Leather Home Furnishings – How to Clean and Care for Them

Everyone loves leather home furnishings and accessories–they can add elegance, style and drama to your home decor. Nothing says masculine, classic and American, like excellent quality leather goods. However, leather furnishings and accessories can be an expensive investment. Learning how to properly clean and care for these items is critical to their longevity and beauty. But, if given proper cleaning and care, leather furnishings can bring unsurpassed beauty and elegance into our homes and offer a lifetime of service.

There are four basic rules for caring of fine leather

  1. Do not expose leather goods to liquids or high humidity, as this may cause the leather to discolor and/or the dye to run.
  2. Never clean with sandpaper.
  3. Never expose leather to excessive direct sunlight, as this may cause discoloration or fading.
  4. Clean and protect your leather every six months. If your leather receives heavy usage, you should clean it every three months. Basic cleaning items are saddle soap or a good water-based leather cleaner which will remove minor dirt and stains, as well as to help the ‘bed’ of the leather retain its natural oils and finish.

leather home furnishings - leather chairMost all leather home furnishings, with the exception of suede, can be cleaned using mild water-based leather cleaners. Always pre-test in an inconspicuous area for colorfastness using a soft, clean, lint-free cloth. If the leather passes the colorfastness test, apply your leather cleaner to a sponge, squeezing to produce foam. Apply the foam to the soiled area using a gentle circular motion. Never Rub.

Palliser Hammond reclining chair

Apply the foam in light coats, wait a few minutes, and then blot with a soft, clean, lint-free cloth. Re-apply is the area is heavily soiled. Leather can be extremely dry and this may cause the leather cleaner to dissipate quickly. If this happens, add one-part distilled water to three-parts leather cleaner. This will dampen the area enough to release the soil from the area you’re cleaning. Allow the leather to dry naturally. After drying, apply a leather conditioner to restore moisture to dry leather and to provide protection from future soiling.

How To Clean Your Leather Home Furnishings

To clean home furnishings or accessories made of suede leather, use a suede ‘cleaning cloth’. (This is a specialty cleaning cloth that has a tacky feel to it and is available from most fine leather cleaning suppliers). The suede cleaning cloth will raise the nap and scrape off the soil from the nap.

After cleaning, apply a light coat of an aerosol suede protector over the entire piece. This will form a barrier to improve stain resistance and make it easier to clean in the future. After the spray has dried, rub the surface with a dry sponge to return the suede texture.

As reported in the New York Times,

“Leather is the best thing for furniture. Everyone should have a complete line of leather products. You can’t go wrong with leather.”

With regular care and maintenance, your leather home furnishings and accessories will provide you with a lifetime of service.

To view more leather home furnishings, check out our Leather page.

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