Leather Care & Cleaning Tips

With so many options on the market, it can be difficult to choose between fabric and leather upholstery for the various pieces in your home. If you’re considering leather, you’ll discover many reasons to love it. Leather furniture is timeless, in part because it can last for many years if well-made and well taken care of; its durability and wide variation in appearance make it a top choice for many homeowners.

Leather furniture isn’t difficult to care for, but it does require some specific know-how to keep it looking its best over time. Follow our leather care tips and learn the differences between leather upholstery and fabric upholstery care; although taking care of leather furniture requires some focus, it’s certainly worth the extra attention in the long run!


  • Value: Leather furniture is often bought for a lifetime. Since leather is a natural product, aging brings out its natural patina, making it even more beautiful over time. And because it tends to last much longer than fabric, this is a purchase that makes a great investment.
  • Durability: Leather furniture is as safe as any other furniture in the house as long as your pets don’t damage it. If you have dogs or cats that chew or scratch your furniture, but you still prefer leather furniture, select a protected leather that has an extra finish applied to it (we recommend this even if you don’t have pets for the added ease of cleaning – see below).
  • Comfortable Temperature: As opposed to auto leather (which is highly affected by outdoor temperature) indoor leather furniture warms to your body heat in the winter. Because it’s natural and can breathe, leather also stays pleasantly cool in the summer. Nice!


  • Excessive heat will dry leather out over time, so make sure that you place your leather furniture away from any direct heat sources in your home.
  • Leather furniture should also be protected from direct sunlight, as the sun’s rays will fade the color.


  • Remove dust from your leather furniture by cleaning it regularly with a slightly damp cloth. Be sure not to soak the cloth, as the excessive water will damage the leather.


  • Use a dry cloth to blot anything that spills on the leather and then allow it to air-dry. Please resist the urge to rub those spills!
  • Leather really is easy to care for. To clean, just use a conditioner every 6-12 months and wipe up spills as they occur with a clean cloth. Avoid using normal cleaning supplies, such as soaps, detergents, solvents, etc. See more details below.


  • To clean your leather pieces, just use a conditioner every 6-12 months and wipe up spills as they occur.
  • Avoid using normal cleaning supplies, such as soaps, detergents, solvents, etc.
  • Use cleaners and creams made specifically for leather furniture to keep your leather pieces soft and supple and to increase resistance to stains. Leather-care products are easily available at home improvement stores.


Most leather furniture (and apparel) today are protected, which makes them pretty simple to clean yourself. If you’re not sure whether the leather is finished, lightly scratch the material with your fingernail in an inconspicuous area. If it leaves a mark, consider hiring a leather-cleaning expert to take care of it. If there’s no mark, feel free to clean the surface using these tips.

  • Always try any cleaning method in a hidden area first to determine how it will affect the material.
  • For minor spots and spills, wipe up any excess liquid immediately with a clean, dry, absorbent cloth or sponge. If necessary, use a lightly moistened soft cloth with clean lukewarm water, and let it air dry naturally. If water is used, clean the entire area where the spot occurred.
  • Do not use cleaning solvents, furniture polish, oils, varnish, abrasive cleaners, or ammonia water.
  • For butter, oil, or grease stains, wipe off excess with a clean dry cloth, then leave it alone. The spot should dissipate into the leather after a short period of time. You can also try sprinkling it with baking soda or corn starch, letting it sit overnight, then wiping or vacuuming off. If this doesn’t work, try rubbing alcohol, but very sparingly! Apply a leather cleaner/conditioner after removing the spot.
  • If the stain persists, we recommend having a professional leather specialist clean the leather to avoid any potential damage to the leather itself.
  • For minor or slight scratches on the surface, use a chamois cloth or clean fingers to gently buff the scratch. If needed, moisten lightly with distilled water to work small scratches out.

If you found this information useful, don’t miss the two previous articles in this series: