Tips to Restore Your Leather Couches and Chairs

Photo by photogl via Shutterstock
Photo by photogl/Shutterstock

A leather couch is a piece that serves as a stately, beautiful addition to your home. Yet, with time as you enjoy using it, the leather couch that was the centerpiece of your living room can get faded and dull, taking away from the overall look of your room. As you look at your investment and wonder what happened, don’t fear. You can salvage that leather couch and return its once rich and vibrant look with the help of proper leather care.

Focus on Getting It Clean

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First, before you begin any restoration, you need to clean the upholstery well. This is tricky, because anyone who has tried to clean leather knows that cleaning it with water or detergent, as you might have tried with non-leather upholstery, can damage the leather.

To avoid this problem, choose a mild cleaner designed specifically for leather. Look for one that is made from non-toxic ingredients, so you do not risk further damage to the leather from harsh chemicals. Before using the cleaner, brush off any visible dirt or debris, and consider using a vacuum to get loose crumbs and dust out of crevices on the upholstery. Beyond this basic dusting, however, you should not need to do any cleaning before using the leather cleaner, because the right leather cleaner will offer powerful cleaning action.

Many leather cleaners need to be diluted prior to use, so follow the instructions to properly dilute the cleaner. Then, test a discreet area of the upholstery before cleaning the entire piece, just to ensure that the leather does not react to the cleaner. If it does not, clean the leather using a small amount of the cleaner on a lint-free cloth. Take caution not to over-saturate the leather, and allow to dry completely after it’s cleaned.

At this point you may already notice a difference in the look of your leather couch or chair, because some of the dullness comes from caked on dirt and dust. However, to truly restore your leather, you need to do some conditioning as well. 

What Is Leather Conditioning?

Leather is a product made from the hide of an animal. During the animal’s life, it constantly replenished its hide with natural oils. Once the hide has been turned into leather, it no longer has access to these critical oils. That is why leather often dries and cracks as it ages.

Leather conditioner restores that important moisture. With the right leather conditioner, your dry, cracking upholstery can look like new again, simply by giving the leather the moisture it needs. 

How to Use Leather Conditioner

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Applying leather conditioner is easy. Your couches are already clean at this point, so you need to grab a new lint-free cloth and apply a small amount of your chosen leather conditioner to the cloth. Then, rub it into the leather. You may notice a slight darkening of the leather, but don’t worry, this is normal. In most cases it will lighten as the conditioner dries.

Working a little bit at a time, cover the entire couch or chair with your leather conditioner. You may notice a bit of excess on the surface, which is OK at this point. However, if you are seeing a lot of excess, you are using too much conditioner. A quality leather conditioner will go a long way using a small amount, so start with just a little and work your way up to more if you need it.

Once the couch is covered, it needs to dry. Let it dry overnight, if possible, to ensure that all areas are fully dry. Once the upholstery is dry, wipe off the excess conditioner. You will be amazed at how beautiful and clean your furniture looks.

Tips for Choosing the Right Products

With just a little bit of work, your leather upholstery can be in close to new condition again. However, the key to success is finding the right product. As you shop for leather cleaner and conditioner, look for a product made from natural, non-toxic ingredients. If possible, find a product that comes from a company that specializes in leather care. Doing so will ensure that the product gives you the desired results.

With the right product, you can restore the look of your leather couch, chair or other piece of furniture, breathing new life into it and saving yourself the cost of replacing an expensive piece.

Photo by Alex Roz/Shutterstock


About the author:
Jim McGowen is the founder of Leather Honey Leather Conditioner, the #1 selling leather conditioner on The company’s new product, Leather Honey Leather Cleaner, works to clean the leather prior to conditioning. A supplier to many industries, Leather Honey has the perfect leather conditioner for furniture.