Stains, Mopping, Wiping, Ironing, Cleaning/care of leather couch

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Question
couch
couch  
We recently got rid of our old leather couch because there was a rip at the spot where the head rests. I believe it was caused because we failed to apply leather lotion on a regular basis, which would have prevented the leather from drying out. Now we bought a new leather couch a month ago and I've noticed that where my head rests (see photo, below the towel) a dry (matte-like) finish already seems to be forming. Does this mean the new couch is already on the path to being damaged? We have put a towel there to protect it for now. Thanks.

Answer
Based upon the position of the spot in the photo I would say that it is from oils from hair/scalp. Leather is porous by nature, and it will soak up any oils you put on it – and that includes natural body oils from skin and head. It can get into the back side of the leather and then, eventually it ends up saturating broader areas as it naturally fills up from back to front over time. Whether or not the sofa is permanently damaged will depend upon the length of time the spot has been there and the quality of the leather and manufacturing process (top coat, etc.)
If you want to get rid of oil spots yourself it is important to determine the type of leather you’re working with. You can typically find this information on the tags attached to your furniture or in the written material distributed with your furniture or you can also contact your furniture retailer or manufacturer. The tags and other written information generally provide tips on cleaning your particular furniture. (NOTE: It is recommended that before attempting any of the following suggestions that you follow the cleaning procedures recommended by the manufacturer of your particular furniture. When you purchased your furniture your retailer may have supplied you with leather care products which may be more appropriate for your furniture than the cleaning solutions suggested here).Most of today’s leather furniture will be made with top-coat protected leather which is generally safe to clean with the method below. Some types of leather (although rarely found on today’s furniture) cannot tolerate water and should only be cleaned professionally.

What You Will Need
   Vacuum cleaner with soft brush attachment
   Mild liquid facial or body soap (such as Dove or Neutrogena)
   Distilled water*
   2 clean containers or buckets
   4 soft white towels (face or dish cloth size )
   Water-based leather protector/conditioner (found in most furniture stores)

*It is best to use distilled water because tap water may contain chlorine and other contaminants which can damage the surface of the leather.
Cleaning Instructions

   Vacuum thoroughly, being sure to use the soft brush attachment (leather scratches easily). If the suction on your vacuum is too strong, consider using a smaller hand held vacuum with less power to prevent leaving marks on the leather.
   In one container mix a few drops of liquid soap with about a quart of distilled water, mixing until suds form.
   Test a small, inconspicuous area of the furniture first.
   Dip one of the towels in the soapy water and wring out thoroughly.
   Wipe the surface of the spot with the damp towel.
   Dip a separate towel in a separate container filled with plain distilled water, wring thoroughly, and wipe away the soap residue.
   Dry thoroughly with the third towel.
   Buff the surface with the fourth clean towel to restore luster.
   Treat the surface with a leather protector/conditioner as per product instructions.

Leather does occasionally need to be replenished. Although there are products on the market for this, you might try mixing 1 part distilled white vinegar with 2 parts linseed oil. Shake well and apply to leather in broad circular motions. Let sit for about 10 minutes, then buff with a soft cloth. A second buffing may be necessary.

Do's & Don'ts:

  DO clean spills immediately! Because leather is porous in nature liquid can penetrate the surface and a stain may be extremely difficult to clean.
  DON'T use any type of harsh cleaners or abrasive cleansers on your leather furniture as these may cause damage to the surface.
  DON'T use any kind of oils (such as mink oil), furniture polish, or any product containing waxes or silicone (including many car care products) on your leather furniture as it may damage the leather and leave it feeling sticky. Consequently, be very careful when using Pledge, or any other type of furniture polish, around your leather. Generally, it is not good to use saddle soap, varnish, ammonia-based cleaners (i.e. Windex) or bleach on your leather furniture, all of which may be too harsh for the leather and may cause serious damage or discoloration.
   DO vacuum and dust your leather furniture on a regular basis to help the leather breathe and last longer.
   DON'T place leather furniture in direct sunlight and keep it at least two feet away from any heat (i.e. heating vents, fireplaces, radiators, etc.) and air conditioning sources. This will help keep it from fading, drying out and/or cracking.
   DON'T use baby wipes or any other alkaline cleaner on your leather furniture as it may damage the finish.
   Remember, if you have any doubt as to the proper way to clean your leather furniture; DON'T hesitate to call a professional.  

Stains, Mopping, Wiping, Ironing, Cleaning

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R Adams

Expertise

3m Certified carpet cleaning instructor can answer questions regarding spots/stains on carpet and other floor coverings and possible ways to remove same. Can also answer questions with regard to upholstery cleaning. I do not recommend specific name brands, companies or products.

Experience

10 years as a Former 3M Certified Carpet Cleaning Instructor. Certified flooring inspector for major mills 1985-present.

Organizations
Floor Covering Inspector Training School; FCITS Floor Covering Inspection Technical Services; FITS Certified Claims Inspectors Association; CCIA

Publications
Hartford Courant

Education/Credentials
B.S. Chemistry 1971 A.S. Physical Science 1969 Armstrong Certified Installer 1972 3M Certified Carpet Cleaning Specialist 1976 FCITS Certified in Carpet and Hard Surface, Commercial and Residential

Past/Present Clients
GE, Phoenix Insurance Group, McDonalds Corp, WTNH, US NAVY, Xerox, Time Warner, Pitney Bowes, Conair, Yale New Haven Hospital, UCONN, Price Waterhouse, PepsiCo

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