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How to Clean Leather

The renowned luxury of leather is undeniable. When it’s not clean, that luxury fades and the experience of using it is greatly diminished. Soiled leather becomes clogged with contaminants that damage the structure and compromise the coatings, eventually leading to dry, greasy, peeling and ripped leather. Leather care is something you want to get right. It’s a relatively expensive material when compared to man-made options and using the wrong approach can have swift or delayed and disastrous results.

First, What Not To Use

Skip the ’clever hacks’ and the ‘all-natural’ home-made recipes you find on the internet. They are ill-informed and the risks are real. We’ve seen beautiful Italian leather destroyed when toothpaste was used to remove mould – as suggested by an online blog. Also, give a wide birth to household cleaners. We’ve seen many sofas ruined – rips, flaking coatings and stripped colour – from the use of the wrong type of cleaner such as cream cleansers, cleaning wipes, oils and other unsuitable chemicals. Your leather deserves better than supermarket grade leather care and although the kit you purchased with the sofa from the furniture store may do no harm, it might not have much cleaning grunt.

Bring in the Professionals

If you clean and maintain your leather furniture once every 3 months or so using the right products and methods, you’ve got this. Put your feet up, it’s time to relax. If you don’t, you may need the help of a trained leather technician.

Companies that specialise in leather care and restoration are experts with unique skills and knowledge. They are best placed to provide the thorough, correct and results-driven services you need. All too often, we encounter customers who complain that they were disappointed with the results of their last service. When we ask if they used a dedicated leather care company, the answer is most typically ‘no’.

Our tip; stick with the people who can address colour and finish problems, identify the leather type and select the right cleaner and technique rather than the one-size-fits-all approach you might find elsewhere. The cost of a quick, cheap or incorrect service can prove expensive in the long run.

Customers also tell us that they weren’t sure what to do to maintain their leather lounge so they did nothing. There’s no doubt that DIY done wrong can be a source of regret. So, how do the pros clean leather?

Success lies in the use of the right products, accessories and method.

The Right Products

Good leather care involves 3 steps; cleaning, conditioning and a protective anti-soiling barrier often referred to as leather protection treatment


The ideal cleaner is strong enough to lift dirt yet mild enough to avoid damaging the coatings or the leather.

Leather cleaning needs to balance short term results against long term effects

A professional-grade pH neutral general maintenance leather cleaner is ideal for everyday cleaning. It should be formulated specifically for leather, water-based, non-sudsing, non-greasy, non-abrasive, non-toxic and easy to use. With regular use, a good cleaner controls soiling and makes light work of maintaining your leather.

There are a few products you’ll never see a professional use. Abrasive cleaners are close to the top of that list. Many people have turned to them in an emergency to make quick work of an ink or red wine stain – but with disastrous results. They not only cut through the stain but the manufacturer’s coatings as well. Harsh and drying, they inevitably lead to rips and tears. Oily cleaners can leave a greasy, dust-collecting finish and detergents require too much water to rinse. Essential oils and strong solvent cleaners can react with the coatings causing tackiness or can dissolve the finish completely.

For the structural health of your leather, a pH neutral solution is best. Other cleaners can leave leather dry or greasy leading to cracking, peeling, rips or rotting.

Pros Know Leather

As there are a few main types of leather in use today, there are leather care products tailored to their requirements. What works on a pigmented lounge may be unsuitable for a suede handbag so it’s important to consider the type of leather before selecting a cleaner and conditioner.

The wrong conditioner

Imagine the owner’s dismay to see these white marks appear as he applied a respected household name conditioner on a favourite leather jacket. The conditioner is perfect for boots but not appropriate for unfinished apparel leather. We extracted the wax and applied a conditioner designed for anilines.

The Right Accessories

To get a great result you may be surprised to learn that most professionals use a scrubbing brush and some microfibre cloths.

When it comes to leather cleaning, you want to strike a balance between using gear that makes light work of the job and not damaging your leather. Gentle is best.

Look for a bristle brush similar to a nail scrubbing brush or a standard domestic cleaning brush. The bristles should not be too hard or inflexible. A light circular motion is usually ideal for agitating the dirt from the grain.

An absorbent microfibre cloth is perfect for wiping away the dirt. After cleaning, especially if the leather was very soiled, your technician may rinse the cloth or use a fresh damp cloth to wipe over the surface to ‘rinse’ before applying the conditioner.

Some accessories are in the toolbox but it’s important to use them with discretion. For the most part, we avoid magic erazers as they are deceivingly abrasive. They can quickly cut through the clear topcoat which can rapidly advance the normal aging process. If recolouring, however, and there’s an ink stain to remove first, a magic erazer can help. For most pros, these effective white sponges would not be the go-to solution for marks unless they intend to replace the abraided coatings with new ones.

Similarly, when it comes to cleaning leather, kitchen scourers can be overkill – unless refinishing (recolouring) is in the plan. They are usually less abrasive than magic sponges and when new, tend to be more abrasive than a scrubbing brush. Using steam to clean a leather sofa can be risky. To much heat and water can cause irreversible damage. Whilst steam kills germs and can dislodge some soiling, nothing does as good or safe a job as hand detailing.

Nothing does as good or safe a job as hand detailing

Leather Care Accessory Pack 4 Piece - Leather Hero
Simple accessories get the job done

Technique: Scrubbing ‘v’ Rubbing

The leather care industry is unanimous in its advice: Do Not Rub! A standard bristle brush helps to gently agitate soiling from the grain of the leather. We start gently, watching for any unwanted change in the finish. Extra care is needed when working on vintage sofas such as Chesterfields. The coatings may be unstable and simple cleaning can remove colour and finish. On most leathers, moderate scrubbing is safe and effective. In contrast, rubbing with firm force using a cloth clad finger or fist can be far more abrasive.

A few seconds of determined rubbing to remove a mark can result in the finish being stripped and an unwanted ‘bald patch’

The mark is gone and so is the finish. This was done using a cream cleanser and rubbing


After cleaning, to prevent drying and stiffening the professionals apply a non-greasy, non-shiny, non-darkening breathable leather conditioner. A good conditioner is penetrating so that it can be absorbed into the fibrous structure where it lubricates and moisturises. With regular use, this helps to promote suppleness and softness.

For most apparel, furniture and car applications, conditioners that are heavy in beeswax or oil are less appropriate as they may clog the pores, attract vermin or rot the fibres. Rich, waxy products can be ideal for achieving a high shine on a pair of boots or for a waxed leather lounge but care is needed before applying them to anilines or pigmented leather. Nubuck, suede and aniline leathers are highly porous. A conditioner that is rich in waxes or oils may cause darkening or leave white waxy marks. Your leather professional carries a range of conditioners and can identify the right one for your leather.


The last step towards beautiful leather is an invisible, anti-soiling, breathable shield to help keep your leather clean for longer. Helping to protect the leather from the uptake of spills, grease, transferred dye and stains, it’s a smart inclusion if you want to make light work of maintaining your upholstery.

Do It Yourself

A professional service every couple of years ensures your furniture has the best chance of looking great over many years. In between those services, you can clean and maintain the look and feel using Leather Hero’s professional-grade Leather Care Kit. It has the gear you need to clean, condition and protect your car, boat, office and home furnishings. Best suited to pigmented or ‘painted’ leather, you can trust that it will get the job safely and beautifully.

The essential combo that makes leather look amazing and last longer

There are many leather finishes and qualities so regardless of the instructions on the pack, it’s important to test and observe how your leather responds before proceeding with a full service. With wear and tear, topcoats can wear very thin. If you think the original topcoat has eroded because the colour is wearing away, it’s time to replace it. Leather Hero Topcoat (No.7) is quick and easy to apply and is best used in conjunction with the rest of the refinishing system.

If you have unfinished leather, the Leather Hero Nubuck, Suede and Aniline Kit will take care of it. Designed to gently clean and nourish without changing the natural appearance of this special type of leather. Unfinished leathers stain easily. Keep this kit on hand to quickly address new spills before stains are formed.

Nubuck, Suede & Aniline Care Kit with accessories- Leather Hero
The right solution for Nubuck, Suede and Aniline leathers

Waxed pull-up style leathers are very popular. They offer relaxed sophistication and age gracefully, especially when maintained with a gentle leather cleaner and rich waxy conditioner such as Leather Hero’s Waxy Care Kit.

You can restore a luxurious vintage glow to waxed leather with this buffable conditioner

When It’s Time To Recolour

If you have decided to recolour your leather, a stronger cleaner is needed. Spot & Prep (No.4) by Leather Hero has the power to remove waxes, silicones, heavy soiling, marks and surface grease. A thoroughly clean and prepared surface is key to a lasting leather finish.

Leather Spot Remover & Surface Prep 1L - Leather Hero
Before colouring it’s important to prepare the surface correctly using Leather Hero’s Spot & Prep (No.4)

Out Damned Spot

Before selecting leather care products, it’s a good idea to know your leather type and the issue you want to resolve.


Pigmented leather
Surface soiling can be cleaned as shown in this half and half pic.

If the soiling and marks are on the surface of the leather or leather coatings, it’s dirty. This type of soiling cleans up well with a good leather cleaner such as Cleanse (No.1) or Spot & Prep (No.4) if you are recolouring.


Mould can be cleaned and it’s best to catch it early

If mould has grown on your leather, it is both on the surface and in the structure. Leather Hero’s Mould Remover (No.21) kills mould and mould spores and helps to prevent them from reforming. Free of bleach, chlorine, triclosan and peroxide, it is non-caustic and kills 99.9% of germs, including staphylococcus, e-coli and pseudomonas. If mould inhabits leather long enough, it can ‘eat’ into the coatings causing cloudy marks. This can also be corrected via recolouring.


Aniline leather
These stains are permanent. The lounge was recoloured to hide them.

If the mark has penetrated the structure of the leather or leather coatings, it’s stained. Most stains are permanent and can usually only be minimised with cleaning rather than completely removed. Stained areas can be restored via recolouring using a Leather Repair Kit.


Body and hair oil sinks into leather. It’s difficult to remove so prevention is key

If the leather has darkened with an oily appearance, it may be greasy with hair and body oil that has penetrated through the structure. This compromises both the strength and aesthetics of leather. Cleaning with Spot & Prep (No.4) by Leather Hero may remove grease from the surface but cannot fully reach the oils that are within the fibres. Recolouring is possible but the oils tend to resurface in time.

The Method


  1. Test each product in an inconspicuous place to test for compatibility. If the finish changes or transfers onto a cloth it is not stable and may be removed by cleaning. Unless recolouring is intended, it may be best not to proceed


  1. Vacuum any dust and particles
  2. Spray the cleaner directly onto the leather one small section at a time
  3. Working quickly and gently, agitate the cleaner into the grain using a scrubbing brush
  4. Wipe clean with a microfibre cloth. During cleaning, if the cloth becomes very wet or heavily soiled change to a fresh one
  5. Repeat until clean
  6. Wipe over the area with a dampened clean or rinsed microfibre cloth


  1. Apply a tablespoon-sized amount of conditioner to a just dampened microfibre cloth and squeeze to incorporate
  2. Wipe over the surface evenly and repeat until all areas have been treated


  1. Apply by spray to one section at a time
  2. Wipe over the surface evenly and repeat until all areas have been treated
  3. Buff if desired
Leather upholstery is an investment worthy care

How Often To Clean

Consider how often we wipe down our kitchen benches and wash our clothes… Imagine going a month without doing either. Lounges and car seats in regular use gather soiling, spills and ‘human grime’ at the same pace as everything else we use daily.

A 1-3 monthly maintenance clean is recommended or more often in high traffic environments.  The more regularly you wipe over your leather, the quicker the job. Light and regular is infinitely better for leather than harsh spring cleaning or worse still, the one in 5 or 10 years clean. It ensures your furniture is always a joy to use and looks good too.

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How To Restore A Black Leather Jacket

Some loyalties go on and on. If you have a faithful, beautiful, timeless, designer or knock-about black leather jacket that needs some love, here’s a step-by-step guide to restoring it. Scuffs, marks, fading and general surface wear are banished giving your favourite leather jacket a new lease on life.

Black Jacket Reviver (No.18)

This intense potion is a black restoring cream that coats leather with colour and finish. It boosts faded blacks, covers minor scratches and scuffs and leaves a protective coating. Easy to apply, fast-drying, sheer or nearly complete coverage, it’s ideal for replenishing and reintensifying your black leather apparel and accessories. Use it on your black leather jacket and handbags.

Black Jacket Reviver Kit - Leather Hero
Super simple. Just 2 steps to go from shabby to sharp



  1. Spray Cleanse (No.1) onto one area at a time
  2. If the leather is soiled, gently agitate the cleaner into the grain using a soft bristle or scourer – don’t rub. If the scourer seems too course, rub it on hard surface to flatten and soften the fibres
  3. Wipe clean with a cloth and allow to dry

Restore Colour

  1. Pour some Black Jacket Reviver on to an applicator sponge
  2. Using moderate pressure and even strokes, apply to one area at a time. Complete one side then flip the coat and do the reverse side
  3. Continue until all areas are coated
  4. Allow drying. You can use a hairdryer at 30cm to speed drying
  5. Apply additional coats as needed. One coat gives a sheer makeover, several coats give a complete colour refresh
  6. Clean up any metal parts using a cloth and some Cleanse (No.1)
  7. When dry, buff lightly using a microfibre cloth
  8. Allow 48 hours before conditioning the leather


  • Tape up the edge of the lining and metal parts with masking tape to avoid over-painting
  • Protect the workspace because Black Jacket Reviver carries a potent colour punch

Not Just Jackets

Jackets, handbags, footwear, belts and pretty much any black leather or vinyl accessories can be given a colour boost using Black Jacket Reviver (No.18).

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How to Clean & Condition Aniline Leather

Anilines are often considered the finest of all leathers. They are soft, supple, warm to touch and are naturally beautiful. Usually, full-grain, they are strong and display natural markings including pores, wrinkles and even, minor scars. With minimal or no coatings on the surface, they are also vulnerable to stains. Accidents can happen and normal use over time takes its toll. But with the right strategies, this leather can age very gracefully and with character.


With aniline leather, every bit of grime that hits the surface penetrates into the structure of the leather. Putting a few strategies in place to minimise spills and to catch everyday soiling can be the smart approach.

…you don’t want to wrap your designer couch in cling film just to avoid stains!

We know you don’t want to wrap your designer couch in cling film just to avoid stains – and, it’s entirely up to you to decide – but here are some ideas to consider:

  • Protect the headrests and armrests from the impact of hair and body oil using decorative throw rugs. Permanent greasy marks can develop when oils penetrate into the leather
  • During the day, lay down a sheet or throw rugs to catch the kids handiwork
  • Keep pens, textas, slime and nail polish as far away as possible – like, on another planet!
  • Make the sofa a no-food zone. Greasy hands and spills will leave permanent marks
  • Implement a ‘Shirts On’ rule. Bare skin = body oil and perspiration = stains
  • Place throw rugs strategically to protect the sofa during the day and remove them in the evening when the family have had showers and are nice and clean
  • Keep pets off the sofa but if you want them up there with you, consider placing a plush pet bed on the sofa for them use
  • Keep Leather Hero’s Nubuck, Suede and Aniline Cleanse (No.10) on hand to treat spills immediately
  • Maintain a regular schedule of maintenance that contributes some protective benefits
  • Unfriend everyone you know who drinks red wine, tea or coffee….kidding

OK, we know for most people, these ideas are a bit over the top but for those of you who want to do everything you can to protect your sofa, they are worth considering. These concepts apply equally to aniline leather handbags, footwear and apparel. When it comes to aniline furniture and apparel, beware dark denim. The dyes can transfer from your jeans to your jacket and once set-in, may not be removable.

When oil soaks into aniline leather, it’s difficult to remove

Regular Cleaning Beats Extreme Cleaning

More than any other type of leather, anilines will thank you for a regular maintenance schedule. A once a year special will not do much to nurture or clean your aniline leather. After a year of absorbing soiling, the damage is largely, done.

A 3 monthly service is recommended and, if you have a busy home, more often may be ideal. Service apparel and accessories at the beginning and end of the season and more often if they are in everyday use.

When cleaning is regular, it’s quick and easy to do. Integrate a lounge wipe over with a lightly dampened cloth into your regular cleaning schedule then, every 3 months or so, use the right products to give them a thorough service.



  1. Test each product in an inconspicuous place to assess compatibility with your leather. If there are any unwanted changes, do not proceed


  1. Vacuum any dust and particles
  2. Pour the cleaner onto a lightly dampened microfibre cloth or spray it directly onto the leather one section at a time. It will be absorbed quickly, so…
  3. Working quickly and gently, agitate the cleaner into the grain using a scrubbing brush
  4. Wipe clean with a microfibre cloth
  5. Repeat if needed


  1. Pour conditioner to a lightly dampened microfibre cloth and squeeze to incorporate
  2. Wipe over the surface evenly and repeat until all areas have been treated


  1. Pour onto a lightly dampened cloth or spray over one section at a time
  2. Working quickly, wipe over the surface evenly and repeat until all areas have been treated


  1. Repeat every 3 months or more frequently in busy environments
  2. Have products on hand to tackle accidental spills and marks


Aniline leathers are porous with an open fibrous structure. They easily absorb cleaners and conditioners. Avoid general purpose leather cleaners, homemade recipes and household cleaners. Instead, opt for one that is formulated for unfinished leathers.

Lether Hero’s Nubuck, Suede and Aniline Cleanse (No.10) is a mild, non-toxic, water-based, cleaner suitable for aniline leather. It gently removes dirt and is mild enough to avoid damaging the leather.

Most marks on aniline leather quickly become permanent stains. When cleaning, you won’t see them magically disappear. However, with regular cleaning, marks tend to soften in appearance, blending in a more aesthetically pleasing way over time.

The cleaner absorbs quickly and may not leave much soiling or residue on the cloth. This can be frustrating because you may feel that nothing is happening. But rest assured, this process helps to remove the soiling you can see and soiling you can’t see, thereby maintaining the health of your leather. With regular cleaning, marks or stains can soften over time.

Prada bag
Protect aniline leather designer accessories with regular care using products formulated for unfinished leathers

Accidents & Spills

Keep a suitable leather cleaner on hand for accidents and spills and treat them immediately. Use a blotting technique to draw the unwanted liquid or contaminant from the leather into the cleaning cloth.


  1. Pour some cleaner onto a lightly dampened microfibre cloth and fold it into a multi-layer square shape
  2. Using the palm of your hand, press and hold the cloth to the spill for a couple of seconds
  3. Repeat using a fresh part of the cloth

Strong Cleaner

Leather Hero’s Spot & Prep (No.4) is a strong cleaner than can be used with caution on unfinished leathers. As it is a strong cleaner, testing is important and it should not be used as a general-purpose cleaner. For accidents and spills, spot clean by blotting the mark a few times then allow the area to dry.

Ink Stick

Ink can be quite deadly on unfinished leathers. A large ink spill and markers are very difficult to remove but a pen mark may come out if treated immediately. Have an ink stick on hand so that you can take action as soon as the accident happens.


Avoid saturating the leather. Too much moisture can subtly change the structure of leather, leaving water-marks and stiffening. If your leather is prone to water-marks, finish with an outward sweeping technique to minimise the chance of a noticeable edge to the treated area.

Nubuck, Suede & Aniline kit without accessories - Leather Hero
Ideal for the regular care and maintenance of aniline, nubuck and suede leathers


Some leather conditioners can permanently darken aniline leather, making it look wet or greasy. Leather Hero’s Nubuck, Suede and Aniline Nourish (No.11) is light, penetrating and moisturising. It is formulated to nurture unfinished leathers without changing the natural appearance of the leather.

Leather Hero’s Nubuck, Suede and Aniline Nourish (No.11) has a light lotion consistency. It leaves the leather feeling beautiful to touch and won’t change the natural aesthetic characteristics of unprotected leathers.


The last step towards beautiful nubuck, suede and aniline leather is an invisible, anti-soiling, breathable shield that helps keep your leather clean for longer. Helping to protect the leather from the uptake of spills, grease, transferred dye and stains, it’s a smart inclusion if you want to make light work of maintaining your upholstery. It also contains a UV barrier that can help to reduce fading in bright environments. Again, test products for compatibility in an inconspicuous place before proceeding with a full service.

Test First

Always test products in an inconspicuous place before proceeding with a full service. There are many makers and treatments used in tanneries so it is prudent to ensure compatibility before using products.

What type of leather? semi-aniline - Leather Hero
There are many different leather treatments used in tanneries

Simple Accessories

To service your aniline leather, you’ll need a soft-bristle scrubbing brush, some microfibre cloths and a sponge. Nail brushes with flexible synthetic or pig-hair bristles are ideal for agitating dirt from the grain. Use a light circular motion with light to moderate pressure.

Semi-Aniline Leathers

Semi-aniline leathers can have light colour coatings and clear topcoats. As they are light coatings (meaning comparatively thin), they can be abraided easily. Avoid the use of harsh scrubbing, intense rubbing, kitchen scourers and magic sponges.

Semi- aniline leathers often have light colour and top-coatings. This is one we restored after years of fading, stains and coatings wear.

UV Light and Fading

In a sun-drenched room or beside a window, aniline leather furniture can fade quite dramatically. Unlike pigmented leathers, the beautiful aniline dyes used to colour the leather in the tannery tend to fade when exposed to sunlight. If possible, protect anilines from direct sunlight by installing blinds, window tinting or placing them away from windows.

Leather Hero’s Protect (No.3) contains a UV barrier. Use it every 3 months to slow the fading of aniline leathers.

Leather Protector 250ml - Leather Hero
Easy to apply, Protect (No.3) can help to prevent stains

Older Aniline Leather

If your lounge is older and the leather is dry, you may choose to use a richer conditioner. Waxy Nourish (No.9) is a more robust conditioner that leaves a noticeable waxy coating which can be buffed to a luxurious shine. The look has a pleasing vintage appeal. With multiple applications, anilines can take on a waxed leather look and feel.

This vintage lounge suite was treated with Waxy Nourish (No.9)
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How To Paint With Leather Paint

If you love making art, leather paints open up a world of possibilities. With these chroma rich paints, you can customise your leather and vinyl accessories to your heart’s content. Get creative, your imagination run free and make a statement with customised leather cushions, footwear and apparel.


The Leather Hero range of colours starts with 15 master colours. All other colours are blended from these shades. For artistic painting, you can use any colours within the Leather Hero range. However, these core colours make the ideal art set, enabling the creation of a universe of new colours.

Leather Hero Master Colours Chart

Getting Started

The Master Colour Set is a great place to start. The colour dots we mixed are just a few of the many possibilities that be created using black, white, ochre, blue and scarlet.

Master Colour Set 5 x 50ml - Leather Hero

These 5 core colours can be mixed to create many unique colours; from pastels to mid-tones to vibrant and dark tones, they offer a world of creative opportunity

Black, White, Ochre, Scarlet, Blue


Leather Hero paints are a liquid consistency. They are applied in layers. This means you can achieve a range of effects. With a single brushstroke, you can mark ethereal water-colour effects. With a few layers, a solid, opaque acrylic finish is achieved. Have a jar of water on hand to wash your brushes and dilute the paint as needed.

Low viscosity paint enables fine detailing

Customised Creations

When you are looking for a truly personalised gift, a custom designed, hand-painted leather or faux jacket really does fit the bill. Paint the sleeves and leave the back blank. Paint the back and make some small references on the front or decorate the entire jacket with random or repeated motifs. There really are no limits.

Making it personal

What do you give to a girl who lives by the sea and loves orcas and her Italian Greyhound equally? Answer: A custom painted leather jacket featuring them all.

On some scrap paper, we sketched the design, decided on a solid colour painting style and got the go-ahead from the client.

A truly personalised and unique jacket

Painting On Black Leather

Here’s how we completed a customised commissioned for our client. She wanted the magnolia motif to be simple and pretty so we suggested a single stem with a flower and buds.

The first step was to clean the leather thoroughly with Spot & Prep (No.4). The leather may have been coated or conditioned at the tannery or thereafter with products containing waxes, oils or silicones. It’s important to remove them before painting to optimise the bond between the leather and your artwork.

Soft bristle brushes enable smooth, flowing strokes
Speed up the drying process by using a hair dryer at 30cm from your artwork
Leather Spot Remover & Surface Prep 50ml - Leather Hero
Spray onto the leather one area at a time. Gently agitate the cleaner with a soft scrubbing brush and wipe clean with a microfibre cloth
Sketch your design using an erazable pencil
Paint the entire area of your design with white paint
Creating a white or light coloured base helps subsequent layers pop
In thin layers, add in the mid-tones, highlights and shadows to form your subject
Add in the details and you are done!
Paint your way using as much detail or expression as you like
A very happy client

Painting With Colour Restoration Cream

Colour Cream has lots of resins to create a rub-resistant, serviceable finish. Blended with leather paints, it produces beautiful colours and a smooth, glaze-like brush stroke, similar to a traditional painting medium. Due to the semi-transparent coverage of this product, working on a light coloured substrate is best.

Painted directly on a piece of crust (tanned and unfinished leather) using Colour Restoration Creams, this lovely image has a delicate, sheer aesthetic. It would make a unique floor cushion.

Working quickly and painting wet-in-wet allows for artistic blending. To build depth of colour and create multi-dimensional effects, allow your work to dry between each layer. Results with Colour Cream are soft and similar to water-colour or acrylic paints blended with lots of medium.

We love to see your works of art. Send them to us via or 0490 796 012

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How to Clean Suede & Nubuck Leather

Warm, velvety and natural, unprotected leathers are widely considered the most valuable and beautiful. They are also the most vulnerable to damage. Having said that, quality unfinished leathers can age gracefully, arguably better than pigmented leather that can delaminate and degrade in other ways after years of use. With aniline, nubuck and suede, the compromise is a patina of marks that, over time, blend to create a vintage appeal. Regular care and maintenance help to prolong the health of these leathers whilst softening the appearance of marks and minimising stains.

From Day 1

More than any other type of leather, it’s important to commence and maintain a regular regime of cleaning and conditioning from the day your new lounge or coat is delivered. When that first spill hits your leather, you will be glad you have a suitable cleaner on hand to immediately treat the affected area. You will also be pleased that you have conditioned the leather thereby providing a level of protection. Whilst there is no physical barrier to prevent spills from penetrating into the structure of the leather, regular conditioning adds some factors that may buy you some time as you race to soak up the spill before it enters the leather. Similarly, a leather protector, if suitable for your leather, can also create an invisible shield that helps to prevent stains and repels soiling.

What Not To Use

Due to the open and porous nature of leather and the lack of protective coatings on anilines, suedes and nubucks, the use of harsh cleaners can dry and damage the leather at the structural leather resulting in long term problems. Similarly, overly ‘rich’ conditioners can permanently darken the leather, making it look wet or greasy. Avoid the home-made recipes and so-called clever hacks you find on the internet. They are usually ill-informed and risky. Leather care has already been cleverly hacked by engineers and scientists who have, through decades (if not centuries) of research and development, created dedicated products that are safe and beneficial to leather. Also, avoid the use of household cleaners. They can cause irreversible damage that may show immediately or later on. Rips and stripped colour can result from the use of cream cleansers, cleaning wipes, oils and other unsuitable chemicals.

Bring in the Professionals

If you don’t get around to servicing your lounge regularly, call in a professional once a year. If an accident happens and you are not sure how to deal with it, contact a leather care and restoration expert for advice.

DIY Care

Good suede and nubuck leather care involves just a few steps; cleaning, conditioning and, if suitable a protective anti-soiling barrier often referred to as leather protection treatment.

How Often To Service Leather

Consider how often we wipe down our kitchen benches and wash our clothes… Imagine going a month without doing either. Lounges in regular use gather soiling, spills and ‘human grime’ at the same pace as everything else we use daily. A 3 monthly maintenance clean is recommended or more often in high traffic environments.  For apparel, a service at the beginning of the season and another one at the end of the season is recommended. The more regularly you wipe over your leather, the quicker the job. Light and regular is infinitely better for leather than harsh spring cleaning or worse still, the one in 5 or 10 years clean. It ensures your leather is always a joy to use and looks good too. Mark it on your calendar so that you don’t forget.

Regular servicing is the most effective.


The ideal cleaner gently lifts dirt and is mild enough to avoid damaging the leather.

Leather cleaning needs to balance short term results against long term effects

Leather Hero’s Nubuck, Suede and Aniline Cleanse (No.10) is a professional-grade general maintenance cleaner that is ideal for everyday maintenance. It’s formulated specifically for unprotected leathers, is water-based, non-sudsing, non-greasy, non-abrasive, non-toxic and easy to use. With regular use, it minimises marks and removes some of the soiling, body oil and perspiration that damages leather.

When it comes to unprotected leathers, you won’t see stains magically disappear when cleaning. Most often, soiling, spills and marks have penetrated, set-in and are permanent. However, with regular cleaning, marks tend to soften in appearance, blending in a more aesthetically pleasing way over time.

Besides improving the appearance of the leather, regular cleaning helps to minimise the harmful impact of body oil, hair oil and perspiration on leather. With long term exposure, unprotected leathers absorb these contaminants and are degraded at the structural level. They may become dry from perspiration or rot when soaked in oil.

Nubuck, Suede & Aniline kit without accessories - Leather Hero
Ideal for the regular care and maintenance of aniline, nubuck and suede leathers


For aniline, suede and nubuck leather that feels beautiful to touch and is nourished throughout, a light conditioner is best. Products containing the wrong types of waxes and oils can be too ‘rich’ for these leathers. They may clog the pores, look waxy, add unwanted shine, create a greasy appearance or permanently darken the leather.

Unlike a dense wax or thick cream-style conditioner, Leather Hero’s Nubuck, Suede and Aniline Nourish (No.11) is more like a lotion. Whilst a test spot is recommended to determine compatibility with your leather, it typically leaves a beautiful feel without changing the natural characteristics and physical appearance of unprotected leathers.

The Right Accessories

A suitable cleaner, a gentle scrubbing brush and some microfibre cloths are the all you need to clean unprotected leathers.

When it comes to leather cleaning, you want to strike a balance between using gear that makes light work of the job and not damaging your leather. Gentle is best.

For cleaning anilines, look for a bristle brush similar to a nail scrubbing brush with pig-hair bristles or a synthetic domestic cleaning brush. The bristles should not be too hard or inflexible. A light circular motion is usually ideal for agitating dirt from the grain.

Due to the absence of protective coatings, cleaners penetrate quickly. Spray across one area of the leather then, working quickly, use a lightly dampened microfibre cloth to work the cleaner into the leather, then wipe over the leather. You can also pour the cleaner directly onto the cloth.

Semi-aniline leathers can have light colour coatings or clear topcoats. As they are light coatings (meaning comparatively thin), they can be abraided easily. Avoid the use of harsh scrubbing, kitchen scourers and magic sponges. For all leather types, too much heat and water can cause irreversible damage. Whilst steam kills germs and can dislodge some soiling, it is very risky and is not recommended.

Nothing does as good or safe a job as hand detailing

Leather Care Accessory Pack 4 Piece - Leather Hero
Simple accessories get the job done

Test First

There are many leather finishes and qualities so regardless of the instructions on the pack, it’s important to test and observe how your leather responds before proceeding with a full service.


The last step towards beautiful nubuck, suede and aniline leather is an invisible, anti-soiling, breathable shield that helps keep your leather clean for longer. Helping to protect the leather from the uptake of spills, grease, transferred dye and stains, it’s a smart inclusion if you want to make light work of maintaining your upholstery. Again, test products for compatibility in an inconspicuous place before proceeding with a full service.

Leather Hero’s Protect (No.3) leaves a transparent barrier to spills and stains.

Leather Protector 250ml - Leather Hero
Easy to apply, Protect (No.3) can help to prevent stains

Brush The Nap

After cleaning, conditioning and protecting, brushing the surface can lift the nap revealing the soft, fuzzy feel of the leather. It can also greatly improve the look, hide marks and leave a lush, velvety finish. A synthetic or fine wire-bristle brush can be used. Brush the surface gently. If there are marks, go over these areas a few times, gradually increase the pressure whilst watching carefully for any unwanted changes.

The Method


  1. Test each product in an inconspicuous place to assess compatibility with your leather. If there are any unwanted changes, do not proceed


  1. Vacuum any dust and particles
  2. Pour the cleaner onto a lightly dampened microfibre cloth or spray it directly onto the leather one small section at a time. It will be absorbed quickly, so…
  3. Working quickly and gently, agitate the cleaner into the grain using a scrubbing brush
  4. Wipe clean with a microfibre cloth
  5. Repeat if needed


  1. Pour conditioner to a lightly dampened microfibre cloth and squeeze to incorporate
  2. Wipe over the surface evenly and repeat until all areas have been treated


  1. Pour onto a lightly dampened cloth or spray over one section at a time
  2. Working quickly, wipe over the surface evenly and repeat until all areas have been treated


  1. Brush all areas to lift the nap and render a luxurious, velvety feel. On upholstery, use a strong bristle brush and on apparel, use a soft bristle brush


  1. Repeat every 3 months
  2. Have products on hand to tackle accidental spills and marks
A heavily soiled nubuck lounge
Cleaned by hand using Leather Hero Nubuck, Suede & Aniline Cleanse & Nourish

Other Care Strategies

Over time, hair and body oil can create dark areas, usually on the backrest, headrest or armrest of the favourite seat of a lounge. We have even seen the shadow of a full human figure sitting on an aniline lounge – made of grease! True story.

So, whilst it’s entirely up to you to decide, the use of throw rugs can be part of a strategic plan to minimise the effects of oils on aniline leathers. They are removable and can be washed regularly, unlike you lounge. In the old days, our great grandmothers used antimacassars; decorative cloths that were put over the back of a chair to protect it from grease and dirt. A crocheted doily may not be your idea of style especially when paired with a sleek contemporary lounge, but a stylish throw rug can serve as the modern alternative.

If you want to share the lounge with your pets, place a pet bed on the lounge and train them to use it.

Antimacassars; decorative cloths that were put over the back of a chair to protect it from grease and dirt.
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How To Recolour A Leather Lounge

If the coatings on your pigmented (painted) lounge are looking tired, there are stains, scuffs and scratches or you’d like to recolour or change the colour, this guide will help you choose the right products for the job and step you through the refinishing process.

In A Nutshell

So, you are wondering how to recolour your lounge. Here is the express answer. Using pro-grade leather finishing products, follow these 4 steps:

  1. clean and prep the leather
  2. apply primer
  3. apply a few coats of leather colour
  4. seal with a leather topcoat

It’s that simple! With the right gear on hand, it’s an immensely satisfying DIY job that dramatically improves the appearance of your furniture and can help to extend its viable life.

In just a few hours and for a fraction of the cost of a new one, you can give your furniture a jaw-dropping makeover

slider recolour
These chairs faded from taupe to blotchy pale green.
Refinishing them in a lively shade of orange-tan gave them a whole new lease on life.

Surface soiling, stains, fading, scratches, peeling, wear and tear, greasy marks and delamination detract from the original good looks of any leather sofa. The good news is that many of these problems can be repaired or corrected. With a well-stocked Leather Repair Kit containing professional-grade products, you can replenish worn coatings, cover indelible stains, fill and smooth scratches and dramatically improve the look and appeal of your sofa.

What is leather ‘finishing’

‘Finishing’ refers to the coatings and treatments that are applied to the surface of the crust (tanned skin) to render the colours, touch, texture, sheen and effects you see. Leather goes through a number of steps such as pressing, tumbling, sanding, buffing, ironing, heating and embossing and is treated with coatings in addition to the colour, including base coats, primers, accent coats and topcoats. In the tannery they are applied by roller, spray and even hand-rubbed techniques.

Innovation and technology have seen leaders in the industry develop new, safe, clean and green products. Now you can use products that are the same or similar to those used by tanneries to restore your lounge.

A satisfying and lasting leather restoration happens when the tannery finishing process is replicated using pro-grade after-market products

Options, Products & Processes

There are different leather finishes, more than one way to refinish leather and a few factors to consider before buying restoration products. Exceptional DIY results can be achieved so let’s go through the major considerations, products and processes to help you arrive at the best possible result.


  • the application method you can use: ie, spray-gun ‘v’ hand application
  • the type of leather you have. This guide applies to pigmented (painted) leather
  • whether you want to keep the same colour or change to a new one
  • whether you want a light quick cosmetic make-over or a full refinish
  • whether there’s surface damage that needs to be repaired before recolouring
  • whether you can find a sample swatch for colour matching

Application Methods

One of the first considerations is your choice of application method. When it comes to recolouring a lounge, leather finishes can be applied by hand or sprayed on using an air compressor spray gun. Hand-rubbing is convenient and can render pleasing results. The big win here is that you won’t have to move your furniture. Spraying tends to produce the most refined results but generally requires the lounge to be moved to a suitable work-space to avoid potential issues with over-spray.

Most products can be sprayed or hand-rubbed. Some have been developed for hand application purposes only.

Leather Primer Yes Yes
Leather Paint Yes Yes
Leather Topcoat                                                 Yes Yes
Aniline Dye Stain Yes Yes
Colour Restoration Cream Yes No

Types of Leather

There are several main types of leather finishes typically used on furniture. When it comes to products and techniques for lounges, they can be grouped as follows:

  • Pigmented(painted) & Man-Made
  • Nubuck, Aniline, Semi-Aniline and Waxed (pull-up) – See our guide “How to restore an aniline leather lounge”

Not sure what type of leather you have? Check out “What Type of Leather”.

Same Colour ‘v’ New Colour

It is generally easier to refinish your lounge in the same colour. It tends to require fewer materials, take less time and less work in the hidden areas such as between cushions. That’s not to say that changing colours is not possible; it certainly is. So based on your leather type, here is a guideline regarding colour:

  • If your leather is pigmented or man-made, pick a colour – any colour. The world is your flamingo pink sofa!
  • If it is aniline, for most DIY situations, staying within a similar colour range or slightly darker is advisable

A Light Make-Over ‘v’ Full Refinishing

Both systems have merit. Colour Restoration Cream gives a very satisfying make-over. It contains leather dyes and/or pigments and resins. With semi-opaque coverage, you can apply 1 coat as a refresher or a few coats to build coverage. It is quick and easy to apply by hand and easy to touch-up as needed. Success lies in having a good colour match. This method is not suitable for covering most repairs or for changing colours. It is ideal for DIY restoration of aniline and waxed leathers because it doesn’t deliver full opaque coats of pigment (paint). It works equally well on pigmented leathers.

First, let’s look at the ‘light make-over’ option:

Great For:Not Great For:
Refreshing the existing colourChanging colours
Covering minor marks & surface wearFully covering repairs
Pigmented leatherFully covering heavy stains
Aniline and waxed leathers*Covering extensive wear and delamination
Quick, easy application and top-upsMaximum durability

Aniline and waxed leathers* For these leathers, a Dye Stain and Colour Restoration Kit is generally most suitable.

Now, let’s look at the ‘full refinishing’ option:

Full refinishing refers to the more extensive process of surface prep, priming, colouring and topcoating. This is an after-market replication of the finishing applied at the tannery. Coverage is complete so this system is perfect for covering repairs and stains and for colour changes. In high wear areas, it offers the most durable finish. Semi-aniline effects can be achieved. Quality Leather Repair Kits contain a full refinishing system that can be applied by hand or by spray gun.

Great For:Not Great For:
Changing colours or same colourQuick, easy application and top-ups (it’s easy but not as easy as Colour Cream)
Covering repairsAniline and waxed leathers**
Covering heavy stains
Covering extensive wear and delamination*
Maximum durability
Pigmented leathers

Covering extensive wear and delamination* When wear and tear are advanced, correct surface prep can improve the coverage and durability of coatings. As a general rule of thumb, the stronger the substrate the greater the durability (in conjunction with correct care and usage)

Aniline and waxed leathers** Can be used although full refinishing permanently changes aniline and waxed leather to pigmented finish. Semi-aniline effects can be created with pigments if desired.

Wear and tear happen over time. New coatings can dramatically improve the look and feel of your lounge

Need to Make Some Repairs?

If you are repairing, it is advisable to use a Leather Repair Kit rather than a Colour Restoration Kit. Leather filler is white and must be concealed under opaque colour.

Matching To A Sample

When it comes to colour, you will need a good match if:

If you want to change the colour, go for it. All you need is a Large Repair Kit in your choice of standard colour or you can mix your own.

Here’s some more information about finding a sample of your leather and how to custom mix a matching colour.

Where To Find Professional-Grade Products

In Australia, commercial-grade products are sold online by specialist leather finishing companies. They are not available through the major hardware retailers such as Bunnings or Mitre 10. Look for professional-grade, high-quality products. When comparing prices, be alert to the likelihood that cheaper products are diluted with water or other inexpensive filler components. Typically, cheaper paints and dyes are stripped-back formulations that lack the resins that give quality products advanced wear properties. What you spend on products will likely correlate to the results and longevity of your job.

A huge range of colours to match your job

Do I need a kit or just some dye?

It’s tempting to look at a marked and damaged leather lounge and think ‘I’ll just get some dye’. Firstly, you probably need some leather pigment or paint. Most furniture is coated with pigments. Terminology differs around the world but in Australia, paints are called pigments and aniline dyes are called dye or dye stain.

Unfortunately, the ‘just dye’ approach doesn’t end well. Without suitable surface prep, adhesion promoters and a hard-wearing topcoat, the coatings may wear more quickly. In high traffic areas, results might be short-lived and disappointing.

So, now you know the type of leather, the method of application you want to use and the type of finishing you want for your project. Let’s dive into the ‘How to’s’.

Pigmented and Man-made Leathers

Is your lounge a solid, block colour? Say, white, stone, red, blue or black? Is the finish like these pigmented lounges? Yes, then this info is for you.

To revamp the colour on your pigmented leather lounge, you have 2 options:

  • Full refinishing in any colour using a Large Repair Kit
  • Refreshing the existing colour using a Colour Restoration Kit


To recolour a pigmented leather lounge you will need a Large Repair Kit that includes a strong cleaner and surface prep, primer, paint, dulling agent and topcoat as well as the various accessories you need to complete the project. If there is surface damage such as scratches, scuffs and small tears, opt for a kit with leather filler and glue.

Large Leather Repair Kit - Leather Hero
A Large Repair Kit with accessories provides the materials you need to complete the job with ease

With pigmented leather, when it comes to colour, the choice is yours. You can go lighter or darker, for example, black over white or white over black. If you would like to recolour in the same colour, you will need to match the colour by tweaking the base colour using a Colour Adjustment Kit. Alternatively, some companies will mix the colour for you if you can provide a sample. See 7 Ways to Find A Colour Swatch

Colour adjustment Kit 3 x 50ml - Leather Hero
A Colour Adjustment Kit allows you to make adjustments to your base colour to achieve a perfect match

Steps to Recolour A Group 1 Leather Lounge Using Option 1

Step 1 : Protect Your Work Area

If you are applying the products by a hand-rubbed technique; ie, by sponge, in most cases, you can work on the lounge right where it sits. Be sure to put down drop-sheets, move nearby furnishing and move the lounge away from walls. It’s best to work in good natural light and ventilation.

If you wish to spray the lounge using an air-compressor and spray gun, move the lounge to a suitable work area. Tape or cover any components that you do not wish to colour.

Take a set of before pics. They make a satisfying comparison when you are done.

Step 2: Clean The Surface Thoroughly Using a Pro-Grade Surface Prep Solution

Success happens from the bottom up. Vacuum to remove grit and hair then put on some gloves and working in one area at a time, spray the deep cleaning leather prep solution onto the leather, scrub gently using a soft bristle brush and wipe clean with a microfibre cloth. The aim is to remove soiling as well as any oils, waxes and silicones from the surface. If not removed, adhesion problems may ensue. Avoid household cleaners and general-purpose leather cleaners to avoid damaging the leather and compromising your results.

Step 3: Sand the surface

Allow a few minutes drying time then sand the entire surface using sandpaper in 600-800 grit. The aim is to lightly smooth any roughness, open the pores and key the surface to maximise the bond between the old coatings and the new. You don’t need to remove the old coatings. Use a damp cloth to wipe away any loose particles. Note that vinyl and faux leather generally cannot be sanded so you can skip this step.

Step 4: Repair as needed

If your lounge doesn’t need any repairs, move on to Step 5.

Use leather glue to bond loose tags and re-join cut edges etc. Allow drying time then sand to smooth. If there are pits, scratches and cracks present, apply leather filler in thin layers to fill any surface imperfections. Allow drying between each layer. Once cured, use sandpaper to smooth the repaired area. This is the slowest stage of the project. Be patient as the results are worth it.

Often the tops of seat cushions are more heavily worn than other parts of the lounge. The leather may be delaminating, flaking and showing a heavy patina of surface wear. Leather Binder is a viscous, wipe on cream that fills minor pitting and surface irregularities whilst adding surface structure to weakened and strained leather. It dries quickly, can be texturized and sanded.  Applied in layers, it can radically improve the texture and finish of worn lounge seats. Leather Binder is sold separately as it’s not needed in every circumstance.

Step 5: Apply leather primer

At this point, surface prep is complete and you are ready to commence the colouring process. Primer is a clear coating that promotes adhesion thereby optimising the bond of the colour coats. It is easy to apply, dries quickly and is self-levelling. It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the handling of the products by starting on the back or sides. However, your main priority is the seat cushions and armrests so ensure you reserve ample product for the main areas. Apply primer to a sponge and wipe over the surface in long even strokes until all areas are coated. Allow drying. If your leather is quite porous, you may apply a second coat.

…Between the Cushions…

Leather finishing products are designed to stick, so they will stick if pressed together whilst drying. When finishing areas where leather touches leather; ie, between seat and backrest cushions, engage a helper to hold the cushions apart whilst painting then drying off with a hairdryer.

ink on sofa after

Step 6: Apply leather paint

Wearing gloves, shake the colour, then squeeze some leather paint onto a sponge. Apply to a small area at the back to get a feel for the product and how it handles on your leather then start on the front. Apply to one area at a time using long even strokes ensuring even coverage. Use moderate pressure to press the first coat into the grain and crevices. Wipe the colour into the seams then wipe again to remove any excess.

You can change the colour of your lounge

Don’t try to achieve a perfect finish with your first coat. Multiple thin coats give the best results. Dry each layer with a hairdryer or allow an hour or two drying time between coats. Some colours are more opaque than others so the number of coats needed can vary. If you are refreshing the original colour, fewer coats may be needed whilst a colour change may require more – 2 to 6 coats are typical.

A refined quality finish is achieved via multiple thin coats. The coverage shown here is incomplete. Another 2 coats were applied to achieve a completely even black finish

Step 7: Apply leather topcoat

Improving wear properties, 2 thin coats of topcoat finishes your project. Apply by sponge in long even strokes ensuring even coverage. Most furniture has a Satin finish. Note that Matte finish is best applied by spray if possible. If not, shake the bottle often whilst applying.

Well done! You have fully refinished your lounge.


If you’ve decided on a Colour Restoration Cream makeover, here’s how it’s done.

Leather Colour Restoration Kit - Leather Hero
Available in a range of kit sizes and configurations, there’s one for every job. This one is: Heavy Duty

Step 1 : Protect Your Work Area

See details above

Step 2: Clean The Surface Thoroughly

See details above

Step 3: Apply Colour Restoration Cream

Again, start at the back to get a feel for the way the product handles before moving onto the front of your lounge. Pour a generous amount of cream onto a sponge and wipe across the leather.

Pour the cream onto a sponge and wipe over the leather

Work into the grain, seams and crevices and finish with long even strokes or a cross-hatch pattern. Wipe excess from the seams and allow drying between layers. Work quickly and avoid disturbing the finish as it dries.

Colour resto small
Colours are lighter when wet and dryer darker

Coverage builds as you apply more layers. Often 1-2 coats are sufficient on the back and sides and a few coats on the high wear areas (seat cushions and armrests) can extend the life of your job.

Use firm pressure for the first coat. Maintain the integrity of the seams by wiping away any excess

And, you are done!

Congratulations! Now, How To Care For Your Handywork

Just like a pro, you have refinished your pigmented leather lounge. Allow 2 days drying before using the lounge again. The new coatings will be cured in 14 days and need careful care and handling during the curing stage. This process is a simplified, safe and user-friendly version of that used by tanneries. With good care and maintenance, it is capable of delivering lasting results. Keep pets off your lounge; their claws are like sandpaper to your leather coatings. Remove soiling, body and hair oils and perspiration regularly as they are the enemies of your lounge.

The feedback we’ve received from customers and DIYers says it all. Here are just a few samples:

“My wife REALLY loves me now”

” We’ve decide not to sell the house because the lounge looks so good in it”

“The couch looks absolutely incredible. I am lost for words. My son came home and said “Mum, what did you do?” I said “I found Leather Hero”

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How to get a sample of your colour

If you’d like to have your colour custom mixed by us, we’ll need a sample to match to. Here are some ways to find a colour sample.

The ideal sample size

The ideal sample is 15cm x 15cm but we know that’s not always possible. It should, however, be no smaller than 5cm x 5cm. It doesn’t have to be a square but we do need an area to test the colour as we mix. If your sample is very small, call us to discuss before proceeding with an order.

Old leather, new leather

Aged leather upholstery can display more than one colour due to UV fading, stains and wear. Unused areas usually reflect the original colour. They may no longer match high traffic areas such as seat cushions which have been extensively used.  Where possible, try to obtain a representative sample that matches the main areas of your project.

8 Ways to find a sample

Ask the Manufacturer or Retailer

Call the maker or drop into the store and ask if they can supply a colour swatch. Some may have samples they can post to you or allow you to borrow.

Snip a piece from the underside

If you want to work on a piece of furniture and need a colour sample, turn it onto its side and remove a few staples from the dust cover at the base. Look under the dust cover to see if there is a margin of leather to the inside of the staples. If there is, carefully snip the largest possible section then restaple the dust cover back into position. Also, check inside zippered cushions for a seam allowance from which you can harvest a piece.

A matching Dulux colour

From the enormous range of Dulux colours, look for the one that matches your leather colour. Email the name of the colour (and the code if you have it). If you find the colour you need in another brand, send us 3 swatches in the post.

A detachable component

You can’t send us a sofa in the post but you can send a cushion cover or a detachable headrest or footrest. In cars, look for plastic parts that are the same colour as the leather seats or consider sending the headrest. Also, check under the seats for excess material from which to cut a sample. Although it is rare for parcels to be lost, we strongly recommend you fully insure your shipment for replacement value.

Buy a scatter cushion

If your colour is still current, you may be able to purchase a scatter cushion from the retailer. This will give you a new sample of the colour that you can post to us for matching. It also gets you a new scatter cushion!

The sample provided with your receipt

Often, retailers provide a leather swatch when you make your purchase. Find your original receipt and you may just find the sample. Alternatively, samples are sometimes stitched into the lounge under the seat cushions. If the cushions are loose, lift them to see if there’s a sample hiding there.

Ask a leather merchant

In most major cities there are leather merchants and wholesalers that supply leather to trades and consumers for upholstery, craft, shoe-making, accessories and a myriad of other purposes. It may be worth running your colour specifications by them to see if they can provide you with a useful off-cut.

Emailed photos are not as reliable

It would be wonderful if photos provided reliably accurate colour representation but they don’t. Colours can change depending on light, exposure, saturation and other factors. Computer screens can also greatly distort colour. We do mix colours from photos in situations where there’s no alternative. Accuracy cannot be guaranteed with this method.

HEX colours

If you know the HEX code for your colour, that can help. With this method we can get a close match to your colour but it may not be perfect.

Make life easy for yourself

There are circumstances when a close colour will suffice. Sometimes, the smart money is on recolouring the whole sofa or car seat, rather than attempting a small touch-up. When you recolour in full, you can change the colour all together. If the colour was matched from a photo and isn’t completely accurate, it’s unlikely to matter if you recolour the entire surface. As professionals, we often restore the entire piece. It always gives the most cohesive and complete result.

Each job is different. Our best tip is to consider the priorities of your job.

  • If you need colour accuracy, find a sample
  • If you want the most cohesive result, give the entire surface a makeover
  • If you can be flexible in terms of colour, send us a photo and we’ll send you a colour that’s similar

OEM colour codes cannot be used

Unfortunately, OEM codes, manufacturer colour names and serial numbers are of no use as there’s no comprehensive database of cross-referenced colour ‘recipes’ available. There are many makers of leather finishing products, many tanneries and many techniques used to create leather. Each maker uses its own materials and formulations. There are literally millions of different colours in use, currently and historically, across the various industries using leather.

Leather Hero after-market colourants are universal and each colour is mixed from a base range of 15 colours. With a sample in hand, we can match most colours.

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The Difference Between Leather Dye, Paint and Stain

There’s not one leather nor one leather finish. Like all industries, the world of leather has its own vocabulary and terminology. Sometimes those terms become incorrectly homogenised in the marketplace. When it comes shopping for DIY products, there’s one common misnomer to understand and avoid.

The word ‘dye’ is often incorrectly used as a catch-all for leather colourants and methods of all types. In fact, dyes are one type of colourant with specific application methods and they are suitable for some but not all leather types. For example, you would rarely use dye on car seats; you would use paints, otherwise known as ‘pigments’.  Paints/pigments are often falsely marketed as dyes and that’s not really a big deal so long as you end up with the right product for your job.

When it comes to repairing, restoration and recolouring, great results start with the correct products and techniques for the particular leather type. Dyes, stains and paints, pigments, colour restoration creams and vinyl finishes are just some of the options.

Beautiful waxed leather

Dyes and Stains

Dye, also referred to as aniline dye, is the concentrated form whilst stain is the ready-to-use version of dye. When it comes to upholstery leather restoration, stains are most commonly used as dyes are, in most cases, too intensely coloured for restoration purposes. Both penetrate the fibrous structure of leather making a chemical bond. Once dyed, leather cannot be un-dyed. Dying makes the leather darker in colour and cannot be used to make it lighter. In some instances, dye transference is a possibility unless sealed with a topcoat.

Aesthetically, dyes and stains add translucent colour that allows the natural characteristics of the leather to show. As dye goes into leather, it adds no surface coating. This allows the luxurious warm feel or ‘hand’ to remain unchanged.

Leather Stain is translucent and cannot fully cover stains
Leather Paint is opaque and can be mixed to create endless colour options

Dyes are not highly UV stable and are, therefore, prone to fading. Where possible, protecting dyed leather from direct light helps to slow this process. Leather Hero’s Protect (No.3) contains a UV barrier that helps to minimise fading.

Dyed leather can be ‘unfinished’ meaning that it has no surface coating. Semi-aniline leathers are lightly coated with pigments and/or polyurethane topcoats. Nubuck and suede are also unfinished leathers with a slight nap that gives a velvety soft plush feel. Unfinished leathers are drum-dyed during the tanning process. They are soaked and tumbled in large vats of aniline dye. As a result, the dye penetrates right through the fibres. If the rear side of your leather is the same colour as the top side, it is likely, dyed.

Paints or Pigments

‘Pigment’ is the industry term for leather paint. Pigment does not penetrate, but rather remains on the surface and forms a physical bond. It has an opaque finish which makes it useful for covering imperfections, stains and discolouration.

Pigments tend to be UV stable which makes them preferable for use in cars and in sun-drenched homes. The addition of layers of acrylic coatings lends protection to leather. Most soiling and marks can easily be cleaned and permanent stains can be visually eliminated via recolouring.

Pigments can be applied in a variety of ways to produce different finishes. The most common finish is one solid colour; think of a white or stone coloured sofa or light pink handbag. By layering an accent colour over a base colour, antique and faux-aniline effects can be achieved.

The purple paint on this car seat was mostly removed by cleaning
The area was refinished with leather paint to cover the remaining stains

Leather Paint Colours

Leather paints are acrylic-based coatings created specifically for application on leather and man-made imitation leather. They are formulated to be flexible, hard-wearing and to resist peeling and cracking. Mixable, water-based and non-toxic, professional leather paints are chroma rich and designed to produce a refined factory finish.

Colour options are endless. That’s why Leather Hero offers an extensive range of pre-mixed and popular furniture and car colours as well as a core range of master colours.


Dyes and stains cannot be used on vinyl (unless blended with pigments). The upper layer of this man-made material is essentially plastic. It can be refinished with vinyl or leather paint. As it is less porous than leather, the physical bond may not be as enduring as it is with leather. Vinyl paint is applied by spray whilst leather paint may be sprayed or hand-rubbed.

This motor yacht captains seat is difficult to remove so on-board restoration with leather pigments offered the ideal solution


How are dyes and stains applied?

Dyes and stains can be applied by sponge, dauber, cloth, brush or spray gun

How are leather paints applied?

Leather paints can be applied by sponge, brush or spray gun

Can leather paints and leather dyes be mixed?

Yes. A small percentage of leather dye mixed into leather paint produces a paint that gives a semi-aniline effect

Are most cars seats dyed or pigmented?

Most cars seats are finished with leather pigments/paints – not dyes or stains

Are all brown sofas aniline or semi-aniline?

No. Lots of tan and brown coloured sofas are aniline or semi-aniline but many are painted. Shades of stone, caramel, putty and chocolate tend to be pigmented

Do dyes and stains only come in shades of brown?

No, they are also available in a variety of of other colours such as blue, green, red, yellow and ochre. They can be mixed to create unique colours such as oxblood and olive

Can leather paint and dye be used creatively to make art and design?

Yes! You can let your imagination go wild and use leather dyes and paints to embellish leather apparel, footwear and many other leather and vinyl items

Get creative!

If you can paint it on paper or canvas, you can paint it on leather using pro-grade leather paints. Imagine a truly bespoke hand-painted leather jacket or customised trainers, a decorated purse or even a set of vintage industrial bar stools creatively embellished. The only limit is your imagination.

Know your leather

Before starting a repair or restoration project, it’s important to know what type of leather you have. Common types include aniline, semi-aniline, nubuck, suede, pigmented or vinyl. Using the right type of colourant and finish is critical to achieving a satisfying result.

Leather Hero dyes, stains and paints are safe, easy to use and with correct application and aftercare, they offer lasting results.

Need help?

If you are looking for a leather product and need help, Contact Us.

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The Gladstone Bag; a vintage leather luggage classic overnight bag

The Gladstone Bag a vintage leather luggage classic overnight bag1 – Leather Hero

Looking for some leather luggage oozing vintage swag? The Gladstone Bag is experiencing a revival as fashionistas and vintage leather lovers everywhere celebrate the iconic design. Gladstone bags make the perfect overnight bag.

The namesake

The Gladstone Bag was created in the mid-19th century by J. G. Beard, a London leather dealer, who named it after William Ewart Gladstone, the British Prime Minister of the time. Usually made of very strong leather, the Gladstone bag was a type of suitcase. Built on a rigid frame, with a large heavy base, the original design opened wide into two sections and was tied with leather lanyards to keep it closed.

 William Ewart Gladstone

William Ewart Gladstone was elected Conservative Member of Parliament for Newark-on-Trent in 1832. He came to serve four terms as Prime Minister of Great Britain and was known for his love of travel. Very much a keen admirer and supporter, Beard name his invention after William Gladstone. Believed to have been based on a French design, these bags gained popularity around the world with makers developing design variations to suit an array of traveller demands and the requirements of the many diverse professions that adopted them.

The first Gladstones

Like all design icons, the ever popular Gladstone Bag delivers in both form and function. Opening widely from the top with hinges that locked open, professionals and travellers alike appreciated the continuous and unhindered access to the content within. The heavy base gave the bag stability which prevented it tumbling over and the contents spilling or being damaged.  This meant that the Gladstone design was readily adopted by doctors (and later nurses), who would conduct home visits with a portable stash of medicinals neatly packed in the bags.  Later a ‘surgeons bag’ was developed. It included draws that acted like pull out trays and enabled drugs, dressings and instruments to be carefully compartmentalised.

Before the camera was invented Gladstone Bags were advertised in catalogues

Originally taken up by wealthy professional men such as businessmen, doctors, lawyers and politicians, the Gladstone Bag was later used broadly by men of varying trades; at first to carry their tools and later to carry their lunch as well. By the 1950’s the mission brown Gladstone Bag was familiar to almost every household in Australia as it carried Dad’s ‘crib’ (lunch), fishing tackle, tools, papers and just about everything else.

In Victorian times, gentile folk would travel with carpet bags and Gladstones. Then, as they are now, Gladstone Bags were considered high fashion and a statement of refined style. Referring to the Gladstone in the iconic 1891 book and film The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wild says ‘What a way for a fashionable painter to travel.  A Gladstone bag and an Ulster’.

Gladstone Bag advertisement

A safe place

In 1912, as the Titanic began to sink, it is believed that staff on board the ill-fated ship, stuffed Gladstone bags with precious jewels, valuables and cash from the safe deposit boxes of their wealthy passengers.  It’s thought that their intention was to prevent the valuables from spreading across the ocean floor by keeping them contained in the bags. Most likely, the ship’s pursers probably planned to return the precious cargo to their owner once safely back in New York. Although, sadly that did not eventuate, to a certain extent, their plan worked. The tanning methods of the time rendered leather resistant to the ravages of the oceans microorganisms. Those artefacts later recovered from within the Gladstone Bags that had rested on the ocean floor for decades, were found to be in relatively good condition.

The perfect holdall, the Gladstone Bag serves a group of knitters.

Good design never fades

In 1973, the Metta Catharina von Flensburg, a Danish brigantine that sank in Plymouth Sound in 1786 was salvaged. A cache of Russian reindeer hides was recovered. These hides are now exclusively for the use of GJ Cleverley who makes the finest shoes and bags, including a signature piece; a Gladstone Bag with a racing green goatskin lining which retails for £4,500 – no less!


Made to stand the test of time.

Gladstone Bags continue to be a favourite amongst today’s medical and legal professionals. Made new by leather luggage and fashion houses around the world, the design perpetuates for its style, function, tradition and nostalgia. Nowadays, the Gladstone Bag is no longer exclusively for men. It is highly sought after by women who appreciate the iconic style of this supremely collectable fashion accessory and find great purpose for this wide-mouthed bag. No longer unusual to see a woman with a Gladstone Bag on her arm, these bags have been reclaimed and repurposed as the ultimate feminine town and country accessory.

Setting the scene

These sturdy hand built bags have had a long career in movies that continues to this day. They conjure such warm feelings of style, industry and nostalgia that they have featured in countless movies. Somehow, they communicate the capable and purposeful intent of the carrier. It’s no doubt the long, professional career of the Gladstone Bag, and the many exquisitely important documents, decrees, papers, instruments, love letters and precious treasures they have reliably transported, that makes them such an aspirational possession for our time.

Alligator print leather Gladstone Bag

These famous bags, although predominantly cowhide, were embossed with the textured markings of a variety of exotic creatures from alligator to walrus

Gladstone Bags from Leather Hero

Today, Gladstone Bags lend their vintage chic to home interiors, retail spaces, film and television sets as well as being used as functional handbags, toolkits and travel luggage. The interior lining is often worn and sometimes stained or ripped. For most enthusiasts, given the prohibitive cost of relining, the condition of the interior is secondary to the design credentials and beauty of the outer leather shell. At Leather Hero, our focus is on getting the best out of the leather. We clean, sometimes recolour, tint, condition and topcoat our Gladstone Bags. In most cases, we leave the interior untouched, partly because we find interesting historical titbits like the names and addresses of previous owners written there. We prefer to preserve those little tokens of history so that the bag goes on to tell it’s enduring tale well into the future.

If you have knowledge or a story about Gladstone Bags, please share it with us. You are welcome to make a purchase enquiry at any time. Contact us for images, dimensions and a description of the operating functionality of the bags we have in stock.

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Caring for Leather; If You Want Beautiful Leather, Do This

Caring For Your Leather - Leather Hero

This is it in a nutshell… well 11 nutshells. When it comes to caring for leather upholstery, these are the golden rules. Whether you have invested in leather furniture, a leather boat lounge, leather car seats or apparel, these essential guidelines show you how to get the best out of your investment.

Loyal, long-wearing leather is a robust and luxurious material; a premium choice owned for a premium price. It’s best to remember that whilst it is low-maintenance, it’s definitely not no-maintenance. Here are our tips for enjoying beautiful leather upholstery that lasts:

First-Aid for Leather 

  • Usually, a spill isn’t a stain until it has time to set in. Have the right products on hand for when accidents happen and you can forget it ever happened.
  • If the kids get creative with pens and textas, remove their masterpieces right away. The longer their artwork is displayed the more permanent it becomes. If that’s the case, remove the available pigments from the stain and recolour the area with a leather repair kit 

Keeping it Real When it Comes to Caring for Leather

  • Household products are a No-No. It simply isn’t worth the complications down the track so stick to leather care products and don’t be duped into using potentially damaging substitutes.
  • A light wipe over every 3 months is easy work. Leave it for a few years and the grime will have settled deep in the grain and will be much more difficult to remove.  A light clean every 3 to 6 months will keep your leather looking beautiful and in fine condition.
  • A light condition every three months helps to keep the luxury in your leather. Don’t overdo it, just do it regularly.
  • Science and nature have something to help you care for your leather. A good leather protector offers a wipe-on, breathable protective shield that improves cleanability, resists stains and blocks UV. Use it from Day 1 when your leather is in showroom condition and enjoy that lush new leather feeling for much longer.

Managing environmental factors

  • UV is no friend of leather. It quickly dries out the inner fibres and leaves your upholstery brittle and very ready to tear.

Caring for leather
When it comes to caring for leather, misinformation and mysteries abound. Stick to these 11 truths to ensure that leather upholstery stays beautiful for longer. 

  • Air vents and heaters can silently evaporate the moisture balance from your leather leaving it parched and brittle. Take care to place them apart.
  • High humidity, rising damp or storing leather whilst still damp can create the perfect environment for mould spores to flourish. Good natural airflow and complete drying will help to prevent mould and mildew.

Call in the Leather Professionals

  • The oldie truism says it all; “A stitch in time saves nine”. Small rips only grow bigger. Our tip? repair or have them repaired before they deteriorate.
  • For some, a yearly service is too much, for others, it’s very much needed. Some sofas work day and night, others are seldom used showpieces. Some homes have pets or children, some recliners are occupied every day, some sofas are in busy hotel foyers and others are in a spare room that’s only inhabited by guests at Christmas. The same goes for car and boat seats and lounges. Whatever the usage, if you don’t get around to a 3 monthly once-over, have your leather professional do it for you.

In conclusion, neglected leather is unpleasant to live with and tends to perish early. Well maintained leather, on the other hand, lasts around 3 times longer. And while it does that, it looks and feels beautiful.