How to Properly Clean Leather
Leather furniture is a beautiful, durable and timeless material. The natural patina that develops over time makes each piece unique.
It’s a popular material for furniture, clothing, and upholstery, but it’s also pleasing to look at! However, like any other fabric or material, it needs to be cleaned regularly to maintain its original appearance.
Some of the most common requests we receive are based on tips for cleaning leather, especially after the winter season. However, it’s important to note that some leather types are more sensitive than others, so it is always best to consult with a professional before using cleaning products on your furniture or clothing.
With that being said, there are many ways you can keep your leather looking great with this handy guide.
Let’s dive in!
Tips for Cleaning Leather: How Surfaces Absorb Liquids
Before you can clean your leather, it is crucial to understand how the surface absorbs liquids. There are three ways that water and other substances interact with leather:
- Transference (Also known as dye transfer)
When water penetrates into the fibers, it can affect the surface of your leather. If water is not absorbed, but rather remains as beads on top of your leather, you need to be very careful when cleaning with a wet cloth or sponge. This can cause transference and dye transfer onto other pieces in the room.
When trying to clean stains off of leather, it’s best to use a dry cloth and blot the area in question. Once you’ve cleaned the surface of your leather with a soft cloth (or towel), we recommend applying an all-natural cream or oil that will condition and protect your piece from further damage.
How to Properly Clean Leather
Step 1 – Gather Your Materials
When cleaning leather, you’ll need the following materials:
- Warm water
- Mild soap, or cream cleaner (all of which are available at your local hardware store)
- Soft cloth or towel that is lint-free and for applying oil conditioner or cream to the surface of your furniture.
- Leather Conditioner
All-natural cleaning products are recommended.
Step 2 – Dive In With Soap and Water
Take a damp cloth, dip it in soapy water, then blot the surface. Repeat this process until you’ve removed all of the dirt or stains from your piece. Be careful not to rub too hard as that can cause damage!
Step 3 – Ensure You Dry the Leather
After cleaning your leather, make sure you’ve dried it thoroughly before using any products on the surface. This ensures that water won’t penetrate and cause further damage to the fibers of your piece!
Step 4 – Condition Your Leather
After cleaning your leather, apply a conditioner to keep it protected and soft! Apply a small amount of cream or oil to the surface and work it in with your fingers. Let this dry for 15-20 minutes, then wipe away any excess product from your piece!
The Best Tips for Cleaning Leather
Tip for Cleaning Leather #1: Use Soft Cloths
Using lint-free cloths to clean your leather is key. This will ensure that the soft, plush material doesn’t pick up any particles that could cause damage or staining! These can be found at most hardware stores under cleaning supplies.
Tip for Cleaning Leather #2 – Test First
It’s always important that you test any cleaning products on an inconspicuous area of the surface before using them. This is especially true if you’re using a cloth that has been used to clean another surface. If you’ve had any issues with stains or damage from cleaning products, be sure to blot the area instead of rubbing too hard!
Tip for Cleaning Leather #3 – Use Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol is excellent for removing tough spots or stains. Just be sure not to use too much – a little goes a long way! If you’re cleaning a larger piece of furniture, be sure to wipe the alcohol over your entire surface. That way, you will be able to remove any excess residue.
Tip for Cleaning Leather #4 – Leather Conditioner
To avoid staining and greasing up your piece, we recommend using a cream or oil-based conditioner that is specifically made for the type of leather you’re working with. You can find these at most hardware stores in the section dedicated to cleaning supplies.
Tip for Cleaning Leather #5 – The Hook and Loop Cloth
The hook side is for removing stubborn stains, while the loop side acts as a lint-free cloth that won’t damage the surface of your leather. You can purchase this from a leather cleaning specialist, or at your local hardware store if you’re in a pinch!
Tip for Cleaning Leather #6 – Let it Dry!
When cleaning leather, remember to make sure you’ve dried the surface before applying any products or oils. This ensures that water won’t penetrate and cause further damage to your piece’s fibers. Remain patient with this process as it can take up to 20 minutes for the cream/oil to soak into the surface.
Tip for Cleaning Leather #7 – No Pets On the Furniture
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but we wanted to include it anyway! This tip applies more to cats than dogs. These furry friends love black leather couches and can really do a number on your furniture over time. If you have pets that like lounging on the sofa or chair, be sure to use slipcovers or protectors to keep the surface in good condition.
Tip for Cleaning Leather #8 – Maintain Overtime
In order to make sure your leather surface stays in top condition, you need to be proactive with cleaning! If you notice any stains or damage from animals/drink spills, clean it immediately using the methods we’ve included above. This will help prevent further staining and ensure that your piece of furniture looks great for many years to come!
Leather is a material that requires proper care to maintain its luxurious look and feel. With these tips, you can clean leather without ruining the original quality of your prized possessions.
This concludes our blog post on how to clean leather properly! We hope you’ve found this article helpful in maintaining your favorite pieces of furniture or clothing made from this durable material.