Leather Furniture Care

If you don’t already own quality leather furniture you may not appreciate how easy it is to care for and clean. Taking proper maintenance and care steps and following a few tips will maximize your enjoyment of the leather furniture in your home for many years to come.

The leather used in your leather furniture needs very little care with normal usage. That’s because leather is a natural product that has already been permanently preserved during the tanning process. Still, there are a few steps you can take to avoid permanent damage to your leather furniture and to keep it looking its best.

Preventing Leather Furniture Damage

Like other upholstery fabrics, leather is susceptible to damage from excessive exposure to sunlight, heat and high or low humidity levels. While you should always follow your leather furniture manufacturer’s specific care instructions, here are a few tips to help protect leather furniture from damage:

  1. Prevent color fading caused by the sun’s UV rays. Like other upholstered and wood furniture, try to place your leather furniture in locations where it will not be exposed to excessive sunlight levels. Use shades, blinds or draperies to help block UV rays. Consider using window tinting or film to block UV rays that might otherwise harm your leather furniture.
  2. Maintain a safe distance between your leather furniture and heat sources in your home. Prolonged exposure to heat can damage both your leather furniture’s upholstery and the framing used in the furniture.
  3. Prevent cracking and mold formation by maintaining proper climate levels in your home. Excessively low relative humidity levels and high heat can lead to cracking in leather upholstery; excessively high humidity levels can promote mold growth. All of these conditions are also harmful for the wood frame of your furniture.
  4. Keep sharp objects away from your leather furniture. Sharp objects, including pets with sharp claws, can create tears and scratches in the leather upholstery. While small tears and scratches are not usually difficult to repair, it’s best to avoid them in the first place.
  5. Avoid resting newspapers and magazines on the surface of your leather furniture. Printers’ inks can leach into the leather under prolonged contact with newsprint or glossy magazine covers.
  6. Avoid using harmful household products near your leather furniture. Avoid spills and damage that may occur from ink pens, nail polish, nail polish remover and other caustic substances.

Tips for Cleaning and Maintaining Leather Furniture

One advantage of leather furniture is that under most conditions, regular dry-cloth or dusting with a lightly dampened cloth and vacuum cleaning in crevices are all that’s necessary to keep it clean. Here are a few tips for cleaning and maintaining the beauty of your leather furniture.

  1. Dust leather furniture weekly. Use a soft, white cloth to dust and clean your leather furniture. You can also use the soft brush attachment on your vacuum and you may want to use the crack and crevice attachment for hard-to-reach areas. A slightly damp cloth may also be used, especially for high usage and skin contact areas, including arms, seats and back cushions.
  2. Fluff and turn detached cushions regularly for even wear and for helping to minimize any “comfort wrinkles” that may develop in the leather
  3. Blot spills immediately with a soft clean cloth. If necessary, dry with a clean, soft towel. Allow to air dry. If water is used, use a small amount of clear, lukewarm water and clean the entire area where the spill occurred.
  4. Do not apply water to oil or grease spots. Clean up excess oil, butter or grease with a clean, dry cloth. Given time, oils and grease often dissipate into leather on their own.
  5. If you must use a cleaner on a stubborn spot, use one that’s chemical free. First check your manufacturer’s care instructions for suggestions. Cleaning products specifically made for leather furniture are available commercially, although not all of them work. Ivory soap often works well. Do NOT use furniture polish, any ammonia-based cleaning products or any abrasives on leather. Always pretest on an inconspicuous area first.
  6. If spots or stains persist, consult a professional leather cleaning service. Better safe than sorry, since additional attempts may cause permanent damage or discoloration.
  7. Don't worry about small scratches and scuffs. Small scratches in leather furniture often heal over time and become less noticeable. You can use a chamois or clean fingers to gently buff scratches and scuffs. Scuffs can also often be buffed out with leather cleaner/conditioner. Any noticeable deep scratches in leather upholstery can be touched up with a commercial leather dye touch up kit.
  8. Apply a good leather conditioner every 6-12 months. Leather conditioners help keep leather furniture supple while also helping to seal the leather for protection against spills and stains.

More Topics on Furniture Care

Furniture from Home features a wide selection of fine leather furniture that you’re sure to enjoy for many years. Our Furniture Care section includes these additional topics on caring for your furniture.

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