How to clean furniture: Tips for wood, leather, and wicker

How to clean furniture: Tips for wood, leather, and wicker


Just like anything in your home, furniture will need to be cleaned regularly to keep it looking its best. However, cleaning furniture isn’t a one-size-fits-all project. You’ll need to use specific techniques and cleaning solutions depending on the type of furniture you’re cleaning.


In this post, we’ll explain how to clean some of the most common furniture materials found in homes: Wood, leather, and wicker.


How to clean wood furniture


Wood furniture is usually coated in either a paint, stain, or wood finish. You’ll need to use a cleaning method that won’t cause damage.


Here’s what you’ll need


  • Cotton balls
  • A microfiber/lint-free cloth
  • Warm water
  • Dish soap
  • Mineral spirits


Steps for cleaning wood furniture


  1. Remove dust


Use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe away any loose dust and dirt off of your wood furniture.


  1. Test a spot with a gentle cleanser


Fill a bowl or small bucket with warm water and dish soap. Dip a cotton ball in the water and dab the cleaner in a small, inconspicuous area to make sure it won’t damage the wood finish.


If things look good after a few minutes, dip a clean, lint-free cloth in the water to get it slightly damp. Wipe the furniture down without saturating the wood with water.


Rinse the cloth in soapy water regularly as you work so it stays clean.


  1. For tough stains, try some mineral spirits


If you have a really dirty piece of wood furniture, mineral spirits are usually the best product to remove stains on wood.


Again, use a cotton ball to check that the mineral spirits won’t damage the finish.


If you’re confident you won’t damage the piece, moisten a clean cloth with mineral spirits and wipe down the furniture. It’s best to work in a well-ventilated area while using mineral spirits due to its strong odor.


  1. Wipe with a damp cloth


Once you’ve wiped the furniture down with cleaner, get a rag damp with clean water and wipe away any cleaner that’s been left behind.


  1. Dry your furniture


Don’t let wood furniture stay wet for too long. Grab a dry rag to get rid of any water and prevent water stains.


How to clean leather furniture


Quality leather furniture can last a lifetime if it’s cared for. Regular cleaning helps keep the leather pliable and prevents discoloration.


Here’s what you’ll need


  • Cotton balls
  • Saddle/leather soap
  • Vinegar
  • Warm water
  • Leather cream
  • Linseed oil
  • Microfiber/lint-free cloth


For stains:

  • Lemon juice
  • Cream of tartar
  • Rubbing alcohol


Steps for cleaning leather furniture


Dust or vacuum


Remove any loose dust and debris by dusting or vacuuming your leather furniture. Be sure to get between any cushions.


Use a gentle cleanser


You can either use diluted leather soap, sometimes called saddle soap, or a water and vinegar solution.


Mix your cleaner of choice in a small bucket with warm water. If using leather soap, follow the directions on the package. For vinegar, create a one-to-one solution.


Dip a soft cloth in the solution so it’s damp, but not soaking wet. Wipe down the furniture, focusing on dirty areas and stains. Rinse your cloth regularly to keep it clean.


Tackle any stains


Keep an eye out for any stains on the leather as you clean.


For dark stains, create a one-to-one paste using lemon juice and cream of tartar. Rub the paste on the stain and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Apply another coat after 10 minutes and remove the paste with a damp rag.


For ink stains, use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to blot – not wipe – the stain.


Dry completely


Grab a clean, dry cloth and wipe the furniture to remove any moisture that’s left on the leather.


Condition the leather


It’s a good idea to follow up with a conditioner to re-moisturize the leather.


Use leather cream or a mixture of one part vinegar and two parts linseed oil.


If you’re using leather cream, apply the cream with a clean, dry rag.


If you’re using vinegar and linseed oil, rub the mixture into the leather with a soft rag. Work in a circular motion and let it sit for about 10 minutes before buffing with a dry rag.


How to clean wicker furniture


There are two types of wicker typically used for furniture: Real and synthetic. Both types of wicker material easily collect dust and dirt, so they’ll need regular cleaning.


Here’s what you’ll need


  • Microfiber cloth or a soft duster
  • Small paintbrush
  • Vacuum
  • Warm water
  • Dish soap


Steps for cleaning wicker furniture


Dust or vacuum


Remove loose dust and dirt with a soft duster or dry cloth. You can also use the bristle attachment on your vacuum cleaner to remove dust.


Since wicker has lots of tiny crevices, you may want to use a small paintbrush to remove the remaining dust.


Wipe down with a damp rag


Get a clean rag damp with clean, warm water and wipe down the furniture to remove more set-in dirt.


Use a mild soap for dirty furniture


Grab some dish soap if your wicker furniture is looking especially dirty, or if it’s been spending a lot of time outdoors. Mix some warm water and dish soap in a bucket and get a rag damp – not wet. Wipe the furniture down and rinse the rag regularly to keep it clean.


For tougher stains, use an old toothbrush to scrub the spot clean.


Follow up with a damp cloth to remove any leftover soap.


Allow time to dry


Wicker can be left to air dry. Placing it in the sun or in front of a fan can speed up the drying process.