Leather furniture is easy on the eye and a total luxury to the senses. Leather is often more valuable than regular upholstery.

It also gains more value over time and ages well. Your leather sofa can look prettier 5 years from today if it’s well maintained.

Your nice leather pieces might also acquire a few stains, so what’s the best way to handle these spots?

Clean leather furniture

Here’s how to clean leather furniture in 12 simple steps.

Get the Necessary Information

Cleaning is a project that takes planning and a bit of self-education

Read the Labels

It’s always wise to read the manufacturers’ recommendations before you start cleaning. There are two sets of labels: The ones on the fabric, and those on the cleaning products.

The labels sometimes show overconfidence, but always try your cleaning product on a hidden spot, just to be sure. When in doubt, don’t use water on your leather furniture.

Know Your Fabric

Leather comes in three basic varieties:

Natural or Aniline Leather

Pretty much don’t use any solvents, cleaning products, or water with that type of leather. It’s the least treated and most valuable type of leather.

Use a feather brush and dry cloth to clean it, and if it needs more care call in professional help.

Treated or Semi-Aniline Leather

This kind retains the look and feel of the original hyde, but it has a thin coating. You have some flexibility with semi-aniline leather.

Pigmented or Protected Leather

This is the kind of leather that comes in a variety of colors. Your cleaning options are broader with this type.

Get What You Need

Proper planning means that you’ll save time and effort. Your job will be much easier if you have all that you need at your fingertips.

This is a starter list with the basics:

  • Clean dry cloth
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Proper brush set
  • Mild soap and water
  • Stain remover for leather
  • Saddle Cleaner
  • Leather Conditioner

Vacuum the Outside

Vacuum leather furniture

Before you clean any surface, you need to make sure all the dust is removed. This applies to leather and everything else.

Use a soft brush to vacuum the outside surfaces of your furniture. Use the lowest possible setting on your vacuum cleaner, you don’t want the leather to become ‘pinched’.

Remove the Cushions

Remove the small cushions first. Give them a good dusting and put them aside. Make sure you don’t throw them on the floor because they’re very sensitive and can scratch easily.

Now remove the larger seat cushions and armrests and make sure you dust their lower sides lightly too. Set them aside beside the small cushions.

Vacuum the Inside

The inside of your sofas and armchairs is where the crumbs and debris collect. Change the vacuum cleaner tip and use a pointed or wedge-shaped brush.

Be gentle and use a low setting, but make sure that all the dirt is gone.

Wipe the Surface

Wipe leather

This is a tricky step! You need to remove the greasy and dark areas from the furniture, but any excess water will spoil the leather. It feels a bit like walking on eggshells!

Don’t get worked up, and clean your furniture confidently using these tips:

  • Always use a humid cloth, not a wet one.
  • Put your cleaning product on the cloth rather than directly to the leather.
  • Test your cleaning product on a remote spot.

Wipe the whole surface starting from the top down, and from one side to the other.

Dry the Leather Thoroughly

Use a clean cloth and wipe off the cleaned surface. Avoid using a blow dryer, leather doesn’t like hot air.

Just let it air-dry for a couple of hours.

Treat the Easy Spots

These appear after your initial wipe off. You’ll possibly find some grease, coffee stains, juice spills, and the worst of all: ink marks.

Go for the grease first, it should be easy. Sprinkle some bicarbonate soda on the grease stain, leave it for a few minutes, then dab at it with a clean dry cloth. The grease should come off.

You might need to re-apply the cleaning solution of step 6.

Tend to the Harder Spots

There are some DIY ideas for stain removers like vinegar or lemon and water. With leather, it’s best to be cautious, and a specialized stain remover is probably the better option.

Saddle soap is usually good for medium stains. Use specialized commercial stain remover for stubborn ones, but make sure it says ‘Leather’ on the label.

Saddle soap

Follow the cleaning product’s guidelines, and as always, test on a hidden spot first.

Moisturize the Leather

This step should maintain the softness of the leather and keep it from becoming cracked. You can make a DIY solution by mixing lemon oil with white vinegar. You can also use a commercial leather conditioner.

Work in broad soft circular movements. This should keep the leather from becoming depressed or creased.

Polish the Furniture

Leave your leather furniture to dry overnight. The next day, re-apply the conditioner in smaller amounts.

Use a clean dry cloth to remove any excess, and voila, your furniture is sparkling clean!

Get Professional Help if Needed

You might discover a few cuts or scratches on your sofa. This is quite possible especially if you have pets around the house. You might also see a few more stains that survived all your cleaning arsenal.

Professional leather cleaners could sort this out, but make sure they’re specialized in leather furniture, not in leather textiles.

A Few More Tips

If you were wondering before how to clean leather furniture, now you know it’s a simple process. You can repeat this easy maintenance every 4-6 months.

Leather isn’t fond of high temperatures. Try to place your furniture away from direct sunlight, air conditioners, radiators, and especially the fireplace.

It doesn’t bear scratching much too, so you might want to put your precious Joybird sofa in a room that’s not frequented by kitty.

Deal with stains as soon as they happen. Waiting usually makes a temporary stain more permanent. We don’t always feel like cleaning up, but that’s all for a good cause.

Your furniture with thank you for all the care and attention and repay that with looking and feeling so rich.

Furniture consultant and founder , FurnitureCap
Hi, I’m a furniture consultant with the industry expertise. I worked with the most prominent furniture and home goods retailers in the US and had a chance to see this industry from the inside. My 8+ years of experience in furniture production management made it clear for me how crucial it is to know what stores and manufacturers you can or cannot trust.
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Furniture consultant and founder , FurnitureCap
Hi, I’m a furniture consultant with the industry expertise. I worked with the most prominent furniture and home goods retailers in the US and had a chance to see this industry from the inside. My 8+ years of experience in furniture production management made it clear for me how crucial it is to know what stores and manufacturers you can or cannot trust.
follow me
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