furniture is looking tired, follow our suggestions for perking it right up.
With its rich color and supple feel, leather furniture invites an element of luxury into your room decor. Fortunately, despite its opulence, leather doesn’t require the kind of painstaking maintenance you might associate with other refinements. Inevitably, however, there comes a time in the life of all leather chairs, chaises, or sofas when a little care is called for. Rest assured that it’s not difficult to learn how to clean leather furniture, and the process involves only supplies that most homeowners keep readily at hand.
STEP 1: VACUUM THOROUGHLY
When you set out to clean leather furniture, the first step is to remove all dust and loose debris from the piece. You can do so easily by means of a vacuum cleaner outfitted with a brush attachment. Don’t forget to clean between the cushions of the furniture, if there are any. Once finished, wipe the whole thing down with a cotton or microfiber cloth.
STEP 2: INSPECT THE FURNITURE
Having inspected the furniture in the course of dusting and wiping it down, you now understand which parts of the piece look the worse for wear. These are the areas on which you’re going to focus the lion’s share of your cleaning efforts.
STEP 3: APPLY DILUTED VINEGAR
To address the problem areas, you can use a simple but effective homemade cleaner, comprising equal parts vinegar and water. Mix the two in a small bucket, then dip in the corner of a cloth. Wring out the cloth so that it’s damp but not wet, then proceed to wipe down the soiled parts of the leather. Rinse the cloth after every few strokes to avoid spreading any dirt.
STEP 4: WIPE DOWN THE MATERIAL
Next, follow up with a dry cloth, making sure to go over every area that you treated with the water-and-vinegar solution. At no point during the process should you let the leather become soaking wet; saturation is one of the material’s enemies.
DOS AND DON’TS OF STAIN REMOVAL
Has a careless guest spilled something, and you’re wondering how to clean leather furniture to banish the stain? Don’t despair—you can probably prevent the accident from leaving a permanent stain, but to be successful, you’ll need to work quickly.
Different stains demand different remedies:
- Wipe away grease stains with a clean, dry cloth. Do not add water, because the fluid could help the grease soak into the leather. If the grease has dried by the time you notice it, try sprinkling baking soda onto the area in order to draw out the grease. Leave the baking soda on for a few hours, then brush it off with a rag.
- If there are ink stains on your leather furniture, rubbing alcohol may be the key to removing them. Dab alcohol onto a cotton swab, then wipe the stain until it clears. Keep in mind for the future that many homeowners have reported luck using rubbing alcohol to remove pesky patches of either mold or mildew on furniture.
- White and beige leather are notoriously vulnerable to stains. To remove dark-colored spots from such pieces, opt for a mixture of equal parts lemon juice and cream of tartar. Combine the two into a paste, apply it to the stain, then leave it in place for 10 minutes. Wipe it away with a damp cloth.
Generally speaking, be wary of experimenting with stain removal products on leather; some may do more harm than good. Always first try a cleaning agent on an inconspicuous part of the furniture. That way, if things go awry, nobody is likely to notice!
If none of the above tips or tricks prove helpful, consider seeking the assistance of a pro.