How to Clean Leather Furniture Properly

clean leather furniture

Proper cleaning of leather is not difficult, but does require the use of the correct materials & methods.

One question that we are constantly presented with is: How to clean leather furniture properly?  A simple enough question, but before we get into the answer, let's define the term "properly" and what that really means.

The main purpose of "cleaning leather" is obvious; remove all dirt and soiling from it. However, to be honest, there is a lot more to leather cleaning than just removing soils. The process is meant to not only clean, but also to preserve the leather so that it lasts for a much longer period of time. After all, you've invested quite a lot of money and certainly do not wish to re-invest anytime soon. Keeping the leather well maintained will not only keep it looking good, but will also greatly increase the longevity and functionality of the piece, thus protecting your investment.

"Properly", means using the correct products & methods

When you search the internet for advice on the subject, you find a myriad of information from so-called "expert" web sites. Many of these sites provide good, reasonable information. But, many provide information that can be very damaging or even destructive to your leather furniture. Leather contains oils that are required in order for the leather to remain soft & flexible. These oils also protect the finish from cracking a prematurely wearing. If these oils are removed, the obvious results will be disastrous. So, what should be used?

Leather has a balanced  Ph7 level

Here are the facts:

Cleaning dirt & soiling from leather surfaces is easy. Even plain water will remove a lot of this, provided the leather has been conditioned properly. But there is a lot more to the process than just removing dirt. Here are some things that you should not do:

  • Never use regular household cleaners. All household cleaners are designed for more generic uses on materials which are not necessarily Ph sensitive. Some household cleaners are very acidic with very low Ph levels. Other are very alkaline with very high Ph levels. Neither of these are compatible with leather and will breakdown or even destroy the valuable oils contained in the leather, causing premature breakdown of the fibers and finish.  You will not see these effects immediately, however, the long term affects will remove years of service from the item, leading to re-investing in new furniture much sooner than expected.
  • Never use vinegar. Vinegar is very acidic with a Ph level of 2 - 3. Even when diluted with water the Ph levels are still extremely low. This extremely high acid content will not only break down the oils, but it will undoubtedly destroy the finish causing light surface cracking. wear spots and even flaking of the finish. Again, you will not see the damage immediately, but be assured you will see the results much sooner than expected.
  • Home made leather cleaner. These can be made at home, but trust me when I tell you, it is not that easy. You will find home made recipes on line. But when you check the ingredients, they are either very acidic or very alkaline, both of which are detrimental to your leather. Unless you have some familiarity of chemistry, finding the proper ingredients can be challenging.
  • Never use cleaner/conditioner products. You will find products touting themselves as leather cleaner/conditioner in one. In other words, cleans and conditions at the same time. All of us want to get projects done as quickly and easily as possible and if we can find a way to eliminate additional steps in a task we are happy to give it a try. But keep this in mind: The detergents contained in cleaning products are designed to break down and destroy oils. Conditioners are designed to replenish or replace lost oils. Therefore, you have a product that is fighting against itself. The detergents are breaking down the oils that need to be replaced, while the oils dilute the detergents so that they can no longer clean well. In reality, this seems like a total waste of money & time. But, I guess a little is better than nothing.

So, The very best thing that you can do to clean your leather furniture is to shop for a high quality leather cleaner that is formulated specifically for your type of leather. There are  a number of good ones on the market. We feel that our Leather Magic Leather Cleaners are at the top of this list. The following list will provide you with information on how to clean leather and focused on the specific leather type you may have.