Sticky paws and fingers won't result in a serious clean-up with leather furniture.

Extending the Life of Leather Furniture

by Mary Love

If you are searching for durable furniture that can withstand the wear and tear of an active family, consider investing in leather furniture. While it can be more expensive than furniture upholstered with fabric, long-wearing leather can be a great asset for an active family. With a little care and maintenance, your growing family can enjoy furniture that will remain supple, comfortable and attractive for many years.

Light Cleaning

Unlike fabric upholstery, dust settles on, not in, leather furniture. A weekly dusting with a soft, clean cloth can easily remove particles. If you prefer, use the soft brush attachment on your vacuum to clean the leather. To remove debris between seams and under cushions, use the crevice tool on your vacuum cleaner. Weekly surface cleaning can help preserve the original finish on your leather.

Spot Cleaning

If spills occur, tend to them quickly. Blot them with an absorbent towel and avoid rubbing the stain, which can force the substance to seep into the pores of the leather. If your leather has a protective coating, dilute a small amount of mild detergent with water and apply it to the stain using a clean, white rag. Test this on a hidden area first to make certain the dye is colorfast and the water won't leave a ring. Avoid using harsh chemicals, saddle soaps or chemicals to clean spots as they can damage the color and finish.

Avoiding Crazing

If leather becomes too dry, its surface will craze and split, which can require a costly, professional repair. To prevent this, apply a commercial leather conditioner with a clean cloth twice a year. This will help keep furniture soft and supple. Because leather's origins, tanning process and dyes vary greatly, it's important to ask your retailer which products are compatible with your furniture. Heat can damage leather so it's important to position your furniture at least 12 to 24 inches from heat sources such as radiators, heat vents, fireplaces and space heaters. Place furniture away from windows and skylights to prevent fading and drying.


Keep objects with sharp edges away from the leather furniture. Leather can be punctured, which can require a professional repair. To extend the life of the furniture, change the spots where you sit so the wear is evenly distributed. If the cushions are loose, turn them over and switch their positions every two weeks. Avoid placing newspapers on leather because the inks can easily transfer to the furniture. If your cat uses your furniture as a scratching post, it can damage the leather. Make sure your cat has an enticing scratching post nearby so it will be less likely to scratch your favorite furniture. Keeping your dog's nails trimmed can prevent punctures and scratches.

About the Author

In 1982, Mary Love's first book, "Shakespeare Garden," was published. She also authored professional brochures. Love was the subject of a PBS special profiling Northwestern Pennsylvania artists, highlighting her botanicals and birds. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in art education from Edinboro University in Edinboro, Pennsylvania.

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