How Do You Clean And Care For Leather Furniture?

Leather furniture adds a touch of elegance and sophistication to any space, but knowing how to properly clean and care for it is essential to maintain its timeless beauty. With the right techniques and tools, you can keep your leather furniture looking polished and pristine for years to come. In this article, we will explore the best practices for cleaning and caring for leather furniture, ensuring that your investment continues to shine.

Regular Maintenance

Caring for your leather furniture doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With regular maintenance, you can keep your leather furniture looking its best for years to come. Here are some simple steps to incorporate into your routine:

Dust and Vacuum Regularly

Dust and dirt can accumulate on the surface of your leather furniture over time, making it look dull and worn. To prevent this, make sure to dust your furniture regularly with a soft cloth or a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment. This will help remove any loose particles and keep your leather looking clean and vibrant.

Rotate and Fluff Cushions

Leather furniture can develop indentations and sagging in areas where you sit or rest your feet. To prevent this, it’s a good idea to rotate your cushions periodically. This will help distribute the weight evenly, ensuring that your furniture stays comfortable and maintains its shape. Additionally, fluffing the cushions can help restore their fullness and reduce any signs of wear.

Avoid Direct Sunlight and Heat

Excessive exposure to sunlight and heat can cause your leather furniture to fade, crack, and dry out. To protect your investment, avoid placing your furniture in direct sunlight or near heat sources such as radiators or fireplaces. If possible, use curtains or blinds to block out the sun’s rays during the brightest parts of the day. This simple precaution can go a long way in preserving the beauty and longevity of your leather furniture.

Removing Stains

Accidents happen, and when it comes to leather furniture, it’s important to address stains promptly to prevent them from setting in. Here are some steps to follow when dealing with stains:

Identify the Type of Stain

Before attempting to remove a stain, it’s crucial to identify the type of stain you’re dealing with. Different stains may require different cleaning approaches, so knowing what you’re dealing with will help you choose the most effective solution.

Blot the Stain Immediately

As soon as a spill occurs, grab a clean cloth or paper towel and gently blot the stain. Avoid rubbing or scrubbing, as this can push the stain deeper into the leather. Blotting helps to absorb as much of the liquid as possible, minimizing the chance of it seeping further into the leather and causing a permanent mark.

Use Mild Soap and Water

For most stains, a simple solution of mild soap and lukewarm water can be effective. Dip a clean cloth into the soapy water, wring it out to remove excess moisture, and gently clean the stained area. Again, avoid scrubbing or rubbing too vigorously as this can damage the leather. After cleaning, make sure to dry the area thoroughly with a clean cloth.

Try Commercial Leather Cleaner

If the stain proves to be stubborn or if you’re unsure about using soap and water, you can also try a commercial leather cleaner. These products are specifically designed to remove stains from leather without causing damage. Follow the instructions on the cleaner carefully and test it in an inconspicuous area first to ensure compatibility with your leather furniture.

Test in an Inconspicuous Area

It’s always a good idea to test any cleaning solution or commercial cleaner in an inconspicuous area of your leather furniture before applying it to the stain. This will help you determine if the product causes any discoloration or damage. Once you’re confident that it’s safe to use, you can proceed with cleaning the stain.

Treating Specific Stains

Different types of stains require different approaches for effective removal. Here are some specific treatments for common stains that may occur on your leather furniture:

Ink Stains

Ink stains can be particularly challenging to remove from leather. To tackle them, use rubbing alcohol or non-acetone nail polish remover on a clean cloth. Gently dab the stained area, being careful not to rub too hard. Repeat this process until the ink stain fades, and then clean the area with mild soap and water as mentioned earlier.

Oil and Grease Stains

To remove oil or grease stains from your leather furniture, start by blotting up any excess oil with a clean cloth. Avoid rubbing the stain, as this may spread it further. Sprinkle a small amount of cornstarch or talcum powder on the affected area and let it sit for several hours or overnight. The powder will help absorb the oil. Afterward, gently brush off the powder with a soft cloth and clean the area with mild soap and water.

Water Stains

Water stains can occur when spills or excessive moisture penetrate the surface of the leather. To remove these stains, lightly dampen a clean cloth with distilled water and gently wipe the affected area. Make sure not to saturate the leather with water, as it can cause further damage. Once you’ve wiped away the stain, allow the leather to dry naturally and then condition it (more on conditioning later).

Food and Beverage Stains

Food and beverage stains are common on leather furniture, especially in households with children or pets. Treat these stains by gently wiping away any excess food or liquid with a clean cloth. If the stain persists, clean the area with mild soap and water, being careful not to use too much water. Dry the leather thoroughly and follow up with a leather conditioner to ensure the leather remains soft and supple.

Conditioning the Leather

Leather conditioning is essential to keep your furniture looking and feeling its best. Conditioning helps moisturize the leather, preventing it from drying out, cracking, and losing its natural luster. Here’s how to condition your leather furniture:

Choose the Right Leather Conditioner

Not all leather conditioners are created equal, so it’s important to choose a product specifically formulated for furniture. Opt for a conditioner that is free of harsh chemicals and contains natural ingredients, as these tend to be gentler on the leather. Read the instructions on the conditioner carefully to ensure proper usage.

Clean the Surface

Before conditioning, it’s essential to clean the surface of your leather furniture to remove any dirt, dust, or residue. Use a soft, lint-free cloth to wipe down the furniture, ensuring that you reach all the nooks and crevices. If needed, you can also use a mild soap and water solution to remove any stubborn dirt or stains, making sure to dry the leather thoroughly afterward.

Apply the Conditioner

Once the surface is clean and dry, it’s time to apply the leather conditioner. Pour a small amount of conditioner onto a clean, dry cloth and gently rub it into the leather using circular motions. Make sure to cover the entire surface of the furniture, paying extra attention to areas that may be prone to dryness or cracking. Allow the conditioner to be absorbed into the leather for the recommended amount of time specified by the manufacturer.

Buff the Leather

After the conditioner has been absorbed, use a clean cloth to buff the leather. This will help remove any excess conditioner and restore a lustrous shine to the furniture. Buffing also helps improve the absorption of the conditioner into the leather, ensuring that it penetrates deeply and provides maximum protection and nourishment.

Dealing with Wear and Tear

Over time, your leather furniture may develop scratches, cracks, or signs of fading and discoloration. Knowing how to deal with these common signs of wear and tear can help prolong the life of your furniture and keep it looking its best.

Repairing Scratches and Cracks

Minor scratches can often be repaired using a leather repair kit or by applying a leather conditioner with a restorative agent. For deeper scratches or cracks, it may be necessary to seek professional help. Avoid using household products or DIY solutions, as these can potentially worsen the damage.

Handling Fading and Discoloration

Depending on the type of leather and the amount of exposure to sunlight, your furniture may experience fading or discoloration over time. To prevent further damage, it’s best to place your furniture away from direct sunlight and use curtains or blinds to block out the rays. If discoloration does occur, consult a professional leather restoration specialist who can assess the situation and provide appropriate treatment.

Preventing Drying and Cracking

Drying and cracking are common problems with leather furniture, especially in dry environments or with neglectful care. To prevent these issues, make sure to regularly clean and condition your leather furniture, as mentioned earlier. Additionally, avoid placing your furniture near heating vents or radiators, as the excessive heat can cause the leather to dry out and crack. By taking these preventative measures, you can help your leather furniture maintain its beauty and durability.

Protective Measures

Protecting your leather furniture from potential damage is just as important as cleaning and maintaining it. Here are some protective measures you can take to preserve the lifespan of your furniture:

Use Leather Furniture Protectors

Consider investing in leather furniture protectors to shield your furniture from spills, stains, and general wear and tear. These protective covers are typically made from breathable materials that allow the leather to breathe while providing a barrier against potential damage. Look for protectors that are specifically designed for your type of furniture and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper usage.

Keep Pets Away

While pets can bring us joy and companionship, they can also inadvertently cause damage to our leather furniture. Sharp claws, chewing habits, and accidents can all harm the leather surface. To protect your furniture, consider creating safe boundaries for your pets or providing them with their own designated areas or furniture. Regular grooming and nail trimming can also help minimize the risk of scratch damage.

Avoid Sharp Objects

Be mindful of sharp objects in close proximity to your leather furniture. Accidental scratches or punctures from sharp objects such as keys, scissors, or utensils can leave unsightly marks on your furniture. To prevent this, designate safe areas for these items or ensure they are kept away from the furniture. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to protecting your investment.

Professional Cleaning

While regular maintenance is essential, there are times when professional cleaning is necessary to restore your leather furniture to its former glory. Here are some considerations when opting for professional cleaning:

Timing for Professional Cleaning

The frequency of professional cleaning depends on several factors, including the amount of use, exposure to dirt or stains, and general wear and tear. As a general guideline, professional cleaning every 12 to 18 months is recommended for most leather furniture. However, if your furniture experiences heavy use or shows signs of significant staining or damage, it may require more frequent professional attention.

Choosing a Professional Cleaner

When selecting a professional cleaner, it’s important to do your research and choose a reputable service provider. Look for companies that specialize in leather furniture cleaning and restoration, and read reviews or ask for recommendations from friends or family who have had positive experiences. Additionally, inquire about the cleaning methods used and ensure they align with the specific needs of your leather furniture.

Preparation for Professional Cleaning

Before the professionals arrive, it’s helpful to prepare your furniture for the cleaning process. Remove any loose objects from the furniture, such as pillows, throws, or decor items. Clear the area around the furniture and ensure there is ample space for the cleaning team to work efficiently. Communicate any specific concerns or problem areas to the professionals so they can address them effectively.

Dealing with Odors

Unpleasant odors can sometimes develop in leather furniture, especially if spills or accidents have occurred. Here are some steps to combat odors effectively:

Removing Mild Odors

For mild odors, start by airing out the room and allowing fresh air to circulate around the furniture. Remove any sources of odor, such as dirty laundry or food items, from the vicinity. Disinfect the area with a fabric-friendly spray or a mixture of vinegar and water. As the leather dries, the odor should dissipate.

Using Baking Soda

Baking soda is a natural deodorizer that can help neutralize and absorb odors from leather furniture. Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the affected area and let it sit for several hours or overnight. Once the baking soda has had time to work its magic, vacuum it up using a soft brush attachment. This method can be particularly effective for removing pet odors.

Consulting with a Professional Cleaner

If the odor persists or if you’re dealing with strong and stubborn smells, it may be best to consult with a professional cleaner. They have specialized tools and techniques to deep-clean the leather, removing any embedded odors and leaving your furniture fresh and odor-free.

Special Considerations

Not all leather is the same, and different types of leather require different care approaches. Here are some special considerations for specific types of leather commonly used in furniture:

Aniline and Nubuck Leather

Aniline and nubuck leathers are delicate and require special care. These leathers are more prone to staining and fading, so it’s crucial to handle them with care. Avoid using water-based cleaners on these types of leather, as they can cause uneven discoloration. Instead, opt for specialized cleaners and conditioners designed specifically for aniline or nubuck leather. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to ensure the best results.

Suede Leather

Suede leather has a unique texture and requires gentle care to maintain its appearance. To clean suede, use a suede brush or a soft cloth to gently remove loose dirt or dust. For more stubborn stains, use a suede eraser or a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water. However, it’s crucial to test any cleaning method in an inconspicuous area first, as suede leather is particularly sensitive to moisture.

Bonded and Faux Leather

Bonded and faux leathers have a different composition compared to genuine leather, so they require their own set of care instructions. Generally, these types of leathers can be cleaned with mild soap and water or with a specialized leather cleaner. Make sure to check the manufacturer’s guidelines for specific care instructions and avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaning tools.


Caring for leather furniture doesn’t have to be a challenge. By implementing regular maintenance, promptly addressing stains, conditioning the leather, and taking protective measures, you can keep your furniture in excellent condition for many years to come. Remember, consistency is key when it comes to leather care, so make sure to establish a routine that works for you. With knowledge and proper care, your leather furniture will continue to provide comfort, style, and durability in your home.