How to Clean Leather Furniture and Accessories With Ease

Leather is a classic material used to decorate our homes and ourselves in style. Whether it’s a cozy couch in your den or a pair of pumps in your closet, chances are you own some.. It’s durable and gets better with age, but it often comes with a hefty price tag. So how do you protect your investment and keep it looking its best? We’ve got you covered with our complete guide to cleaning leather furniture.

(The DIY Playbook)

See post: The DIY Playbook|How to Care for Leather Furniture


How to Clean a Leather Couch or Chair

While cleaning a leather couch or chair may seem like an intimidating project, keeping your furniture looking fresh is actually much easier than you may think.

Read the Tag

Before you get started, it’s alway wise to consult any tags that might be attached to your furniture or the manufacturer's manual that came with your couch or chair. They often contain a code for cleaning, detailed instructions, and tips to keep your particular type of leather looking its best.

It’s especially important to check if your leather is protected or unprotected, as cleaning methods differ for each. For example, some unprotected leather furniture makers only recommend a light dusting, and suede leathers may be stained by water. Always spot test your cleaning method in an inconspicuous area first, to be sure they won’t cause a stain. 

(Chas' Crazy Creations)

See post: Chas' Crazy Creations|Cleaning Your Leather Couch

Remove Dust or Debris

Start by removing the cushions, if possible, and vacuum the base of the piece to remove any dust or debris. Use a crevice tool to get into small spaces or reach in between the cushions if they are secured to frame. Next, use the soft brush vacuum attachment on the cushions themselves.

Finish this step by using a dry microfiber cloth to wipe away any fine dust that may remain. 

(The DIY Playbook)

See post: The DIY Playbook|How to Care for Leather Furniture

Cleanse the Surface

To remove any dirt or spots on your couch or chair, you can use a soft, damp, microfiber cloth and go over the entire surface of the the piece, including the cushions, frame, back and arms in small sections. It’s important to make sure that your rag is just damp, not soaking or dripping wet, since too much water will damage the leather.

Keep in mind that certain leathers require the use of distilled water instead of tap and harsh detergents or ammonia based cleaners should never be used on any leather products. These chemicals will dry out and possibly stain the leather, and while you may be tempted to break out the bleach to clean your white leather furniture, it will damage the material.

There are professional cleaning products that you can use if you feel the need for more than plain water, however, when it comes to soap and leather, less is usually more.

To dry your piece, use a separate chamois or soft microfiber cloth. Once all evidence of dampness is completely gone, you’re done!

(Chas' Crazy Creations)

See post: Chas' Crazy Creations|Cleaning Your Leather Couch

Condition It

When your leather furniture is clean, you may want to condition it to add some shine or luster. Leather furniture should be conditioned several times a year to keep the surface supple and prevent it from cracking. Conditioned leather is also more resistant to stains, since it acts as a barrier. You can either purchase a commercial leather conditioner or make your own with ingredients appropriate for your specific leather type. Some recipes include a mixture of vinegar and lemon, coconut or olive oil.

Rub the conditioner onto the leather with a soft cloth and let it sit and soak into the furniture for a day before buffing it off.  

(The DIY Playbook)

See post: The DIY Playbook|How to Care for Leather Furniture

Addressing Scratches and Stains

No matter how careful you are, you might end up with a scratch or a stain on your leather sofa. Don’t panic, there are ways to remove them both. Again, always check your tag for instructions, but in general, here are some steps that may help.

Unprotected leather will stain more easily than protected ones and applying a conditioner regularly will help to keep stains at bay.

If you a have a grease or oil stain on your sofa, blot it with a microfiber cloth and then apply a little cornstarch or baking soda to the area and let it sit for a few hours. The powder will slowly absorb the stain and it should fade away. Remove the powder and wipe down the couch.

Other stubborn stains can be treated with a little dab of rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball and a gentle pat to the area.

To remove scratches, dab the area with distilled water on a rag and let the spot dry. 

(Kimberly Smith)

See post: Kimberly Smith|How to Remove Scratches from Leather

How to Clean Leather Shoes and Handbags

Leather accessories, like shoes, boots, handbags, and belts are often subjected to intense, daily wear and tear, but if properly cared for, they can last for many, many years. Just like you’d do when cleaning your sofa, check for any specific instructions or recommendations on a tag before you get started. 

However, in general, wipe the item down with a soft rag, or vacuum away any particles and dust. Then dampen a clean, soft rag and wipe away the dirt. Using a third rag, dry the item completely and condition it if desired.

To remove stains, you can use a small amount of rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball or swab and carefully pat the area. Again, baking soda or cornstarch can be used to treat greasy or oily spots. 


See post: Carole|Cleaning Mould Off of Leather Goods Such as Bags and Shoes

How to Clean Faux Leather               

Faux leather is a popular and less expensive alternative to real leather. It’s usually constructed from plastic or vinyl and it’s used to make a wide variety of products from furniture, handbags, and shoes, to fashion and home decor accessories. Of course, real or faux, everything looks better when it’s clean. So how do you clean faux leather?

The steps are basically the same as the ones used to keep real leather items fresh, including checking for any specific instructions provided by the manufacturer. Keep in mind that some steps will need to be modified based on the item you’re cleaning, but basically you will start by removing any dust, dirt or debris from the surface.

Dip a soft rag in warm, soapy water, ring it out well, so that it’s more damp than wet and go over your item in small sections. Next, use a clean damp rag to wipe away any soap debris and finally a third soft rag to dry.

If your material is stained, use a small amount of rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab or cotton ball, rinse with water and allow it to dry.

(Tara Marie)

See post: Tara Marie|DIY Faux Leather Pillow

There you have it, all you ever wanted to know about caring for and cleaning your precious leather pieces in one place. From couches to clutches, real or faux, it’s not difficult. By following a few simple steps your leather can last for years and spills, scratches and stains don’t have to be a troublesome worry. Just keep our guide handy and you’ll be prepared for whatever come your way.


Do you have a comment or question about this article? Would you like more information about cleaning leather? Perhaps you have your own DIY leather cleaner or conditioner recipe you’d like to share. Well, then, head on over to Hometalk and join our community of DIYers!    

Written for the Hometalk community by:  Kim | Exquisitely Unremarkable

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