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by Tricia Goss
Leather is a versatile and stylish material, and leather furniture is attractive and elegant in any room of your home. Leather also has a rich, luxurious texture that conforms to your body, providing a cozy place to sit or clothing that fits perfectly. It is extremely durable yet soft and can even help you stay comfortable, since leather feels cool when the temperature rises and warm during colder weather. Learning proper leather care will help you enjoy your favorite leather items for many years.
Keep it clean. Dust leather or remove light, dry dirt regularly using a soft, clean cloth, such as a microfiber cleaning cloth or a clean piece of an old cotton T-shirt. For leather chairs, sofas and other furnishings, care for the pieces by vacuuming them regularly. Be sure to use your vacuum's soft brush attachment to avoid scratching or otherwise damaging the soft leather.
Care for any spills on leather as quickly as possible. Use a clean, dry cloth or paper towels to soak up liquid spills. Blot up the liquid without rubbing or you may inadvertently massage the stain into the leather by doing so. Continue blotting up the liquid, using several cloths or paper towels if necessary, until no more liquid shows on the towel or cloth. Apply cornstarch to oily or greasy spills, rubbing the starch into the stain. The friction caused by the rubbing motion will heat the oil, allowing the cornstarch to absorb more of the spill. Vacuum off the cornstarch and repeat if necessary. Ink from a pen that has leaked inside of a leather purse or onto a leather sofa may be cleaned with rubbing alcohol applied with a cotton ball or soft cloth. Gently massage a small amount of alcohol directly onto the ink spot. Repeat until no ink shows on the cotton or cloth. Be sure to test a small, inconspicuous area first to test for colorfastness before applying alcohol.
Avoid heat and sunlight. Keep furniture out of direct sunlight and at least two feet away from heating vents or other sources of heat. Doing so will help keep your leather supple, prevent cracking or peeling and prevent it from fading.
Twice a year, apply a conditioning leather treatment that will nourish and moisturize the leather. Pay special attention to areas that receive the most wear, such as the cushions and arms of leather furniture or the strap of a leather purse. In addition to conditioning the leather twice a year, you should also condition it following any type of cleaning, as cleaning the leather may strip it of its necessary oils. However, avoid using saddle soap to condition softer leathers found on furniture, jackets and purses; it can damage, discolor and even cause the leather to crack.
Test your methods. Before applying anything, a leather conditioner or cleaning product, to leather, perform a test on a very small, inconspicuous area, perhaps the back, bottom corner of a couch or underneath the footrest of a leather recliner, to check for discoloration or any undesirable effects on the leather.