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How to Clean a Leather Sofa

Real leather sofas are a popular choice in many homes and for good reason. Their instantly recognisable smell, soft supple texture and long lasting durability, make them a stylish and practical addition to any living room.
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From classic brown leather Chesterfields to contemporary black leather sofas, they suit every interior style. Despite their versatile nature, real leather sofas still require a certain level of care and upkeep to keep them in excellent condition throughout their lifetime.

Cleaning leather can cause confusion and often unnecessary worry amongst home-owners, so we are here to help. Follow these simple steps to clean and care for your leather sofa.

Vacuum with a soft brush

To remove dust and small debris from your leather armchair, footstool or sofa, regularly vacuum the entire body with a soft brush attachment. Avoid using a plastic nozzle directly on the leather to prevent scratches or indentations from the suction. Vacuuming dust and dirt ensures that these particles are not pressed into the fine grains of the leather during the cleaning process.

Blot with a damp cloth

For small marks or excess dust removal, use a damp (but not wet) cloth and gently blot the problem area. Avoid forceful wiping or scrubbing movements and do not saturate the area with water. Small, grimy spots of dirt should not require more than this and a less is more approach is required.

Use a damp, soapy cloth for more difficult patches of soiling, but use a mild soap, ideally fragrance free with natural ingredients. Alternate with a clean, dry cloth to lift off the dirt and prevent the leather from getting too wet.

Use specialised leather cleaning products

For larger or deeper stains that have sunk into the leather, buy a professional leather cleaning product. Only ever use a product designed specifically for leather as other cleaning products, particularly household sprays, can strip away the leather’s natural oils, causing it to dry out and crack over time.

Test the leather care product out on a small patch of the sofa that is out of sight before proper use. Remember that real leather is a natural material and needs to be treated with care and caution in order to retain it’s soft, supple texture and resulting comfort.

Once you’re confident that the particular product will work well with your sofa, carefully follow the product’s directions for use and always apply minimal amounts and add more if required.

Condition the leather

Once your leather sofa is completely dry, massage a light coating of leather preservative over the entire sofa. Use a clean cloth and work in circular motions, focusing on one area at a time. Use a natural, wax-based conditioner for best results. Once complete, buff the sofa all over with another clean cloth to really make the leather shine. Condition your sofa regularly with specialised leather care products to preserve the material and keep the leather soft, smooth and shiny.

You do not need to condition the leather after wiping small areas of dirt, however we’d recommend doing so after a more rigorous clean or at monthly intervals.

For more information on caring for your furniture, read our guide on how to care for a wooden table.

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