How to Clean Leather Furniture and Decor, According to the Pros

Leather has a classic aesthetic that works with nearly any interior design style. Despite its widespread appeal, some homeowners are hesitant to invest in a plush leather sofa or a pair of sleek caramel barstools.

“I’ve had a lot of clients who are concerned about leather in some way,” says Master Cleaners a seasoned interior designer. “‘What if it becomes stained?’ or ‘How do we maintain it clean?’ say some. My response is the same every time. Leather is a completely natural material. It will leave a stain. However, if you can handle it, it will only become better with time.”

A minor cleaning every now and again, according to Jack Prause, president of famous leather maker Cortina Leathers, will keep your leather furniture and décor looking fresh and new. “A simple dusting with a clean, dry cloth once in a while should suffice for cleaning and maintenance.” And if your leather is stained due to an unlucky mishap, there are a number of tried-and-true ways for removing the stain.

To keep your leather looking clean and beautiful, follow the tips below. Your leather items will stay in style as the years pass and fads come and go, only getting better with age.

Is It Necessary to Clean Leather on a Regular Basis?

Leather, believe it or not, is a long-lasting material that can withstand years of use. Consistent cleaning and care is the trick to extending its lifespan. “I tell my clients to wipe away any excess dirt on a regular basis to maintain their leather clean,” adds.

Wipe away dust and dirt with a dry cloth at least once a month to let your leather age gracefully, then apply a leather conditioner to moisturize and protect the material. If you have stains, use a moist cloth with tepid water and a little soap to remove them. However, if you have a difficult stain from grease or ink, wipe the affected area as soon as possible using the tips below.

You’ll require the following items:

  • Vacuum
  • A few dry, clean microfiber cloths
  • Conditioner for leather
  • Soap that is gentle (for minor stains)
  • Vinegar is a type of vinegar that is used to (for minor stains)
  • Soda (baking) (for grease stains)
  • Alcohol rubbing (for ink stains)
  • Swabs of cotton (for ink stains)
  • Lemon juice and tartar sauce (for dark spots on light leather)

Step 1: Vacuuming and Dusting

Remove any dust, grime, or crumbs from your leather furniture and décor before addressing any stains or scratches.

Begin by lightly cleaning the surface with a vacuum and a brush attachment. Remember to clean between the couch cushions and along any seams where dust can accumulate. After you’ve finished, wipe off the furniture, pillow, or decorative piece once more with a dry microfiber cloth.

Step 2: Remove any blemishes or stains

It’s time to focus on any lingering spots and stains after you’ve dealt with the layer of dust and chip crumbs.

The best technique to remove difficult stains from leather is to clean the area before it dries. “In the event of spills or soiling, we recommend prompt action,” adds Prause. Stop what you’re doing and attend to the stain if your son wiped his fingers on your leather pillow after devouring a piece of bacon or if your dog rushed onto the sofa with mud-caked paws.

Here are a few typical stains that can be removed using basic home items:

  • Minor stains: Prause recommends addressing minor stains with water before using heavy-duty cleaners. “If there is a spill, blot it immediately with a clean, dry, absorbent cloth,” he suggests. “If soiling persists, dampen a clean white towel with lukewarm water and gently blot the afflicted area.” If necessary, a mild soap with water or a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar can also be used, but use these liquids sparingly and always dab rather than rub.
  • Grease stains: Grease stains on leather can be difficult to remove, but it’s not impossible. It’s better to deal with spilt grease as soon as possible, wiping it away with a clean, dry towel. If the grease has already penetrated the leather, apply baking soda to the affected area, let it sit for a few hours, and then wipe it away with a dry rag.
  • Ink stains: When dealing with an ink stain, homeowners have had some success using rubbing alcohol to remove the stain. Gently wipe away the discoloration using a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol (your swab should be moist but not dripping).
  • Dark stains on white or beige leather: Make a paste with equal parts lemon juice and cream of tartar to remove darker stains from light-colored leather. Allow 10 minutes for the mixture to rest on the stain before washing it away with a moist cloth.

Remember not to “over-wet” your leather with any of the methods suggested, as too much saturation can damage and even discolor the material. “Never use soap or spray straight on leather,” Barrett advises.

Step 3: Pat hair dry before applying conditioner

Once you’ve completed addressing spots and stains, wipe the area with a dry, clean cloth and let it lay overnight (or longer, if required) before proceeding to the last step.

To finish the cleaning process, add your leather conditioner. Follow the directions on the conditioner bottle, and double-check that the conditioner is suitable for the sort of leather you have. A decent leather conditioner will not only give your leather a protective covering to avoid stains and even splits, but it will also give it a subtle shine.

Your leather products will appear as beautiful as the day you brought them home after this final step.

Tips for Keeping Leather Clean for a Longer Time

Leather may necessitate some routine maintenance, but with careful care, your leather goods will remain supple and exquisite. Follow these simple procedures to keep your leather looking clean and fresh for years to come.

  • Make cleaning and care a monthly ritual: Once a month, dust your leather furniture and décor with a clean, dry cloth. Apply a little layer of leather conditioner after you’ve dusted.
  • Avoid areas with extreme temperature swings: Leather is heat-sensitive, so keep your leather goods away from a fireplace or large windows with direct sunshine.
  • Keep pets off: It’s hard to resist cuddling on the couch with your furry companion, but if you want to avoid major wear and tear, don’t let your pets up on your wonderful leather furniture.
  • Remove stains as soon as possible: The longer you let stains linger, the more difficult they will be to remove. Put the mug down and get a cloth immediately away if you detect a minor stain from your morning cup of coffee.