Getting Stains out of Leather Furniture

Routine maintenance keeps it looking fresh

Leather sofa chair in front of living room fireplace

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Leather furniture is simple to clean and maintain, at least most of the time. Barring a few emergencies when you are better off calling a professional, you can do the job yourself fairly easily. It's an extremely forgiving material.

While leather furniture is expensive, it can last a lifetime, and the investment pays off with just a little everyday care. Keep the instructions from your manufacturer when you buy leather furniture, and before looking elsewhere for tips on cleaning and maintenance, refer back to them because they will be geared toward the specific type of leather in your furniture. Different types of leather are used in manufacturing furniture, and each may require different methods of cleaning.

If your leather furniture did not come with instructions, try the gentlest cleaning methods first. Before cleaning, always test in an inconspicuous spot. It is best to consult a professional if the stain seems hard to remove.

When cleaning, remember to use a circular wiping motion and don't scrub. Never use harsh chemicals, alcohol, strong detergents, or abrasive cleaners to clean leather. All of these can cause irreparable damage to a leather sofa. Remember that when cleaning leather, gentler is always better, and strong abrasives could cause even more damage than any stain.

Routine Cleaning and Care of Leather Furniture

Wipe down leather furniture with a clean, soft, white cloth every week or so. Do this more frequently in a dusty environment. Why should the cleaning cloth be white? It ensures that you don't deposit dyes on your leather couch by mistake, and it is also easy to see if you have removed all the dirt.

Vacuum your leather furniture from time to time, just as you would for any other upholstery material. But unlike other upholstery, you can use a damp, soft cloth to remove dirt build-up if you have not been cleaning it regularly. Just make sure your cleaning cloth is not soaking wet.

Grease Stains

You should not use a damp cleaning cloth on grease stains because you will not be able to get the grease out with water. For grease stains, it is best to use a dry, soft cloth and a blotting action. Press down to blot up as much grease from the leather surface as you can.

Follow up the blotting with a sprinkling of talcum powder or cornstarch on the leather surface. Allow it to sit for a while and then brush gently away using a brush with soft bristles. You might have to repeat this process a couple of times. Do not rub. This technique also works on fabric.

Water Stains

Water stains look ugly, but they can be easily remedied. The best fix is to blot with a soft cloth immediately, as soon as the spill occurs.

If the water has dried and you did not get to the stain in time, use a soft damp cloth and starting from the stain, wipe outward, toward the edges of the surface in all directions. Do not scrub, just wipe gently. Useless and less moisture as you go outward. This technique provides a uniform effect for the entire treated leather surface while minimizing the stain. 

Ink Stains

Ink stains on leather are among the hardest to remove and might need to be cleaned by a professional depending on the kind of ink and the severity or size of the stain. As with any other stain, fresh ink stains are easier to remove.

Small marks, such as those from ballpoint pens, might disappear on their own over a period of time. You can also try cleaning smaller stains using a gentle soap solution.

Big blobs of ink need to be treated professionally. Do not use alcohol to clean your leather furniture because you could damage the color.