How to clean a leather table top

Written by drue tibbits
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How to clean a leather table top
Leather tabletops have special cleaning requirements. (leather image by Andrii Oleksiienko from

Leather tabletops used to be a luxurious feature of only high-end tables. Today you can find leather tabletops on almost any kind of table. Because tabletops are subjected to many kinds of abuse, leather tabletops are treated with water- and stain-resistant finishes. Incorrect cleaning methods can damage or ruin this finish, however, leaving your leather tabletop vulnerable to water spots, stains and wear damage. You can keep your leather tabletop looking new by using the proper cleaning and maintenance procedures.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Soft cleaning cloth
  • 3 clean rags
  • Bar of moisturising soap
  • Hand towel
  • Leather conditioner

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  1. 1

    Wipe off the tabletop with a soft cloth to remove any dust or debris.

  2. 2

    Moisten a clean rag with water until it is barely damp. Rub the damp rag over a bar of moisturising soap, lightly, to pick up some of the soap on the rag.

  3. 3

    Wipe the leather tabletop with the rag, rubbing in circular motions. Work quickly to minimise the amount of time the leather tabletop is in contact with water.

  4. 4

    Dampen a clean rag with water. The rag should be damp but not dripping.

  5. 5

    Wipe the leather tabletop until all traces of soap are gone, again working quickly. You may need to dampen a second clean rag to clean off all the soapy residue from the leather tabletop.

  6. 6

    Dry the leather tabletop with a clean hand towel. Wipe over the surface of the tabletop to remove the water, and allow the leather to air dry.

  7. 7

    Apply a coat of leather conditioner to the tabletop to replace any oils lost in the cleaning process. Follow the conditioner's instructions on how to apply it and work it into the leather.

Tips and warnings

  • Keep your leather tabletop as clean as possible by dusting it frequently.
  • Apply a coat of paste wax to your leather tabletop once or twice a year, which will help your tabletop resist moisture and spills.
  • Avoid setting drink glasses on the leather tabletop as this can leave water spots or rings. Use coasters under the drink glasses.

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