Wondering how to care for leather furniture? Get these tips on how to clean leather furniture quickly.
4 kids. That’s 4 mouths with peanut butter at the corners, 8 muddy knees, and 40 sticky fingers. That’s a lot of potential mess on the furniture… especially when the great outdoors and the kitchen are both just two steps away.
If you saw our living room reveal at the ranch, you know that low maintenance was a top priority for me, so we chose leather furniture for the space. But given that leather furniture is often more of a cost investment that fabric, I thought it might be helpful to share how I protect that investment. We’ve had leather sofas as long as I can remember (I was raised in a family of four kids, too, so it just made sense!)… And caring for leather really is easy.
how to care for leather furniture
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I think some people get worried about proper leather furniture care, but in my experience, it’s far easier than fabric to care for with very little time and effort. I have always just prioritized keeping it clean (vacuuming or wiping up any crumbs or spills) and avoiding getting it too wet (as that can sometimes leave water spots).
It’s important to remember that care is easiest with high quality leather furniture. I am not a leather expert, but I have noticed a difference with various leather pieces we’ve owned over the years. The higher quality leather tends to be more forgiving and easier to clean. It also helps (in my personal opinion) to choose a leather that is a little more rustic, as the natural variations and patina only grow more beautiful over time.
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How to clean leather furniture
Ok, so I mentioned dusting and wiping the furniture… but how do you clean leather furniture? You know, like when your toddler sprays a full pouch of applesauce all over it? Or when your husband drips red wine on it? True stories. 😉 . I have found that blotting a spill as much as possible and then giving it time to rest is best. Like my real marble kitchen countertops, real leather is a natural, porous material. It often absorbs imperfections into it, and they slowly disappear over time.
Admittedly, it sometimes gets a little grimy because mom doesn’t see all the strawberry hand prints or milk drops… Leather also gets a little dried and worn out from time to time. Though our new sofa and chairs don’t have any spills yet (hooray!), I thought our ottoman in the main house (which is the same leather as our new sofa, and we’ve had it about a year) was a perfect test case to share my tactics. Especially because it’s basically a target for my toddler’s food-covered hands: close to the kitchen and right at her level.
When that time comes, all I do is get a rag barely damp and rub in a soft, circular motion over the entire surface.
Oh, and always say yes when your four year old offers to help. Especially when she’s wearing a fancy head wrap. 😉
The point is not to get the leather wet (remember, it can sometimes leave water spots) but rather to break up any surface grime and simply work the natural oils from the leather around. Almost like buffing the leather. You can see below how it helped recently.
If you look closely at the top image, you can see a milk spot, a large water stain, and a dark brown strawberry spot. In the bottom image, you can see how a quick rub enriched the overall color and patina, removed the surface dirt, and even softened the scratches (and yes, some of those scratches just might spell the name of one of my children – and no, mom was not happy about it) because it’s working the natural oils around in the leather.
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If the leather gets super dry or especially stained, then there are leather conditioners and cleaners that can help. But I try to stick with the technique above as long as possible because, in my experience, leather cleaners and conditioners can sometimes change the shine or depth of the leather, especially on a light-colored leather like this caramel. In fact, I haven’t used one since an old bottle I had ran out several years ago. If you have a favorite to recommend, let us know in the comments!
How about you? Do you have leather furniture? If so, how do you clean it?
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