How To Clean Soot From Leather

29 May 2018
 Categories: , Blog


If your leather furniture survived a small fire or smoke damage, you will find it scorched and covered in soot. The porous surface, which also is made from collagen bands, allows soot and smoke smells to cling to the material. You may consider throwing it away, but it is possible to clean the soot by following these steps to clean the soot from leather furniture.

Prepare to Clean the Furniture

To clean soot from leather furniture, gather:

  • soft cloths
  • broom
  • vacuum with attachments
  • baking soda 
  • white vinegar
  • saddle soap 
  • leather conditioner

Suede furniture should be professionally cleaned since unfinished leather is prone to damage from chemicals. Soot is easier to clean when the piece has dried. If possible take the piece outdoors, and shake off as much soot as possible.

Sweep the sofa, or vacuum it with a flat-brush attachment working above the surface. Keep the vacuum attachment several inches from the leather. 

Apply Cleaner

Test all cleaning materials on a hidden area of the piece. Moisten a clot with water, and wipe the surface with plain water and a cloth. Never use too much water when cleaning leather.

Repeat the process by dabbing some saddle soap and water on a cloth until a small amount of suds form. If possible, leave the soap on the piece overnight or several hours. Saddle soap is made from gentle cleaning ingredients, such a lanolin, mild soaps, and softeners.

Carefully work the soap into the leather using a circular motion, rinsing the cloth as it gets dirty. Add more soap as needed to cover the piece. Use a clean damp rag to remove the residue, and dry the furniture away from sun or too much light using a cloth, or aim a fan at it. You may need to repeat the soap method several times.

Remove the Smell and Condition

Burned leather will commonly leave behind a smell. To combat the smell, combine a small amount of vinegar in a bowl of water or spray bottle. Vinegar is a natural acidic substance that won't damage the furniture. 

Rub or mist the vinegar on the piece working in circular motions. If the smell lingers, sprinkle baking soda on the surface, let it sit overnight, and vacuum. Repeat the process again, if it still smells.

After the piece dries, apply a thin layer of leather conditioner, since cleaning may dry the leather. Add another layer, if the piece still seems too dry. If you can't remove the smoke smell, get the piece steam-cleaned by a professional smoke damage restoration service.