How to Clean a Dull Old Leather Chair

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Over time, old leather furniture or luggage may show signs of neglect if it hasn't been properly maintained. Like skin, leather requires cleaning and moisturizing to keep it looking its best. Freshen up dull, old leather, whether on a chair or vintage storage trunk, by cleaning it first, then shining it up with a store-bought or homemade leather moisturizing conditioner made from natural, healthy ingredients.

Crucial Cleanup

That old leather most likely needs a good cleaning in order to see what it really looks like. Moisturizing it without cleaning may just smear dirt around and create a bigger mess. Clean the leather by first vacuuming the piece with an upholstery-brush attachment. Use a crevice tool to vacuum between nonremovable cushions or in hard-to-reach spaces. Wipe all the leather surfaces with a clean microfiber cloth to remove any lingering dust, then follow up with a slightly damp white, soft cloth. A little moisture helps open up the leather's pores, making it more receptive to leather conditioners. If the leather is extremely dirty, rub on a dedicated leather cleaner, using a soft white cloth to apply the material. Follow the package instructions, which may vary by brand.

Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum cleaner with upholstery brush and crevice tool
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Soft white cloth
  • Leather cleaner (optional)

Restoring Moisture

Leather conditioner moisturizes dull, dry leather, making it look soft and supple once again. Apply a small amount of a conditioner to a soft white cloth, then rub it on an inconspicuous area of the leather, testing it to see its effect before applying it over the entire piece. Testing also gives you a feel for how much conditioning the leather needs; if the leather is in fairly good shape, it may need just a little conditioner; if the leather is really dry, it may absorb a lot of the conditioner, requiring more of it. Rub the conditioner over the entire leather area. Wipe off excess conditioner, if necessary, with another soft white cloth. If you prefer an all-natural conditioning method, make your own leather conditioner from flax oil and vinegar.

Homemade Leather Conditioner

Make your own all-natural, nontoxic leather conditioner from ingredients from the pantry and a natural market. Mix 1 part food-grade flax oil with two parts white vinegar in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake the mixture to blend the ingredients. Rub the conditioner onto the leather sparingly at first with a soft white cloth, testing it in an inconspicuous area to become familiar with its properties. For fragrance, add a few drops of orange food-grade essential oil, if you prefer. Keep the solution in the refrigerator for optimal storage if the flax oil bottle's label recommends refrigeration; many brands do.

Tip

  • Food-grade flax oil, also known as flaxseed oil, is available in liquid form in natural markets and dietary supplement stores.

Things You'll Need

  • White vinegar
  • Food-grade flax oil
  • Glass jar with tight-fitting lid

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