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How To Remove Stains From Leather

Leather furniture doesn’t come cheap, so you want to make sure you’re taking excellent care of it. But no matter how cautious you are around your leather couch or chairs, you’re living life on and near them, meaning the occasional stain is inevitable.

However, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing that can be done about spills or grease smears. Learn how to remove stains from leather furniture, so you can keep your living room suite looking sweet for years to come.

Note: Before cleaning leather, you should always consult the manufacturer’s care instructions.

Before We Begin: A Leather Primer

Not all leather furniture is created equally, which means you there’s no universal answer for how to remove stains from a leather couch. Most sofas, loveseats, chairs and ottomans made from this material are one of two types: aniline-dyed leather or pigmented leather.
  • Aniline-dyed leather: Also known as “unfinished leather,” this material is more natural in appearance, as it doesn’t have a finishing coat applied to it. Aniline-dyed leather tends to be softer and richer in color.
  • Pigmented leather: These leathers are also dyed with aniline, but their surfaces are coated with pigment. It isn’t quite as soft its aniline-dyed counterpart, but it does tend to be more durable and is less likely to fade over the years.

How to Clean Unfinished Aniline-Dyed Leather

Because this leather is so delicate, you should always call a professional — like Furniture Medic — for help when there is any sort of staining you need removed, be it water, grease, ink or so forth. Otherwise, you could cause irreparable damage to your home furnishings.

Cleaning Water Stains on Leather Couches or Chairs

Water seems so innocuous, but it can leave unsightly rings on everything from wooden furniture to leather sofas. If you catch these spills immediately, you can often just soak them up with a dry microfiber cloth. But when they’re left to sit, cleanup will take a little more work.

You’ll need:
  • Natural or white microfiber cloths (You don’t want any colors to bleed on your leather as you clean.)
  • Distilled water
  • Leather conditioner
  1. Dampen the microfiber cloth with water.
  2. Start at the center of the stain and gently wipe outward using a circular motion.
  3. Continue wiping the stain until you can no longer see the mark.
  4. Let the surface dry. If the water stain is still there, repeat the process.
  5. Once the mark is gone and the furniture is dry, treat the leather with the conditioner recommended in your manufacturer’s instructions.

How to Clean Grease Stains on Leather

Grease and leather were never meant to be. Unfortunately, food gets dropped and our pets’ natural oils can leave streaks or smears on leather furniture.

You’ll need:
  • Dry microfiber cloths
  • Corn starch or talcum powder
  • Leather conditioner
  1. Blot as much grease as you can from the furniture using a clean, dry microfiber cloth.
  2. Sprinkle cornstarch or talcum powder over the affected area until it’s covered.
  3. Let this sit overnight. (Make sure you lock any pets out of the room so that they don’t get into the powder and track it all over your home.)
  4. The next day, gently wipe the powder away with a clean, dry microfiber cloth.
  5. Repeat the cleaning process if needed.
  6. When all grease has been removed, apply the manufacturer-recommended leather conditioner to the area to restore your furniture’s shine.
  7. You can also use dishwashing liquid to remove grease from pigmented leather furniture.
You’ll need:
  • Microfiber cloths
  • A mild grease-fighting dish soap
  • Distilled water
  • Leather conditioner
  1. Use a dry microfiber cloth to blot as much grease as you can from the area.
  2. Mix a few drops of dishwashing liquid with water to create a lather.
  3. Dampen your microfiber cloth with the solution.
  4. Gently dab the stained area with the cloth, making sure to work in one direction.
  5. Switch out your cloth for a fresh one and dampen this with distilled water only.
  6. Dab the leather just as you did with the soapy mixture, carefully and in the same direction, to remove any traces of cleaning solution.
  7. Blot the area dry with a fresh microfiber cloth.
  8. Repeat as needed until the stain has lifted.
  9. Apply the leather conditioner recommended by your manufacturer’s instructions

Removing Ink Stains from Leather Furniture

Whether you’ve forgotten about the pen in your back pocket or one of the kids has decided to customize your furniture, ink stains happen. When they do, they leave leather looking just plain awful, which was probably not the aesthetic you were going for.

There’s no home remedy for this mishap. You’ll need to invest in an ink-removal stick formulated for leather. Fortunately, these are fairly inexpensive and can be found at office supply stores, hardware stores and online.

Apply the stick according to the directions on the package. Once you’ve finished the treatment, give your leather furniture some TLC with the conditioner recommended by the manufacturer.

Now you know how to remove stains from leather furniture, so the prized pieces in your living room can bring you joy for a long time.

Looking for more ways to keep your living room looking sharp? Check out these tips on cleaning lampshades, then learn how to give your home a sleek look by marrying organization and home décor.

And if you’re finding there’s just not enough time in the day to keep up with your routine housekeeping schedule, don’t fret: That’s what we’re here for! Your local Merry Maids offers plenty of services — including living room cleaning — that can help you keep your home neat and tidy when life seems overwhelming.