How To Clean And Maintain Leather Furniture

Leather furniture is attractive because it looks classy, doesn’t stain easily and becomes more distinguished as it gets used more. Leather’s durability, though, can make owners take it for granted and forget to clean and maintain it. offers a mini-owner’s manual for leather furniture, along with these recommendations:

* Vacuum first. Leather can get sticky when damp, so you’l need to remove any dust and loose debris to avoid rubbing it in.

* Wipe it down with cleaning solution. Mix a commercial cleaning product with hot water, then dip your rag and wipe down each surface. Rinse the rag in between surfaces to avoid spreading gunk around.

* Saddle up every few months. Four times a year, give the furniture a deep cleanse with a solution made with saddle soap, which hardware stores carry.

How to Clean a Leather Sofa []


Edit Your Comment

  1. Cat says:

    I have no response.

  2. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    and, from my time working at wilson’s leather, the step everyone forgets until their leather cracks – moisturize. leather is a skin after all and it benefits from a good conditioning treatment every once in a while [especially in the winter or in dry climates]

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDave‚Ñ¢ says:

      So if I sit on it naked, will the moisture/oils from my skin help moisturize it?

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        disturbingly yes. that’s why leather jackets should be conditioned right before they are stored away for the season. and i’m really glad i already know the sofa visible from your webcam is fabric

    • P=mv says:

      Neatsfoot oil works like a dream on most leathers. It is normally used to keep saddle leather supple.

  3. Anathema777 says:

    It’s “Ask Heloise” day at the Consumerist!

  4. shinseiromeo says:

    I could use some help on this one… I have a leather couch where the seat cushions are cracking. One got so bad there are “holes” in the leather, though not through the fabric. Besides replacing the entire leather surface, are there places that can possibly patch these areas or am I out of luck?

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      if it’s on a non curved surface you may have some luck with “leather weld” flexible leather glue. it’s like a variation on tacky glue but i’ve never had luck with tacky glue holding as well on leather.
      some craft stores have it, or tandy leather

      it’s not designed for edge to edge repair so it’s a little tricky to repair a crack with it, but the fabric backing being intact will work in your favor. you just have to make sure the cushion gets a full day to dry and it would help to lay some plastic wrap or waxed paper over the glued crack with something flat and heavy on it [like a big book]

    • balance776 says:

      You can purchase a leather repair kit from a Hobby store or fabric store. (they make fabric repair kits as well). You will probably need some sort of backing as well, if the hole/crack is very wide. You can usually use the iron on backing strips sold at those same stores. They usually come in a selection of colors for backing, and the repair kits typically can match any color.

      the hardest part of these repair kits is matching the color really. Ive used these a number of times in the past. I even repaired a burn hole in the arm of a microfiber couch, and my wife didnt notice the repair until over 4 years later lol

    • theconversationalist says:

      Sounds like you may have a “bonded leather” couch. Bonded leather is not real leather, but leather bits that are whipped together with glue, spread into sheets, and cut. The problem is that since it’s not a continuous piece of leather, the glue is the weak point and it’s all over the surface. For that reason, bonded leather is more like a crappier-than-vinyl vinyl product. It cracks and flakes over time and gets WORSE looking rather than better over time.

      They should not be allowed to call bonded leather “leather” at all.

      • El-Brucio says:

        Yeah, Consumerist might have been better off with expanding the article to “know your types of leather” to help keep people from being ripped off.

        Chances are if that “leather” sofa is really cheap, it’s not really what most of us would consider leather.

    • newmie says:

      You are out of luck. You needed to take care of the leather as you went along. There are several good porducts in auto parts stores that are for car leather.

  5. longfeltwant says:

    I never thought leather was nice to sit on. I mean, some leathers are okay at the extremely posh end of the scale, but in almost every case I strongly prefer cloth, almost any variety of cloth, with some being nicer than others.

    Do we have some leather lovers in the house? Can you explain the appeal? Is it an emotional appeal, or is there good reason to prefer leather?

    • pinkbunnyslippers says:

      I like the appeal of leather because it’s SO much easier to keep clean, especially with pets in the house. Fur just sweeps right off, as do other things pets typically leave behind if you catch my drift. I just also love the way it feels lounging on it, but that’s just me. The downside is it’s cold in the winter and you stick to it in the summer.

      • SmokeyBacon says:

        I was just going to say the same thing – it is a lot easier to get the cat hair off the leather than it was when we had a fabric sofa. We cover it up a lot with blankets when sitting on it but when company comes over it takes a lot less time to dust off the fur. And believe me, we have a lot of fur at our place.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Since my house is so arid, I get a lot of static buildup. It would be nice to have leather instead of the microfiber couches I have now. I literally get a huge static buildup every time I stand up or move to a different spot on the couch.

    • TexasMama37 says:

      I like the leather because it’s easier to keep clean with the kids. I have 5 kids, and the leather is so much nicer than the cloth sofa we had before. It does get cold in the winter, though. Also, it’s better for our allergies. For that same reason, we pulled up all the carpet and put down laminate flooring.

    • jeni1122 says:

      I have a Siberian Husky. Much MUCH fur. Way easier clean a leather couch than a cloth one when you have to contend with large quantities of fur, plus I like the look of leather couches better than cloth.

  6. Gehasst says:

    Slow news day today, eh?

    • Lyn Torden says:

      Isn’t this a holiday or something?

      • longfeltwant says:

        No. Almost everybody works today, which means it’s not a holiday. What this is, is a Free Don’t Work Day For Public Employees.

        Keep complaining about how your compensation is lackluster, public employees!

    • Nyall says:

      Its a mark of most popular “blogs” (slashdot, digg, reddit, etc) You need to satisfy the reward center in the brains of people who keep clicking refresh – at least every hour.

  7. AuntySemantic says:

    You know that’s what I thought when DH and I bought an obscenely expensive top of the line leather sofa from Maurice Villency (which of course is a synonym for obscenely expensive). What we learned to our dismay is that really high quality leather is very unforgiving and absorbs every tiny stain.

    I still love leather sofas, but when I replace this one it’s going to be with a lower quality leather that can actually be cleaned as described.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      look for a “pigment finish,” “protected aniline finish,” “fake aniline finish” or “coated finish” as opposed to a “true” or “pure aniline finish” or a “chrome finish”
      chrome finish or pure aniline finish are treated to let more of the grain show and to be more supple but they definitely absorb a lot more oils and dirt

    • webweazel says:

      Clean it with the saddle soap and let it dry. Then use ‘Renaissance Wax’ on it. I have used it for many years on leather. It pretty much “waterproofs” it but leaves no residue at all. A tiny jar costs about $20, but you could probably wax your couch a few times over with it as you use such a small amount at a time. Rub the wax on a small area, and buff immediately.

  8. rpm773 says:

    I’m going to have to blame the OP on this one…

  9. ninabi says:

    We live in an extremely hot, arid climate- and what prevents saddle leather from drying out and cracking is olive oil, rubbed in and left to sit overnight.

    The same is done to our brown leather recliners every 6 months and they look much,much better. Even the moisturizing leather cleaner/conditioners didn’t work as well. And no, they don’t feel greasy or oily, ever.

    • Skeptic says:

      Olive oil goes rancid…so I’ll take a pass on that, though I assume that you haven’t had that problem, so who knows.

  10. pop top says:

    Now will this help any leather daddies and mommies that are on Consumerist?

    • mauispiderweb says:

      I hope so, cause leather does not breathe. Imagine what it’s like after a hot, sweaty night at the Hellfire Club?

    • JennyCupcakes misses her grandson says:

      There’s a new daddy in town… A discipline daddy!

    • McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

      I’ve been wondering how to bring back that shine in my Corinthian Leather my Chrysler Imperial is decked out with, because I’m a classy guy.

  11. kimmie says:

    Does this apply to leather seats in cars too? I just got them, need to look up maintenance and care.

    • GearheadGeek says:

      It’s actually MORE necessary to maintain the leather in a car, because generally the leather in your car is exposed to more extreme conditions than the furniture inside your house.

  12. nautox says:

    I use Lexol Cleaner and their Conditioner on my car seats, steering wheel and couches at least once a year.
    It’s ph balanced which I think makes all the difference (your sweat is acidic)
    my .02

  13. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    We bought a really nice leather couch 15 years ago and have done nothing other than occasionally vacume junk out of the cushion cracks and wipe yucky places clean. It still looks new.

  14. fordprefect says:

    Put it out to field every now and then, make it remember its place?

  15. maruawe says:

    Most people who have leather furniture are to lazy to care for it. Keeping it clean is work and it seems that more and more people are becoming allergic to work of this type ,because it is beneath them to do physical work of any kind……..Very sad but true especially with college graduates