I've just been advised by a furniture repairman to clean my leather reclining armchair as follows:

  • boil some water
  • let it cool down
  • wipe down the armrests and headrest with that water

Now, thinking back to my Chemistry 101, it seems to me like those first two steps are entirely superfluous. If you first boil water and then let it cool down again, all you've really accomplished is that you're left with slightly less water.

Is there any value to this advice? If so, why?

  • 1
    This question appears off-topic to me. At best you are asking why a life-hack works, but we've discussed this recently and we're not keen on those questions. I say "at best", because this might be standard practice for furniture repair men (i.e. not a hack at all). FWIW, I suspect it's done to kill bacteria before you introduce them into the leather, but that's a guess. Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 15:47
  • It is an advise question and does not ask for a hack. Commented Feb 7, 2015 at 4:28
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    @Duncan I could redit the question to be "How can I clean leather without chemicals" to which responses would be "Just use water" and whether or not said water should be boiled; or "Should I boil water before cleaning leather", but in the end we'd just be arguing semantics. If others agree that this is off-topic, flag it for a move to Chemistry I guess. It just seemed more appropriate for this site when I came up with the question.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Feb 7, 2015 at 12:03
  • I think it's so that you can make sure that the water is clean. ....IAE; I think the question, as currently worded, is off-topic. If you think you can edit it to make it more on-topic, then go for it!
    – Shokhet
    Commented Feb 8, 2015 at 4:42

1 Answer 1


If you live in a hard water area, there is some merit to boiling the water first. Boiling removes lime, which deposits inside the kettle as limescale; presumably water straight from the tap, still full of lime, may cause 'salt' marks to appear on the leather.

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