How To Clean Leather Furniture

When you purchase a leather sofa you are buying an heirloom that will last for generations and with a little effort the sofa will not only last for many, many years but it will look better as it ages and gains the warm patina that fine leather is known for. It will take a few minutes a week but what a small price to pay for your long term investment. With a little effort and a few simple tips your leather sofa will last for generations.

Simple Maintenance For Your Elegant Leather Sofa

Leather begins as an animal skin so if you clean and condition it as delicately as you would your own skin, your sofa will maintain its luster and suppleness. First thing to remember is that Leather does not like dust so you want to keep it dust free. Depending on your environment, you should wipe the dust off every day or every few days. Using a white cotton cloth will make sure no dyes from a colored cloth would be left behind and stain your fine piece of furniture. This cloth can be damp but never dripping wet as you don’t want water to soak into the finish.

Occasional Cleansing Is Recommended

Leather has pores that can collect dirt so just like your skin, you want to cleanse on a regular basis. Depending on usage this could be weekly, monthly or quarterly. Using your white soft lint free cotton cloth (some people use an old cloth diaper) you want to clean with a gentle cleanser. You want it unscented and free of harsh chemicals. Ivory soap or Ivory flakes work well. Never use any strong detergents or abrasive cleansers so you don’t harm the leather. Don’t use oils that might stain the leather. Make sure you test a small hidden spot first to make sure that your leather sofa takes well to the cleaning agent as every piece of leather is unique and can have different results with different finishes. Use a gentle circular motion and don’t scrub hard to prevent any damage to the surface of the leather sofa. You can use a soft brush that will gently cleanse the dirt and oils out of the pores but will not cause harm to the leather fibers themselves.

If dust and dirt are accumulating in the cracks and the welting a gentle vacuuming may be helpful in their removal.

Conditioning Retains Suppleness and Prevents Drying and Cracking

After you cleanse your leather sofa you will want to condition it with a conditioner that is recommended for your type of aniline leather as there are some conditioners that are appropriate for other types of leathers but not for fine aniline or semi-aniline leather. The proper conditioner will moisturize as well as nourish the leather skin and penetrate deep into the many layers of the leather. This will prevent early cracking and aging and help the leather maintain its suppleness and luster. Warmer climates can cause premature aging as well and may need more frequent conditioning. For the best conditioner, choose one that is water based and not one that contains petroleum or silicone which will leave an oily finish.

Prevention Is The Best Remedy

Other than the wrong cleanser or conditioner there are other measures you can take to prevent problems with your beautiful leather sofa.

  • Keep your leather sofa several feet away from a heat vent, radiator, fireplace or blowing air conditioning vent. The heat or cooling too near to the leather can result in premature drying out and cracking of the surface.
  • The leather sofa should also not be placed in direct sunlight. Not only can it get too much heat and age prematurely but also the sun’s UV rays can cause fading of the leather or uneven aging of the leather color.
  • Leather can be scratched so be aware of the potential damage from pets toe nails or snaps on blue jeans or other sharp items that are placed on your leather sofa. You can usually use a chamois to buff out small scratches.
  • Occasionally strong dyes can potentially leave behind staining, especially those from blue jeans or other dark colors like newsprint – avoidance is the best cure.

Accidents Can Happen

With even the best intentions and care of your leather sofa, accidents can happen. Then what do you do? Luckily there is a remedy for almost every problem.

  • Colorless liquids like water will at some time spill on your leather sofa. The best way to get the liquid up is to gently press on the liquid with a dry cloth to absorb as much as possible – don’t rub it hard or the leather will absorb even more. Then you gently wipe up the stain from the edges and push outward to reduce any potential staining. As you wipe outwards, the least amount of liquid will be on the edges and will minimize the appearance should there be a stain.
  • Darker liquids can be more challenging. Something like red wine or ink need to be gently blotted to absorb as much of the liquid as possible. Then you can use a gentle soap – do not use any harsh cleaners.
  • Grease stains may also need special treatment. Again, you want to blot the stain to get as much of the grease out as you can. As water will not get grease out, you will want to use something dry and absorbent like cornstarch or talcum powder. Place some over the stain and leave it there until the grease is absorbed. Then use a soft brush or vacuum up the dry material. If all is not absorbed the first time, you may need to do it another time or two to get the grease out.

With just a little bit of effort and care and attention to your fine leather sofa, your leather sofa will always maintain its luster, suppleness and gracefully age for you and your heirs to enjoy for decades, perhaps centuries.

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