DIY Network

Tips for Cleaning Leather Upholstery

Leather is a popular choice in furniture, car interiors, clothes and accessories. Along with the cozy leather sofa and the great shoes comes the frustration of keeping them clean.

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noursih leather with vinegar and linseed oil

Always keep leather furniture out of direct sunlight to prevent drying and cracking the leather.

To nourish the leather, feed it a “hide food.” Mix one part white vinegar with two parts linseed oil, shake well, and apply to the leather using a soft cloth. Work in a circular motion, covering the entire surface. Rub in thoroughly, let it sit for about 10 minutes, then buff with a soft cloth to bring a shine to the leather surface. You may need to buff once more before sitting on the furniture.

Remove stains such as ink by dipping a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and rubbing over the spot. Dry the area with a blow dryer. If the stain remains after drying, apply a thick coat of non-gel, non-oily cuticle remover. Leave on overnight, then wipe off with a damp cloth.

Remove dark stains from light-colored leather upholstery by mixing a paste of one part lemon juice with one part cream of tartar. Rub the paste on the stain and leave in place for about 10 minutes. Apply another layer of the paste, work it in, then remove with either a damp sponge or a damp sponge topped with moisturizing soap.

For general leather cleaning, use a moisturizing soap, such as Dove. Lather on with a soft cloth, and wash the item to remove dirt and grime. Do not overwet the leather and do not rinse after washing, just buff with a soft cloth; this allows the moisturizing soap to condition the leather. Polish as usual.

Remove road salt from leather shoes by mixing equal parts water and white vinegar. Dip a cloth in the mixture and wipe over the leather. This may have to be repeated several times to clean the surface. Buff and apply a paste shoe polish.

Some slipcovers can be laundered in the washing machine. Large slipcovers should be cleaned in a commercial machine, but always test for colorfastness before washing.

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