Most of today's leather furniture is made to withstand everyday use and the odd spill or stain. Manufacturers use a protective topcoat that keeps stains from penetrating the surface. A subsequent application of a water-based leather protector/conditioner restores your furniture to like-new condition. Spot test older leather in an inconspicuous location to test cleaning products. Bleaches should be avoided as alternate leather cleaning products are far less likely to harm your furniture.
Many cleaning products contain some type of bleach. Recognizing the chemical names of assorted bleaches that are listed on the labels of cleaning products will help you to avoid harming your costly leather furniture. Avoid cleaning with formulations that contain hydrogen peroxide, sodium berborate or sodium hypochlorite. Many localities add chlorine to their tap water. Clean with safe, pure, distilled water available from your local pharmacy or home improvement outlet.
Most furniture outlets provide information from the manufacturer outlining the proper care required to extend the life of your new leather furniture. Over-the-counter leather conditioning cream or homemade hide food will nourish the leather surface. To make hide food, mix one part vinegar with two parts linseed oil. Shake well in a tightly-sealed container. Apply the product using a soft cloth, covering the entire surface. Wait 10 minutes, and buff the leather with a clean, soft cloth.
A moisturizing soap, such as that you would use to gently clean your face, is good for your leather furniture as well. Lather the soap on a soft cloth and remove surface grime. Do not over-wet the leather. Rinsing is not required. Instead, buff the surface with a soft, dry cloth, allowing the soap to moisturize the leather. Polish your furniture with hide food or leather conditioner.
Blot water-based liquid spills without rubbing them into the leather. Allow the surface to air dry. For butter or grease stains, blot, let dry and let sit for 24 hours. If traces of the stain remain, use a leather sofa cleaner according to product directions. Use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or acetone-free nail polish remover to remove ink stains. You can apply leather cleaner/conditioner to restore moisture lost during the cleaning process.
Cleaning Light-Colored Leather
Clean dark stains on light-colored leather furniture using a paste containing one part lemon juice and one part cream of tartar. Rub the paste on the stain, and let it sit for 10 minutes. Apply another layer of the paste, and work it into the surface using a gentle, circular motion. Remove the cleaning product with a slightly-dampened sponge or a sponge lathered with moisturizing soap. Follow up with an application of hide food or leather conditioning cream.