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Cleaning Your Leather Furniture Is The Key To Keeping It Fresh And Beautiful

By Buck Lawrimore

Buying leather furniture for your home is a wise investment: it’s beautiful, durable and smells wonderful! Cleaning your fine leather furniture is the key to keeping it looking showroom perfect, and it isn’t as challenging as you may think.

The first step to cleaning leather or any other furniture upholstery is to read the manufacturer’s owner’s manual and/or website for proper care instructions. Reading the care instructions first will inform you of the type of leather used for your leather furniture and the manufacturer’s preferred method of keeping it clean and beautiful. For instance smooth, finished leather and unfinished leather, such as suede, require entirely different methods of cleaning. Using the wrong cleaning products for the type of leather furniture you have can permanently damage it.

Dust smooth leather furniture every time you vacuum the carpet. Leather is porous, and needs to be able to breathe, so use the vacuum cleaner brush attachment to remove accumulated dust, and the crevice tool to clear debris from hard to reach areas. Skin oils, sweat and nicotine also cling to leather furniture surfaces and cause dust to stick to the leather if it’s not removed on a regular basis. Dusting leather furniture helps avoid sticky buildup and discoloration.

Many smooth leathers can be spot cleaned with a mild moisturizing facial soap. The manufacturer’s care instructions will tell you if you shouldn’t use soap on leather furniture. Use a soft, lightly dampened cotton cloth and a small amount of mild soap worked into a lather on an inconspicuous area, blot with another damp cloth and let dry at least four hours to see if it fades or spots the leather. If not, you can safely use soap and water to spot clean the leather. Never use furniture polish, window cleaner, rough cloth, paper towels or any other material that may scratch the surface of the leather or clog the pores with lint. A monthly cleaning will help keep leather furniture looking new. Always allow the leather to naturally air dry completely.

Leather contains natural oils that may leach out from washing, making it dry, brittle and prone to cracking. Using a leather conditioner specifically for smooth leather, according to the manufacturer’s recommendation, prevents this. Never use mink oil or polishes, saddle soap, oils or soaps made for wood furniture to condition smooth leather furniture. They may contain chemicals or excess water that will spot or otherwise damage the leather.

Immediately blot liquid spills with a dry cloth then wipe the leather furniture with a lightly dampened cloth to remove any residue of the spill. Blot away the excess water with a dry cloth and allow the leather to finish drying naturally. The exception to this method is, of course, a water spill. In this case, simply blot away the water with a soft, dry cloth and allow to air dry as you normally would. For food spills, especially oily foods, be sure to remove all food debris then wash the leather furniture with a dampened cotton cloth and a small amount of mild facial or dish soap. Wipe away excess soap with a dampened cloth and allow to air dry.

Correctly cleaning and conditioning leather furniture is essential to maintaining its beauty and durability. With proper care you really can easily keep your fine leather furniture looking and feeling showroom perfect!

About the Author: Buck Lawrimore is marketing/PR coordinator for, a leading online discount home furniture store selling custom-made American furniture, at


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