Leather sofas are a great investment and can last for years if properly cared for.
Most homeowners don't realize that leather furniture needs to be regularly cleaned and maintained correctly to preserve our furniture for the long run.
Consider this leather sofa protection guide as your manual for the next twenty years.
Follow these ten tips to help preserve your new leather sofa.
Clean Your Leather Sofa Regularly
Cleaning your leather sofa is one of the most essential parts of maintaining your furniture. Vacuuming and dusting your sofa can help avoid the accumulation of dirt, pet hair, and dust that can lead to scratching of your leather. Using a handheld vacuum with solid suction such as the Dyson V7 is an excellent way to keep the sofa dirt-free.
In addition to vacuuming, leather sofa cleaners can be used to help clean your leather furniture. The type of cleaning product used will vary based on your type of leather - so I recommend consulting your manufacturer's website or manual to see what kind of cleaning product they recommend.
On average, most manufacturers recommend that leather furniture be cleaned with a cleaning solution every three to six months.
I will note, however, that for any spot cleaning, I use a dry cloth or a damp microfiber towel (with a tiny bit of soap) to clean my leather sofa.
Quick Note - any of the aforementioned regular cleaning tips would also apply to faux leather (aka vegan leather).
Apply Conditioner To Your Leather Sofa
The average leather sofa consists of hides from six to seven cows, so consumers often forget that their living room furniture is that of multiple former animals!
Once those cowhides become your leather, they are no longer living creatures, and thus the hides no longer receive the oils necessary.
This is where conditioners or softeners come into play. The objective is to apply natural oils to your leather furniture to keep it soft and supple without drying out.
Un-conditioned leathers (especially those left in direct sunlight) are more prone to fading and cracking. In addition, if you live in a dry climate, your leather sofa may require more conditioning.
Your manufacturer might recommend a good leather conditioner. You can always check out the leather care products at Leather Solutions Int'l, a recommended dealer for Hancock & Moore, one of the best leather sofa consumer brands.
On average, most leather professionals recommend conditioning your leather sofa at least once a year. For me, I just set a date that I can remember every year and do it then.
Keep Your Leather Sofa Out Of Sunlight
Sun helps dry out leather and leads to more fading and cracking. One of the biggest tips I can provide is to get that leather sofa out of direct sunlight. Once a couch has started to crack or fade, it gets tougher to repair the furniture.
If your living room is filled with big windows, I would recommend adding some window coverings to help reduce the amount of sunlight during the daytime.
In addition, don't position your leather furniture near any significant heat sources, such as fireplaces or wood stoves.
Clean Up Leather Spills Immediately
When pets or humans make a mess of your leather sofa, you’ll need to take immediate action. To tackle any water-based spills, use an absorbent cloth and blot up as much liquid as possible.
Things get a bit more complicated with any grease or ink-based stains. Some say that rubbing alcohol, for example, is a good solution for ink stains; however, doing so will likely remove the color from your leather sofa.
Note that there are certainly some differences in cleaning up spills, based on your type of leather, whether if protected or aniline leather.
Given that aniline leather is more sensitive to staining versus protected leathers, it is crucial to attend to your leather surfaces as soon as possible.
Don't Use Any Abrasive Cleaners
This is an important one. I noted to avoid any alcohol based products for stain removal. It's important to review your manufacturer's care manual to see what they recommend for any cleaning products.
It is also crucial that you use the right products that match up with your leather type. For example, a protected leather sofa will use a different type of cleaner than an unprotected, aniline leather sofa.
Lastly, suppose you are using a cleaning product that your manufacturer does not recommend. In that case, you run the risk of voiding any potential warranties if the cleaner damages your leather for some reason.
Apply Leather Protectants As Recommended
Again, be sure to consult with your manufacturer's recommendations for your specific leather sofa. You can use other after-market products, but it is all dependent on the type of leather furniture you have.
Whereas a leather cleaner and conditioner will clean and soften your leather, a leather protector will add an additional layer of protection to help prevent cracking, peeling or discoloration.
There are many different manufacturers out there, and each furniture company recommends different ones. For example, West Elm and Pottery Barn recommend a cleaner and leather protectant from Mohawk.
Note that a leather protector isn't an ABSOLUTE necessity, especially if you are careful about any spills and not leaving your sofa in direct sunlight.
Keep The Pets Off The Furniture
I know, I know, little Oreo loves to snuggle up with you at night, but unfortunately both dogs and cats can really mess up your leather sofa. Cats, in particular, love to scratch furniture, so unless you're cool with kitty leaving some claw marks in your sofa, it might be best to keep him off.
I will note that some owners are okay with their pets scratching up their unfinished leather couch (aka full aniline leather) as most of these pieces already have some clear imperfections that show marks and scratches from the original hide.
Amazon does sell a pet furniture repellent spray that some readers have used with success, however my advice would be to start with training to get them used to living life OFF of your couch.
The investment you make in your leather furniture is worth protecting. With these seven leather care tips, you'll be able to lengthen the duration of your leather furniture and keep them looking new for years to come.
Have any other recommended leather cleaners, furniture care tips or other ideas for protecting leather furniture?
Let me know in the comments below!