Leather sofas and all other leather furniture need to be dusted with a dry cloth and a monthly leather cream applied to keep the material soft and moisturized - in fact, the leather cream can also be used to clean any dirt or stains. As long as you clean and care for the leather properly, the material will only improve over time. You know, like a bottle of wine.
Oulton and Pourny, two New York-based restoration experts and authors of The Furniture Bible, will share top tips on how to clean leather sofas and other furniture, as well as the secrets to bringing back furniture that has seen better days.
- Gather materials
These are the cleaning supplies you'll need when finishing your leather surfaces:
- Soap and water first
To treat light stains, soak a clean towel in warm, soapy water and then rub the stain on the leather with a specific leather soap commonly known as saddle soap. Deeper stains, such as ink pen stains, are another matter. According to Christophe Pourny, "a cotton swab dipped in alcohol is all you need. Carefully apply it directly to the stain so that the alcohol does not spread the stain to more of the leather.
- Dry the leather thoroughly
Be sure to carefully dry the leather with another clean, dry cloth to avoid mildew," Pourny notes. For best results, leave the cleaned leather overnight.
- Apply leather paste
Apply leather paste with a clean cloth to re-wet the material. Let it sink into the water and give it a polish if you wish.
Now that you know how to clean leather like a pro, here are some more tips on how to care for your leather furniture to make it last longer.
Be aware that some leathers are made to look more durable.
Aniline-dyed leather furniture, where the dye penetrates the entire material, is not only durable, but actually looks lived-in, Oulton says." Instead of covering and sealing the surface with colored coatings, we hand-beat the dyes and waxes into the leather. As a result, we feel the furniture will wear out, not wear in. It's easy to work with and produces a rich sheen over time."
Design your furniture layout in a way that protects the leather.
"In most cases, environmental conditions can cause leather to crack - extreme temperatures and lack of moisture," Oulton says." Placing a sofa under an air conditioner, next to a radiator, or in front of a roaring fire can dry out the leather." Sunlight can also have this effect, so avoid placing furniture next to windows or glass doors, or hanging it up for shade, says Pourney Curtain.
Keep your pets away from leather furniture.
Cats, and sometimes dogs, use leather as a (very expensive) scratch, so ask them to stay off the sofa." I think that's the biggest cause of damage we hear about from clients when they call the studio," Pourney says.
Moisturize the leather regularly.
To treat a specific unwanted area, find the right treatment for your type of leather. Oulton recommends Leather Masters. no matter what, use a light hand." When using any product on leather, less is more. Test a small area first," says Pourny." Be extra careful with colored leather, and know ahead of time that any product can darken the leather."
If the leather is cut or torn, seek professional help.
Don't risk damaging the leather further by trying to repair it - cleaning leather is a DIY job, but repairing it is not." For larger cuts, we recommend contacting a professional who can restore the leather by heating it to blend the color and grain," Pourny says.
Speaking of professionals, take any leather furniture or merchandise to a shoe repair or leather care specialist, not a dry cleaner.
If that doesn't work, go to a professional shoe repair store or leather care specialist for help." Even if it's a little controversial, avoid taking your clothes to a local cleaner, even if they advertise suede and leather care," says Poultney." I don't know anyone who has had good luck with them, but the damage will be irreversible."