Cleaning Leather Furniture

by Emily McBride
(last updated October 15, 2014)

Leather couches and other pieces of furniture are comfortable and look nice. However, it's important to take care of the leather furniture and keep it clean to ensure that it will stay looking nice.

  • Before cleaning. Make sure you know what kind of leather (finished or unfinished, furniture is usually finished) you have. Check to see if there are any tags from the manufacturers on your furniture. Often, tags will have directions on how to clean the kind of leather that the piece of furniture is made of. Many times, the retailer that you have purchased your furniture from will have provided you with cleaning directions and supplies, check to make sure that you did not forget about any that you may have been given. Also, before you use any type of cleaning product, test it on a small, hidden area of the furniture to make sure that it does not change the color. You do not want to damage your leather furniture in the process of cleaning it!
  • General cleaning. Keeping your leather clean will help it to look better and last longer. The best way to do this is, first, to use a vacuum to get rid of any dust or small particles on the furniture. Next, get a cloth slightly wet (you do not want the cloth to be so wet that it leaves water on the furniture). Then, put a small amount of a gentle cleaner on it (like Dove liquid soap. Another option is to mix a solution of water and soap, and then get the cloth wet with that. Gently rub the surface of the leather. Then use a new damp cloth to wipe up the lather left from the soap. To polish the leather, use a new cloth, but do not get it wet this time. When the leather is dry, you can use a leather conditioner to replace some of the moisture.
  • Stains. Do not use water to get rid of grease stains—just wipe the stain with a dry cloth. Ink stains are best removed by using a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol and then immediately drying the area (a blow dryer on a low setting works well). For dark stains, mix one part lemon juice with one part cream of tartar, then rub it onto the area. Let it sit for ten minutes before using a damp rag with soap (like from the general cleaning) to remove the paste.
  • Things to avoid. Do not use any abrasive cleaners because they will scratch the leather. Also, using any kind of oil or furniture polish may leave your furniture sticky. Another way to keep your leather furniture looking nicer is to keep it out of direct sunlight.

Author Bio

Emily McBride

A senior majoring in English and editing at BYU, Emily hopes to enter the field of professional editing upon graduation. Emily has done humanitarian work in Africa and studied in London. She enjoys blogging, foreign films, and playing the piano. ...


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