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Everyday Cheapskate: How to Clean Leather Furniture

Mary Hunt on

When it comes to furnishing your home, it's difficult to find anything more luxurious and elegant than fine leather. With that elegance comes the challenge of how to clean it and maintain it so it gets even better with age.

If your leather furniture is stained or looking a little on the tired side, follow these suggestions to perk it up.


First, determine the type of leather you're working with. You want to know if it is aniline or top-coated. Typically, this information will be found on the tags or the brochure you were given when you acquired the item.


This type of leather is dyed exclusively with soluble dyes. The dye colors the leather without producing a topcoat or sealant. Aniline leather is a natural leather that has a very soft finish, is very absorbent and stains easily. Do everything you can to keep it free of stains and spills.



This is the most commonly used finishing technique for leather used to upholster furniture and automobile seats. The finish consists of an opaque base coat followed by a protective topcoat. Since the natural color of the leather is covered completely, the leather can be identified by its uniform color.

Most leather furniture these days has top-coat protected leather, which is usually safe to clean as follows:



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