Leather is one of the most popular materials used in furniture upholstery as well as car interiors. Together with leather’s luxurious appearance and cozy comfort come the worries of keeping it clean. Here are general steps to cleaning leather-upholstered furniture:
First of all, prevent the leather from drying and cracking by always making sure that leather furniture is not directly exposed to sunlight. Keep the leather in good condition by wiping it with a solution of white vinegar and linseed oil in a ratio of 1:2. Shake the solution well before applying to the leather in circular motion using a soft cloth.
Wipe the entire surface and rub in the mixture thoroughly, letting it sit for approximately ten minutes. Then, use another soft cloth to polish and make the leather surface shiny. You may have to polish the furniture a couple of times before use.
A good moisturizing soap is recommended for general cleaning of leather upholstery. Lather the soap on a soft piece of fabric and wash the furniture to remove grime and dirt. Make sure not to make the leather overly wet. Therefore, never rinse leather upholstery after washing. Instead, just wipe the leather with a soft, clean fabric to let the moisturizing soap condition it. Afterwards, polish the leather as usual.
As an added tip, if you use leather slipcovers, check the care label to see whether you can wash them in the machine. Also, always check if they are colorfast before washing. Bring large leather slipcovers to a professional cleaner to be cleaned.
It is necessary to keep a regular schedule of cleaning leather upholstery and, more importantly, always use the proper products for leather care. The use of the wrong products is typically the reason why leather upholstery deteriorates. If you do not want to use homemade leather cleaning mixtures, look for good quality foam leather cleaners that are water-based. You can also protect any light-colored leather furniture from being stained by dark dyes and inks by using a leather protector.
Never use cleaners, conditioners and polish that contain silicones, waxes and oils because these substances will ruin the leather’s finish in the long run. For your car interiors, the same rule applies so check your car cleaner to make sure it does not contain waxes or oils that will leave residues on the leather’s surface, draw more dirt and later cause cracking.
Another kind of cleaner that you should never use on leather is baby wipes because it will definitely ruin the finish of the leather. Baby wipes may seem totally perfect for cleaning since they are meant to use on the most sensitive skin, a baby’s, but when it comes to cleaning leather upholstery , this is the exact opposite. This is because baby wipes are highly alkaline or anti-acid in order to work against urine. And as any person who really loves leather knows, a slightly acidic environment nourishes leather.
If you intend to use saddle soap, choose specialist soaps that are very mild. The same is true for leather wipes, many of which unfortunately do not live up to their claims and only cause damage to the surface of the leather. The use of dishwashing liquid is also discouraged because these products contain salt that will destroy the surface of leather.
After cleaning leather upholstery, finish with a good-quality leather protector which should also be water based. This product helps make the next cleaning easier by inhibiting the absorption of dirt and stains. To rehydrate dry leather, use water and not oils or waxes in order for the leather to retain its natural oils. Just wipe a damp cloth over the leather regularly. Water is often enough to moisturize leather.
Do-It-Yourself Stain Removal
If your leather furniture becomes stained, don’t be alarmed because there many ways to remove stains from leather. Whether you would be using a commercial cleaner or a homemade solution, the sooner you work to remove the stain, the easier the job would be.
Regardless of the cleaners you want to use, start by blotting out liquid spots using paper or cloth towels. This many be the only thing you would need to do if liquid spills are the cause of the stain. Use the cloth towel to absorb the entire spill, dabbing the towel over wet areas. Afterwards, air-dry the furniture.
Another way to remove stains is to simply dip a cotton bud in rubbing alcohol and then rub this over the stained area. Use a blow dryer to dry the affected spot. If the stain has not been removed after drying, apply a generous coat of cuticle remover that is non-gel and non-oily. Leave the coating on overnight and then use a damp cloth to wipe it off in the morning. If gum got stuck on the leather, use a cardboard or the dull side of a knife to scrape off the gum. Harden the gum with ice to make it easier to lift off.
If your leather furniture is light-colored and the stain is dark, a mixture of lemon juice and cream of tarter with a ratio of 1:1 is an effective solution to remove the stain. Just rub the mixture on the stain and leave it for about ten minutes. Then, re-apply another coating of the mixture, rub it in, and wipe off with a damp sponge. You can also use a moisturizing soap with the sponge.
Another cleaning technique using homemade cleaner makes use of a water and soap mixture. Make sure the soap to be used is neutral or has a pH factor of 7, anything higher makes it alkaline and will be damaging to leather. Rub in the mixture onto the stained area with a soft cloth, turning it often. Wipe the spot dry right away and then use a blow dryer to dry the area. Make sure to hold the dryer not too close to the spot to prevent rings from forming.
If the attempt to remove the stain is unsuccessful, use a stronger solution consisting of water and ammonia with a ratio of 4:1. Repeat the above process but just be more careful about attacking all the stains at once to protect the upholstery’s surface.
Certain parts of leather recliners and sofas like the arm rests and head rests require more attention since these areas are constantly in skin contact so they are likely to be exposed to oils and other chemicals that we use in our body. Therefore, cleaning these areas more frequently will help ensure the furniture stays in top quality.
Stain Removal Using Commercial Products
Some owners of leather furniture prefer to use commercial leather cleaners right away while others choose to try out homemade solutions first and only seek the commercially-prepared ones when their solutions doesn’t seem to work. In any case, much of the cleaning process is the same.
First, get rid of as much of the stain on the leather as possible through blotting, gentle scraping and soft brushing. Spray just a little amount of the cleaner onto a soft fabric. Massage the leather thoroughly with the product, turning the fabric often. Wipe the leather dry right away using a clean cloth. Be careful with some cleaners that can scratch plastic.
You may have to repeat the whole process if the stain was not removed. Do not be alarmed if the cleaning cloth you’re using appears dirty although the stain has been eliminated. This is because leather has a natural sheen or patina on its surface that develops with age.
Leather is more expensive than other textiles used in auto interiors and upholstery and they are also a lot more durable. Most people associate leather with luxury and the common perception is leather is difficult to clean. The truth is, with vinyl as the only exception, it is easier to clean leather than any other material used for upholstery. The fact is there are even shops that charge more for cleaning fabrics than they do cleaning leather.
How to Maintain Leather Furniture
Still, keeping leather furniture in good condition requires some knowledge. Most people think there’s no difference between leathers so they assume cleaning leather car interiors would be exactly the same as cleaning their leather couches. But this is a common mistake about leathers. For instance, soaps used to clean saddles are typically oil-based products and if you use the same soaps on your leather couch, it will cause stretching in the leather and will lose its original appearance. In addition, oil-based soaps and cleaners can also alter the color of leather.
The simple steps described above are the best ones to follow in cleaning leather furniture. Regular dusting and simply wiping the leather with a damp piece of cloth are the proven ways to maintain leather. In addition, treating the leather with a conditioner every quarter of the year does wonders, too.
With leather furniture adorning your home, you really want to keep those pieces handsome and always in top condition as when you bought them. Leather furniture is expensive compared to other types of furniture so it will not be surprising if you want your investment to last a long time. The quality of the workmanship of the furniture is just one of the factors that will affect how long they will last. Also an important factor is how well the furniture pieces are taken care of.