Leather sofas require tender loving care. If you clean them with the wrong solutions, you can permanently damage or discolour the leather. If you want to keep your leather sofa looking like new, you will need to clean it periodically with a solution that can safely remove dust, dirt and debris.
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Cloth and Vacuum
If you only need to remove dust and tidy up, "Good Housekeeping" recommends using nothing more than a soft cloth and vacuum cleaner. For dusting, you can use a feather duster in place of a soft cloth, but you should use a cloth immediately to absorb liquid spills. A handheld vacuum or a vacuum cleaner extension hose can remove accumulated dust and dirt from inside the crevices.
For patent leather, you can maintain the natural shine by dipping a cloth in white vinegar and wiping down the entire surface of the sofa. You do not need to rinse the leather, but apply the vinegar conservatively, since it could change the colour of the leather if used in excess. To avoid the overuse of vinegar, wring out the cloth before wiping down your sofa, so that you have a damp (as opposed to a soaked) cloth.
If your leather sofa becomes plagued with mildew, try applying rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol can safely clean leather while killing mildew spores, according to a report from the University of Missouri Extension. Mix equal parts warm water and rubbing alcohol, apply the solution to a soft cloth and wipe down the leather. Always dilute the rubbing alcohol with water, and only use it for spot-cleaning in emergency situations, since excessive use of alcohols may discolour the leather. When dealing with mildew, you will want to dry the leather quickly since mildew must be dried. To avoid using heat, dry the leather sofa using a hair dryer on a cool setting.
Baking soda also makes an effective cleaner for leather sofas. Just dampen a soft cloth with warm water and dip it in baking soda. Then use the cloth to scrub any black scuffmarks. Rinse the sofa using a second cloth dampened with cold water. If a pet has an accident on the sofa, use dry baking soda to absorb the liquid and deodorise the leather.
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- University of Missouri Extension; How to Prevent and Remove Mildew -- Home Methods; Wanda Eubank, et al.; April 1998
- Environmental Protection Agency; Safer Cleaning -- An A to Z Resource Guide; Sam Umscheid
- "Good Housekeeping"; How to Clean a Leather Sofa; Heloise
- "Good Housekeeping"; Caring for Shoes and Boots in the Winter; Carolyn Forte