Word on the street is, leather is getting a bad reputation for being high maintenance, easy to scratch, and just all around difficult to deal with. Fortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. While a leather sofa may need a little more love than your average couch, the years of love you get back are well worth the bit of extra care.
Even though leather is a little more high maintenance than other materials, it’s still relatively simple to care for, and, dare I say simpler to clean?
While you should always check the tag on your furniture for special information on cleaning and caring for the leather, these 8 principles are nearly universal:
1. Clean up spills fast
A splash of water every now and again won’t ruin your fancy leather sofa, provided you wipe it up immediately. If you freak out about the spill, and the stain that it will inevitably cause, you will likely wait too long and wind up with a stain. Instead, wipe it up quickly with a soft cloth and allow to air dry, leaving you with a stain free, still pristine piece of furniture. If you don’t quite catch the spill on time, and are worried about staining, spread the remaining liquid over the cushion or section of the couch, and proceed to wipe the spill up from there. By spreading the spill to the edges of the section of leather, you are eliminating the line surrounding the watermark, often the most telltale sign of a stain.
2. Use only a soft brush or cloth to remove dirt.
Dirt and other small debris can scratch the leather during a wet cleaning or conditioning, creating imperfections and giving microbes the opportunity to grow. To avoid this, wipe your leather furniture regularly with a dry cloth, taking extra care to remove debris before cleaning or conditioning.
3. Speaking of cleaning…
Only clean using a damp cloth. Under no circumstances should you use cleaners with ammonia or alkaline, because they can damage the leather beyond repair. If absolutely necessary, a mild soap that is safe for use on people can be safe on leather, but there is no way to know for sure so proceed with caution.
4. Back to those pesky scratches
When it comes to leather furniture, scratching is inevitable, and while the first scratch on your brand new sofa will probably haunt you forever, fixing it (and the dozens of other scratches that are also kind of inevitable) couldn’t be easier.
When you first notice a scratch, simply rubbing at it with your fingertips can be enough to make it go away. The oil on your fingertips will blend with the natural oils on the couch, filling in the scratch like it was never there. If the scratch is too deep, or the fingertip method didn’t quite give you the results you were looking for, a can of shoe polish (we love Kiwi for its color selection, and availability at just about every grocery store) that matches your leather can fill in the scratch and blend it with the rest of your sofa. One final solution to scratches of every shape and size is Neatsfoot Oil. Applied in a circular motion, Neatsfoot Oil conditions and covers, blending scratches and scrapes while leaving your sofa softer than ever. If you happen to have a steamer, steaming a small area on your sofa can be a great way to reduce scratches.
5. Keep out of direct sunlight.
Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can dry out the leather, allowing it to crack and become discolored. To prevent this, avoid placing your leather furniture in an area where it is frequently exposed to direct sunlight, such as a sun porch.
6. Condition regularly to maintain the finish.
The tag of your furniture should specify how to properly condition your leather, but if it doesn’t, furniture protection company Guardsman has a wide array of polishes and conditioners for every kind of leather. If you’re still stumped, give them a call and see what they recommend to keep your furniture looking like new.
7. What about stretching?
We spend all day beating up on our leather furniture. Sitting, standing, jumping, leather can bounce back from a lot, but every now and then a piece of leather will stretch a little too far and have trouble regaining its original shape. Instead of sitting back down and succumbing to a life of misshapen leather, grab a hairdryer. You heard me, a hairdryer. Turn the hairdryer to the hottest setting and slowly heat the stretched out area. As the leather cools, it will shrink back to its original size and shape.
8. When in doubt, seek professional help.
If you treat your leather furniture with the care that you should treat any piece of furniture, there should be no need to reach out to a professional for help in the every day care and cleaning of your furniture. Sometimes, though, accidents happen, and when they do it is best to let a professional find you the best solution.