Leather Accent Chairs: How to Clean and Maintain Them

Nothing is more beautiful and commanding than leather. When used in any room, be it a living room or home office, even a faux leather accent chair has the simultaneous ability to look both relaxed and polished.  It can emanate rustic charm, farmhouse chic, and formal elegance, with a wide array of chair features including retro nailhead trim, a high back, dark brown solid wood frames, and button tufting, which can all lend to different styles of different price points while still maintaining that classic look.  Leather accent chairs even come in a diverse variety of uses, with leather office chairs for even a small space, or as a side chair in a dining room, these chairs add sophistication and class to almost any interior design, and are a great way to create a beautiful focal point in any part of a home. 

One of the underrated benefits of owning a leather chair is that they are experts at concealing dirt. While cloth chairs are beautiful and available in a myriad of colors, they do quite often show dirt more than their leather upholstery counterparts, especially with certain types of upholstery materials.  If you own a brown leather or black leather lounge chair, chances are you may forget altogether that it ever needs to be cleaned, especially in comparison to other living room furniture.

If you’re team leather, all the way, you should know the proper way to care for your leather armchair to keep it in good condition.  At Whom, we know the quality, and we know chairs.  We’ve been producing sturdy, high-quality, custom-built accent chairs crafted from sustainably sourced wood in a factory we've owned and operated for over two decades.  We exist to give you furniture that lasts and looks amazing for a lifetime.  As such, we know the ropes for furniture care, and we’re willing to share that information directly with you.  We’re kind of like your furniture besties. 

Leather care is extremely simple to master and can be done in less than ten minutes.  Leather accent chairs don’t need to be cleaned more than once a month unless they are heavily used, or soiled from a spill or stain.  If a stain occurs, it’s best to treat it immediately.  Waiting to treat the stain can cause it to set into the fabric and become immovable.  Here’s how to effectively clean and maintain your leather accent chairs in just a few easy steps. 

 

Prepare for Cleaning

Before beginning, refer to your furniture manufacturer’s care instructions to make sure you can clean your leather accent chair at home, especially with genuine leather and top grain leather.  Most all manufacturers will use a standard furniture care guide that will help you determine what solvents you can use to clean it, if any.  An overview of the standard furniture cleaning guide follows: 

  •         W:  When an accent chair bears this symbol, you may use distilled water and water-based cleaning agents to clean your chair.    
  •         S:  “Solvent only.”  Do not dry clean this fabric and do not use water.  Use only a solvent-based cleaner.    
  •         SW: Solvents or distilled water may be used to clean this furniture. 
  •         X or O:  Vacuum only.  Any deeper cleaning would need to be handled by a professional. 

Once you’ve determined your cleaning method, you can gather your materials.  Most leather accent chairs will likely bear the SW symbol, meaning you can use both a mild solvent and water to clean and maintain your chair.  Here is a list of items you will want to have on hand for leather cleaning: 

  •         Saddle soap or other mild cleansing soap
  •          A vacuum cleaner with attachment, or handheld vacuum
  •         Warm water
  •         Microfiber cloth
  •         Cotton swabs or balls
  •         Rubbing alcohol
  •         Optional leather treatment

These materials don’t need to be used every single time you clean your leather accent chair, but having them on hand will make cleaning your chair relatively quick and effortless.  If you aren’t in need of a full cleaning at this time and are instead just spot cleaning, you can simply use a microfiber cloth, rubbing alcohol, and swab.  We’ll cover spot treatment later, so stay tuned.

 

How to Clean Your Leather Accent Chair

If you’ve gotten all your materials together, you’re ready to begin cleaning.  Here’s a step by step cleaning method that will have your leather accent chair spotless in no time. 

  1.     The first thing you’ll want to do is vacuum your chair. It’s best to do this with a small vacuum attachment or a handheld vacuum.  This will eliminate crumbs, loose hair, pet dander, dirt, and debris that can interfere with proper cleaning and stain removal.  Nothing is worse than cleaning and feeling like you’re simply pushing dirt around from one spot to another.  Vacuuming first effectively solves that problem. 
  2.     Next, it’s time to get wet. Most of the time, the surface stains you see (or perhaps don’t see) on your leather furniture can be easily removed with mild soap and water.  Saddle soap is a great choice because it’s designed to clean leather specifically, but it isn’t the only thing that will get your leather clean.  You can even use mild laundry detergent on your leather furniture to get a great clean.  Just be certain the ingredients do not contain anything that the manufacturer of your piece says cannot be used on your chair. 

Using your microfiber cloth and a bucket of warm soapy water, gently massage the cloth over the surface of the chair in a circular motion.  Be sure to wring your cloth out from time to time to make sure you aren’t spreading dirty water around and creating a bigger mess than you started with. 

  1.     Treat stains. Once you’ve removed as much dirt as possible with soap and water, you will need to bring in the heavy hitters to eliminate stubborn stains.  This is best done with rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab.  Most stains (even ink) that penetrate onto a leather accent chair can be eliminated by simply dabbing the stain with a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol.  Be sure not to rub the swab around, as this can cause the stain to spread. 
  2.     Let dry. At this point you can let your leather accent chair dry completely.  You can speed up the process by toweling off the furniture, but it is best to let the chair dry completely overnight to avoid the possibility of mildew. 
  3.     Treat with leather conditioner. While this step isn’t required for cleaning, using a leather conditioner is a great way to maintain the integrity of your leather accent chair and keep it in peak condition.  It’s also effective in helping the leather avoid cracking over time. 

That’s it.  In less than ten minutes you’ve thoroughly cleaned your leather accent chair and it should look as beautiful as the day you purchased it.  If you simply need to spot treat your leather accent chair, we can give you the how-to for that process as well right below. 

 

Spot Treating Leather Accent Chairs

Sometimes you don’t need a thorough cleaning. Especially for a chair that serves more as decoration than it does as an additional seat, a thorough cleaning may only be necessary once or twice a year.  In between cleans, you can spot treat any stains or spills to keep the chair looking great.  To spot treat your accent chair, you’ll need a clean cloth, cotton swab, and rubbing alcohol. 

Soak the end of a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and gently dab the stain with the swab, being careful not to rub the swab around on the leather, as this can cause the stain to spread.  It may take a few swabs to completely remove the stain, but be patient.  Avoid the urge to scrub.  Keep dabbing the rubbing alcohol-soaked swab on the stain and then blotting the area with a clean, dry cloth.  This should effectively eliminate the stain. 

 

Leather accent chairs are charming additions to any living space, especially reading nooks, and are virtual chameleons when adapting to a particular style. With a long list of possibilities including mid-century modern club chairs, tufted wingback chairs, barrel chairs with tapered legs, or even a swivel accent chair, adding a leather accent chair into your home decor brings a certain timelessness to even a modern design alongside the most contemporary metal frame chaise or 21st-century style dining chair. A leather seat is perfect as a modern accent chair, especially with familiar rounded armrests, the comfiest seat cushions, iconic wood legs, and clean lines that bring a certain vibe to any room it providing extra seating for. 

Caring for your leather accent chairs is a very simple process, too, and generally doesn’t require any expensive or specialized materials.  You can keep your leather accent chairs looking brand new by cleaning them regularly and maintain spot treatment as necessary.