Leather is a gorgeous material for covering couches and chairs and can last a long time, given the proper care. But what do you do if you're a first-time, hand-me-down leather furniture owner and someone spills something on your beloved and somewhat ancient leather couch? If you're a complete beginner when it comes to leather furniture care and you're looking for help on how to clean it (and how to maintain it once it's clean), then here's what you need to know.
Gather Your Tools
To take care of your leather furniture, you're going to need some specialized (though not too expensive) equipment. Make sure that you have a soft bristle attachment for your vacuum, a few microfiber cleaning cloths, and white vinegar. You should also grab a cleaner made especially for leather furniture (the best ones are wax- rather than water-based), a wax-based leather conditioner, and some all-natural soap (without sodium laurel sulfate) in order to be prepared for any mess; it's always better to have cleaning implements on hand in case of an emergency, rather than having to let the stain set while you shop.
Take Care of the Mess
Analyze the spill; if it's something watery, like salsa, blot out the runny liquid and scoop up the offending mess to get it off the leather as soon as possible. Then, dampen one of your microfiber cloths and put a little bit of your mild soap on it, rubbing gently in small circles where the mess had been. Make sure to spot-test any cleaners, soaps, or conditioners on an unnoticed part of the furniture to make sure it won't stain. Once the mess is gone, you'll want to dampen another cloth and wipe off any soap that lingered.
For messes that require more heavy duty cleaning, you'll want to dip a damp (not wet!) cloth into leather cleaner (or, if you're using a wax-based cleaner, rub a little onto the cloth) and wipe in little circles, maintaining about a medium pressure. Work from the least dirty area to the most dirty, taking care to always use a clean part of your cloth. Once you've finished cleaning, make another pass over the area you worked on with a different damp cloth to remove any excess cleaner, and then buff the couch with a dry cloth to give it back its shine.
Maintain the Clean
Once your leather furniture is clean again, maintenance will keep it looking good for years to come. Every week, make sure you vacuum any dust off of it with your soft bristle attachment, so that when you actually have to clean the leather due to a spill, you won't be rubbing dust into the furniture. Keep your couch away from heat sources or direct sunlight to prevent it from drying out or discoloring, and take care to soothe the leather by using leather conditioner on it once or twice a year.
For more information, consider talking with century furniture stores for tips on maintaining leather furniture.