How to Clean Leather Furniture

So, you have invested in some nice leather furniture in your home. You purchased it for your family to use daily and they surely do. Even the pets love it! Your immediate concern now is: How do I take care of it? What do I need to do to keep it clean?  and most important, how to clean leather furniture. When you purchased it, the sales person most likely told you that all you needed to do was to wipe it down occasionally with a damp cloth. Sounds simple enough. I can do that. But then you start thinking; "that just doesn't sound reasonable for the long term" and you would be definitely correct.  After all, everything requires a certain amount of care to retain the look, feel and functionality.  So. Why would leather be any different?

There are many, many sites that claim to provide you with correct information on how to clean leather furniture.  Much of this information is redundant, giving you the exact same information which has been copied from one site to another. Some sites provide you with accurate information and advice, while others, although unintentional, create disastrous problems and situations which may not be repairable.

Example: One of our customers contacted us regarding a stain in their cushion.  His children had scribbled on the cushion with an ink pen.  He searched the internet and found a site that recommended using vegetable oil to remove the ink. He felt the informatio0n was valid and coming from a reputable source, so he tried the suggestion.  Here are the results:

Oil Stained Sofa Cusion
Close Up Oil Stained Sofa Cusion

As you can see, the damage is severe, so much so, that it cannot be restored in such a way so as to retain even the slightest resemblance of the original. Moral of the story: Don't believe everything you read.  Obvious statement, but, just because a site is put up by well know or recognized names, doesn't mean the informatio0n is always accurate.

The True Facts on How to Clean Leather Furniture

The following is true, accurate and well proven information on how to clean leather furniture the correct way using the proper products. Leather Magic!™ products are used in this demonstration, but the same procedures apply to any other high quality products you may have.

How to Clean Leather Furniture

Step #1

It is best to wipe the surface down with a soft cloth slightly dampened with water (remember what the sales person told you?). This process doesn't do a lot for the cleaning process, but it does remove dust and loose particles of material that accumulate on the surface of the leather. These particles can be rather abrasive and slowly deteriorate the surface and finish of the leather causing it to turn dull and dingy quickly. By removing these particles before starting the actual cleaning process, the chances of abrasive damage is greatly minimized.

Allow the surface to dry before continuing..

Wipe With Damp Cloth
Leather Cleaner

Step #2

Use the proper Leather Cleaner. This demonstration is performed on "Top Coated" or "Protected" leather.  Other types of leather will require the use of a different leather cleaning product. A high quality leather cleaner will be formulated for a specific "type" of leather.  Before you begin with any maintenance program, you must identify the "type" of leather you are working with. Many times there is a tag attached to the furniture indicating the leather type. Occasionally this information is unclear or not even mentioned on the tag. In this case, there are tests that can be easily performed to identify your leather type .  Under no circumstance should ordinary household cleaning products be used.  These products are formulated for materials and surfaces that are much harder and more durable than leather finishes. The chemistry of these products are far too harsh for leather and although they will clean the leather quite well, the chemical reaction that occurs will permanently damage the leather and its' finish.  This reaction will most likely not be immediately noticed, but, over time you will begin to notice small cracks develop, stiffening of the leather and ultimately permanent damge which dramatically shortens the lifespan.

Step #2 (cont.)

Spray a wet mist onto the surface of the leather working a controllable sized area at one time (generally a full panel seam-to-seam). Using a soft dry towel, immediately begin lightly scrubbing over the surface. A good leather cleaner will thoroughly dissolve all dirt and foreign matter that exists on the surface.  It will also dissolve oils and other residue that accumulate allowing the cloth to pick it up and remove it. The scrubbing action works soils that may be in the grain of the leather loose also allowing them to be lifted into the cloth. It is not necessary to scrub hard or vigorously. Allow the cleaner to do the work. Normally this procedure is performed in a rather short period of time, generally 15 - 25 minutes for a full sized leather sofa. No rinsing is required. Allow the surface to completely dry before proceeding.

Scrub Leather Cleaner
Leather Conditioner

Step #3

Use the proper Leather Conditioner. This demonstration is performed on "Top Coated" or "Protected" leather.  Other types of leather will require the use of a different leather conditioning product. A high quality leather conditioner will be formulated for a specific "type" of leather.  Before you begin with any maintenance program, you must identify the "type" of leather you are working with. Many times there is a tag attached to the furniture indicating the leather type. Occasionally this information is unclear or not even mentioned on the tag. In this case, there are tests that can be easily performed to identify your leather type .  Under no circumstance should ordinary household products or "home remedies" be used.  These products are extremely risky and can permanently damage leather. People have been known to use a whole lot of different things to condition leather such as baby oil, Vaseline,vegetable oil (as seen above) and a whole slew of weird things. You will find testimonials from people using these items stating that they had "great results" and maybe they did, but, most likely, they just got lucky! Even the old "stand-by's like mink oil, neatsfoot oil, saddle soap and others, are no longer compatible with the modern design and chemistry of present day leather. All of these mentioned have undesirable reactions.  This reaction will most likely not be immediately noticed, but, over time you will begin to notice small cracks develop, stiffening of the leather and ultimately permanent damage which dramatically shortens the lifespan.

Step #3 (cont.)

Pour Leather Conditioner onto a soft dry towel and wipe over the surface of the leather working a controllable sized area at one time (generally a full panel seam-to-seam). Continue application until entire piece of furniture has been treated. A good leather conditioner will be absorbed into the leather allowing the nutrients and oils to reach deep into the fibers to lubricate and retain the soft, supple feel. It will also restore and retain flexibility. The finish is also protected from friction and abrasion damage. The scrubbing action works the lubricating oils deep into the leather sort of like a massage. The fibers are manipulated to flex and move so that the nourishing oils can be absorbed where they are needed the most. It is not necessary to scrub hard or vigorously. Allow the leather conditioner to remain on the surface for 10 - 20 minutes.

Pour Leather Conditioner onto dry cloth
Buff Off Excess Conditioner

Step #4

Once the leather conditioner has sat on the surface for 15 - 30 minutes, use a clean dry cloth to buff the excess conditioner from the leather. This will remove any conditioner that has not been absorbed and polish out the finish to a brand new look and feel. Removing the excess will also prevent the leather from feeling sticky or "slimy". Turn the cloth over repeatedly trying to contact a clean dry area as often as possible. Once satisfied, the unit may be immediately placed back into service, however, for practical reasons, it is best to wait for 30 - 60 minutes before normal use. You will immediately notice a dramatic difference in the look and feel of your leather! Plus, by doing this regularly (once every 3 - 6 months) you will considerably extend the life span of your piece.

How to Clean Leather Furniture - Some additional advice:

The above mentioned procedure and products are the basics in leather care.  If you have special circumstances or just want some extra protection, you may find the following products very helpful:

Leather Protection Cream

Leather Protection Cream

Leather Protection Cream works very similar to Leather conditioner with one major difference: It is formulated to provide the strongest blockage properties of any other similar product. Leather Protection Cream acts as a shield to the leather against water, oils, alcohol or any other type of liquid to prevent absorption and damage. It is especially useful in preventing dark stains from body oils from occurring. Applied in the same manner as leather conditioner it is simple to use and very effective to protect your leather furniture.

UV Guard

UV Protector

We refer to it as "Sun Tan Lotion for your Leather". Keep your leather and fabrics looking new and prevent costly UV damage and fading caused by UVA and UVB sun exposure.  UV protector spray is especially effective for protecting these types of fabrics from fading, bleaching and dry rotting due to direct exposure to sunlight. Use Leather Magic!™ UV Guard to make clothing and upholstery fabrics highly resistant to the harmful Ultra Violet Rays that can cause fading and drying out. Simply spray directly onto the surface of leather and lightly wipe the product with a slightly damp clean cloth. Allow to dry and you now have complete protection.