Here's what you need to know about leather furnishings and how it compares to fabric furniture. We’ll show you the benefits of leather and what you need to know about cleaning this material.

By BH&G Editors
Photographer: Adam Albright

If you're like most consumers, when it comes to the final decision-making process, there may be some last-minute doubts about what furniture is best for you and your home. And if you're considering leather furniture, you may have some questions about how leather differs from fabric.

We spoke with Dallas-based custom leather furniture manufacturer American Leather to learn the most common myths and misperceptions about leather furniture. Here are the facts that will have you making your next purchase in complete confidence.

Photographer: Adam Albright

Benefits of Leather

There are many benefits of leather, whether you choose the material for your furniture or footwear.

  1. Longlasting: The fact is, leather furniture is something you buy for a lifetime. Since leather is a natural product, aging brings out its natural patina, making it even more beautiful over time. And since leather furniture is something you can enjoy for years to come, this is a purchase that makes a sound investment. You'll find that leather lasts much longer than fabric and can be a better value.
  2. Easy Care: Leather is easy to care for. To clean leather, just use a conditioner every 6-12 months and wipe up spills as they occur with a clean cloth. Avoid using normal cleaning supplies—like soaps, detergents, solvents, etc.
  3. Durability: Unless your dog thinks your new leather couch is a chew toy or your cat thinks it's a scratching post, your leather furniture is as safe as any other furniture in the house. For more peace of mind, select a protected leather for your furniture, which has an extra finish applied to it. This helps protect the leather so pets and kids can sit on the couch with none of the usual worries.
  4. Steady Temperature: Leather seats in a car get hot in summer and cold in winter. But for leather furniture indoors, you'll find that it warms to your body heat in the winter. In the summer, since it's natural and can breathe, leather stays pleasantly cool. Just keep it out of the sun (which is hard on the color, too).

General Leather Cleaning Tips

If you've ever wondered how to clean a leather couch, purse, or shoes, follow these must-know tips first to prevent stains or scratches.

  1. Always try any cleaning method in a hidden area first to convince yourself of the results.
  2. For minor spots and spills, wipe up any excess liquid immediately with a clean 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.
  3. Do not use cleaning solvents, furniture polish, oils, varnish, abrasive cleaners, or ammonia water.
  4. For butter, oil, or grease stains, wipe off excess with a clean dry cloth, then leave alone as the spot should dissipate into the leather after a short period of time.
  5. If the stain persists, it is recommended that a professional leather specialist clean the leather to avoid any potential damage to the leather itself.
  6. For minor or slight scratches on the surface, use a chamois or clean fingers to gently buff the scratch. If needed, moisten lightly with distilled water to work scratches out.

Remember that leather is a natural product and requires some care to maintain the natural beauty of the hide.

How to Clean Leather Items

How to Clean a Leather Sofa or Chair

Under normal usage/conditions, regular dry-cloth dusting and vacuum cleaning in crevices or along the bottom are all that is necessary to clean leather furniture. The use of a good leather conditioner is recommended every 6-12 months. To keep up the look of your leather, protect your furniture from sun and direct light. Like any upholstery material, leather can fade to some degree if exposed to the sun.

How to Clean a Leather Jacket

Before cleaning a leather jacket, check the label and follow the recommended wash instructions. If there are none, follow these steps. Add two teaspoons of dish soap to a bucket of warm water. Mix the solution and dip a clean cloth into the water. Wring out the excess and carefully wipe the jacket, spot-cleaning any spills or stains. Quickly after you apply the soapy mixture, wipe the leather jacket dry with a second clean cloth.

How to Clean Leather Shoes

A pair of black leather boots is a fashion staple. Here’s how to keep them looking like the day you bought them. Like all leather products, spot-clean leather boots immediately if you spill any liquid on your shoes. For regular cleaning, use the same soap and water solution as described in the leather jacket description above. Another great way to clean leather boots: baby wipes. They’re gentle on leather shoes and you can keep a portable pack in your purse or suitcase for travel.

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