How to clean a leather sofa: taking care of leather furniture

Keep your sofas and chairs clean with our tips for taking care of leather furniture – and, if worst comes to worst, how to remove stains from leather

How to clean leather furniture
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Published: September 26th, 2022 at 9:23 am
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When well looked after, a leather surface will become richer in hue and texture with each passing year. Gentleness is the overriding rule of thumb. Dust once a week or fortnight to keep old leather in tip-top condition. Use a vacuum with a soft brush attachment to get into the nooks and crannies, then rub a slightly damp cloth over the surface in a gentle circular motion. When you have wiped the surface, dry with a soft cloth – keep your chair away from direct sunlight and don’t be tempted to use a hairdryer.

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Once a month, apply a sparing amount of specialist leather cream and then buff with a clean, soft cloth. Don’t use furniture polish, anything containing silicone or wet wipes. Spillages should be dabbed dry using a clean absorbent cloth. More serious stain removal can be tricky to deal with and, if you have any doubts, it’s best to seek expert advice, especially if the stain is an old one or caused by oil or grease.

How to clean leather furniture
Getty Images/iStockphoto

If you're interested in furniture, check out our round-up of the best furniture upcycling and restoration courses available online and in person.

How to remove stains from leather furniture:

What you need:

  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Saddle soap
  • Microfibre cloths
  • Lemons
  • Cream of tartar
  • Methylated spirit
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How to clean leather furniture

  1. Dampen a cloth with a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water and gently rub the stain. Alternatively, use saddle soap and water.
  2. Don’t rinse afterwards – simply dab gently to blot away the moisture and leave to dry naturally.
  3. For more stubborn stains, make a paste from 50/50 lemon juice and cream of tartar and rub into the stained area. It is sensible to do a patch test first on an inconspicuous area. If the stain is recent, it should disappear immediately. More resistant stains may be left in contact with the paste for an hour or two.
  4. Remove the paste by wiping with a damp cloth, then buff the surface dry.
  5. Ink spots can sometimes be removed with methylated spirit.
  6. A solution of methylated spirit or vinegar and water can also help to remove mildew.
How to clean leather furniture
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