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 protectoroffers 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.
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.
Let’s look at the main types of leather used in furniture upholstery and their key features. When it comes to caring for upholstery leathers, it’s important to know what type of leather you have before selecting your leather care products. That’s because each finish tolerates and benefits from different cleaners, conditioners and colourants. Using the wrong product may expose your leather to the risk of damage, unwanted changes or provide less than optimal results. So, how can you find out what leather you have when your memories and receipt have faded? There are a couple of quick checks you can make to unearth the missing information.
Look for a product tag. Check theunderside of the sofa, the lower backrest seam or the bottom of a cushion for a descriptive tag. If you are in luck, it may list the type of leather and your search is over.
Search online for the same model. If you know the manufacturer, brand and model and it’s still in production, you may be able to verify the leather type via an online search. If you only know the store, they may also be able to help.
Types of Leather
In the absence of an informative label, identifying one leather from another requires a process of elimination. Although there are countless leather and leather finishing variants in use around the world, when it comes to upholstery leather, most fit into 1 of 5 main types:
Aniline and Semi-aniline
Nubuck and Suede
Waxed or Pull-up
Each type of leather has broadly typical characteristics. Use this quiz to help identify your leather.
If fingernail scratches leave a mark and water absorbs quickly...
Your leather may be ANILINE or SEMI-ANILINE
Aniline & semi-aniline
Aniline leather is “unfinished”. With little or no protection from topcoat layers, it tends to show scratches and absorb water quickly. Aniline leather is usually drum dyed. The colour passes right through the hide from the front to back. Popular shades include tan, brown and mahogany. Luxuriously soft and warm to touch, anilines may display naturally irregular grain, blemishes, wrinkles and creases. Semi-aniline leathers are a more practical version of this premium leather type. They are semi-protected by light layers of colour and topcoats which lend serviceability. Use Leather Hero’s Nubuck, Suede & Aniline Care Kit to keep you aniline upholstery looking its best.
If it is water resistant and the finish is a solid opaque colour or painted effect...
Your leather may be PIGMENTED
Pigmented leather is the most common leather type found in family homes and cars today. If your sofa is opaque monochromatic red, black, blue, white, stone, chocolate or any other solid colour, it is more than likely, upholstered in pigmented leather. This practical material is finished with layers of protective colour and topcoats that lend a degree of water and stain resistance. In addition, manufacturers use transparent pigments and dyes to create special painted finishes such as antiquing. The Leather Hero Leather Care Kit is ideal for maintaining pigmented leather.
If it's water resistant and the finish is a solid opaque colour or painted effect...
Your leather may be PIGMENTED
If it has a nap or pile and it's warm and velvety to touch...
Your leather may be NUBUCK or SUEDE
Nubuck & suede
These leathers are relatively easy to distinguish as a result of their luxurious plush hand (feel under touch). Nubuck and suede are ‘unfinished’ or ‘unprotected’ types of leather. This means that they have no barrier to soiling, spills and stains. Often made in soft warm whites through to rich tans and browns, these leathers require specific care to maintain their beauty. Choose from Leather Hero’s range of Nubuck, Suede & Aniline leather care products to make your leather look great and last longer.
If it's water resistant and the finish has a burnished patina of creases and cracks that give a distressed look...
Your leather may be WAXED or PULL-UP
Waxed or pull-up
During the finishing and upholstery processes, a tapestry of light coloured fault lines forms on Pull-up leather. These beautiful random striations add character and appeal. Waxed leather tends to be water resistant and often comes in the ‘natural’ earth tones of tan and brown. If you have a waxed leather sofa the Leather Hero Waxed Leather Care Kit contains your must-have leather care products.
If the underside is woven and /or it smells like plastic and/or the pores are in a regular pattern...
Your leather may be MAN-MADE
Bonded, split, PU, faux and vinyl are man-made materials. Although they are not technically types of leather, they are commonly used in upholstery and often referred to as ‘leather’. Bonded and split leather both contain some leather components but are heavily processed to render a viable product. In fact, leather may be a minor ingredient in the final product. The other ‘leathers’ are synthetic versions that mimic the real thing. Manufactured from plastics and fabrics, sometimes the underside looks woven, other times not. Smell is usually a good differentiator as are unnaturally regular pores. The Leather Hero Leather Care Kit is perfect for keeping these materials clean, soft and protected from soiling and stains.
Choosing Leather Care Products
What’s good for one type of leather may not be good for the next. There is a myriad of leather finishes and each has unique needs. It’s tempting to always go for the strongest leather care product to make light work of the task. Consider this; a waxy polish might be ideal for waxed leather whilst creating unwelcome changes on suede leather. A far better choice is to use leather care products that are developed for each type of leather. This minimises the risk of damage and ensure that you achieve the best possible results. No matter what type of leather you have, remember that you want excellent short-term and long-term results.Avoid home-made and cheap leather care products. Stick with professional grade solutions and give your leather upholstery the care it needs.
Your leather upholstery doesn’t need much from you but it will respond generously to the right care. You can easily choose the right product for your job now that you are armed with the right information about the types of leather most commonly used in furniture upholstery today.
A great leather jacket is a beautiful thing. Whether a snug little crop bomber, a studded, zippered biker, a billowing trench or demi-cape, a leather coat is an investment that exudes an edgy ‘born to be wild’ attitude. From a practical standpoint, leather jackets are insulating and flexible with the ability to mould to the shape of their owner. Improving with age, a well-worn leather jacket hugs you like a faithful old friend.
What is it about leather jackets?
Leather has been worn since prehistoric times and each civilisation since as crafted new forms, functions and styles from it. In the early 1900’s leather jackets were adopted by European armies for their rugged strength and warmth. Half a century later, the leather jacket had moved to Hollywood where leading men such as Garry Cooper and Jimmy Stewart somehow imbued the garment with aspirational iconic cool. Over the course of the next 50 years, it was adopted as the garb of pop and subcultures like greasers, punks, rock stars and bikers. Its once bad boy reputation has softened but not entirely disappeared. Retaining some of its dangerous edge, the leather jacket remains universally appealing as a style statement and treasured wardrobe must-have. Worn by royals, mums, divas and superstars, the never boring leather jacket is a luxury garment, designed in a multitude of colours, finishes, cuts and man-made versions.
You may know how to rock a leather jacket but do you know how to care for it? This wardrobe hero has the potential to journey through the decade with you. Let’s look at what it needs to go the distance.
Wearing your leather jacket
Unlike other materials, leather has pores through which it soaks in its environment as it ‘breathes’. Taking in fresh air it is able to top up expelled moisture and release the unwelcome effects of smells, smoke, rain and pollution. When wearing your leather jacket, try to avoid contact with abrasive surfaces that could scratch through protective coatings, erode pigments or wear the surface of your leather jacket. If you and your beloved jacket get caught in the rain, it’s not the end of the world. Remove as much water as you can by dabbing it with a clean dry cloth then hang it up to dry naturally in an airy location. Don’t force dry it or you could end up with a stiff corpse that may never return to its former glory.
Cleaning your leather jacket
Cleaning your leather jacket isn’t a maybe, it’s a must. Remove the surface grime you can and can’t see with a good leather cleaner. Dust, mould, body acids, oils and dirt can settle in the tiny pores in the surface of the leather. If left to build up, these contaminants clog the pores and break down the structure of your leather. Thinning, rips, holes and delamination follow and your much-loved jacket is on its way out.
Remember that spills can become permanent stains so remove them quickly. Specialist products like the Leather Hero Ink Stick (No.17) are invaluable when your pen does the unthinkable and leaves an eye-catching blue squiggle right across the chest area of your white leather jacket! A light 3 monthly clean is preferable to waiting until your beloved jacket is choking on built-up grime that only harsh scrubbing will remove.
Conditioning your leather jacket
A goodleather conditioner contains lubricants that penetrate and nourish your leather with moisture. Over time and in dry environments your leathers natural lubricants break down and dissipate. Under the surface, it’s made up of a myriad of fibres knitted together by protein bonds. If these fibres are allowed to become parched, brittle and dry, they start to rub together, abrade one another and eventually, they disintegrate. That’s why conditioning your leather jacket with a good leather conditioner is so important to keep your leather jacket supple.
Protecting your leather jacket
‘’Protection? Is my jacket under attack?’’ I hear you ask. The answer is ‘’yes, it’s under attack’’. Remember all of those icky human oils, dirt, mould and grime? A protector with anti-soiling properties helps to prevent dirt from sticking, water from absorbing, UV from drying and stains from penetrating. A good protector is like an ‘insurance policy’ that improves the cleanability and stain resistance of your leather. A specialist protector like Leather Hero Protect (No.2) forms a flexible, invisible, breathable barrier that safely repels the factors that degrade leather health.
Storing your leather jacket
How you store your jacket over summer is a key consideration. Follow these simple rules to ensure its preservation during the offseason. • Clean and condition your jacket before you put away for summer • Find a cool, dry environment for your jackets slumber. Heat is not good news for leather. Leather expands when exposed to high heat so avoid direct sunlight, exposed light bulbs in your closet or warm air vents. Once a leather coat loses its shape, there’s no way of restoring it back to its former shapely self. • Store away from damp. Mould spores and mildew just need the right conditions to grow. Store your leather jacket away from humid conditions and chronic damp. • Cover it with a cotton garment bag. This will ensure your jacket emerges from its hibernation dust free and ready for an outing. • Hang it using a sturdy wooden or padded coat hanger. Empty the pockets as continuous weight could cause stretching.
Follow these tips when storing your leather jacket and it will be ready to step out in style next time you are.
Repairing and restoring your leather jacket
Accidents happened and time can take its toll on the dyes, pigments and coatings. Small rips can be corrected using a DIY leather repair kit. A good kit contains everything you need to do a pro job; leather surface prep, pigments and conditioner. You’ll amaze yourself when you masterfully conceal small scuffs, holes, rips and stains, effectively turning back time for your favourite leather jacket.
Got a black leather jacket?
Give it a new lease on life with Leather Hero’s Black Jacket Reviver No.16. It’s a unique semi-transparent, easy to use, colour boosting, protective cream for black leather designed with your black leather jacket in mind. It lets you bring back a rich, deep black without adding opacity or shine. You can wipe away years of cosmetic damage and revive the original depth of colour all in one project hour.
Perhaps it’s the robust yet soft shell nature of a leather coat that makes it feel like a really cool ‘’me against the world’’ shield or perhaps it’s just that it’s not fabric that makes a leather jacket so special. But whatever it is, for those of us who love our leather jackets, there’s nothing we’d rather wear.
When it comes to leather, there are silent killers; agents that cause it to deteriorate, weaken and eventually rip, peel or crumble. You don’t see them coming because they usually creep up slowly, damaging your leather slowly, diminishing its original strength and beauty.
When you know the enemy and have the right armoury of defence, keeping leather looking and feeling beautiful is easy. Watch out for these leather assassins. Read on to learn what damages leather and how to care for leather.
No.1, Body Oils
When it comes to knowing how to care for leather, this is a big one. We need body oils or sebum to keep our skins looking and feeling young and supple. Without them, we’d be wrapped in itchy, dry, wrinkly old skin. So, if they’re that good for us, how can they be so bad for leather? Every touch and every rest of an arm on an armrest is coated with body oil that’s loaded with salts, enzymes, hormones and acids. Add medications and your leather is being force-fed a bitter pH cocktail that eats away at its insides.
Whilst you and your pets are chilling on the sofa, you are slowly painting it with body oil. You don’t see its impact immediately but after a while, you’ll notice dark, greasy looking patches, cracks and flakes or delamination of the finish. This is a sign that oil has penetrated through the outer coating, accumulated and has literally rotted the fibres of your leather, turning it them to mush Oil soaked leather loses its strength, thins and tears. Sadly, it’s past a point of return and RIP once lovely leather.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Wipe your upholstery with a professional grade leather cleaner every 3 months. This will intercept the accumulation of oils. Next, take out an ‘insurance policy’ for your leather by using a leather protector. This will help to repel oils, reducing their destructive impact.
Harmless dust – no one ever said. Although it seems insignificant, dust contains particles of matter such as soil, pollens, human and animal skin and hair cells, paper and textile fibres, ash, minerals and a myriad of other polluting substances. Mixed with body oils, perspiration and anything else that settles on the surface of your couch, it forms a sludgy paste. This is the dirt you see on your couch. Here, it acts like a sort of micro-abrasive sandpaper that erodes the manufacturer’s coatings. In the absence of a physical barrier, the sludge penetrates the leather via the pores where that harmless dust grinds the fibres and ultimately destroys your leather.
No.3, Salt & Chlorine
Wet, chlorine or salt soaked cossies. Containing harsh chemicals, they have no place on leather so remember to change or dry off before sitting on your luxurious leather with a wet derriere.
Another invisible assailant of leather is humidity. The effects of water on leather vary depending on the amount of water exposure. The amount of moisture in the air is considered “normal” when it’s around 30-40% relative humidity. This means the air is not too dry or too saturated. Entering via the thousands of pores in its surface, humidity is readily absorbed by leather. Some moisture is very beneficial to leather but too much is detrimental. With inadequate moisture, leather becomes dry, brittle and cracks. With optimal moisture, it stays soft and supple. Yet, with too much, mould and mildew can set in.
In a warm, damp environment with poor circulation, airborne fungi and bacteria spores can embed in your leather. If it’s also carrying residual organics spills, you have the perfect climate for a lush mould and mildew garden. Other than managing the levels of humidity around your leather, regular cleaning is the best preventative and corrective measure. What if you and your leather jacket get caught in the rain? Don’t worry, your jacket will be fine providing you hang it in a protected space where the air circulates. Let it dry slowly. Don’t force dry it or hang it straight in your wardrobe whilst it’s still damp.
No.5, Household cleaners
It can’t be said more simply; using the wrong products on your valuable leather can kill it. Just because it’s natural or already in your cupboard doesn’t make it harmless, cheaper or suitable. Boot polish, alcohol, perfumes, beeswax, hair spray, markers, window cleaner, nail polish remover, detergents and baby/wet wipes are unsuitable leather care products. They can dry out, fade, stain, crack, clog, mark or rot your leather. The damage they inflict can be swift or slow but always unforgiving and costly. Beware of seemingly harmless natural and home-made recipes such as olive oil leather conditioner. These remedies may look good on the surface but can wreak havoc on the inside of your valuable upholstery leather. Knowing how to care for leather is largely about using the right leather care products correctly. Stick to professional grade leather care products that are developed specifically for the health and longevity of your leather.
Due to the porous nature of leather, airborne particles can penetrate and cause odours and discolouration. Leather that is frequently in an environment of cigar, cigarette and open fire smoke, as well as cooking fumes, needs a bit of extra care. To minimise the effects of smoke on leather, give it fresh air, regular cleaning and protection.
When you know what damages leather, caring for it becomes easier. Adhere to a 3 monthly care regime using quality leather care products such as the Leather Hero’s Leather Care Kit. As time rolls on and it’s hard to regret taking good care of your things, including your leather furniture.
Leather is robust, resilient, durable, flexible and generally, highly serviceable. It is widely regarded as a luxury material and can be expensive by comparison to alternatives. Yet, and probably due to these qualities, leather often provides years of service with no maintenance. Predictably, however, there is a tipping point when a once beautiful leather piece begins to show the effects of neglect, harsh environmental factors and the use of damaging products. The enemies of leather are often silent, invisible and subtle. Once aware of what damages leather and how to care for leather, you’ll be inspired to set a simple regime of regular care to protect and nourish your leather.
Leather is low maintenance but not no maintenance. Not surprisingly, the old adage ‘’a stich in time saves nine’’ applies to many aspects of leather care. Love your leather by following these simple rules;
Clean up spills immediately. If you catch a spill quickly, it may not become a stain. Set-in stains are almost impossible to remove and usually require refinishing to fully conceal.
If not stitched in, fluff and rotate cushions regularly. Leather eventually moulds to the shape of its most regular position. Switch the cushions around, change seats and plump the cushions to prevent deep wrinkles, stretching and other signs of ‘’Dad’s chair’’ (Sorry Dads, it’s almost universally true that your favourite chair wears out first!).
Alternatively, spread your use of your furniture evenly so that wear and tear are also even. Often lounge suites are discarded because one or two seats have deteriorated ahead of the rest of the suite.
Clean and condition your leather upholstery every 3 months using professional grade leather care products. Use a leather protector to redcue soiling, UV damage and make cleaning easier. The work is light when it’s regular and the cost is minimal compared to purchasing new furniture. Don’t wait until your leather looks dirty. Many of the contaminants that damage it are invisible to the naked eye, such as hair and body oils.
Fix accidents fast. Don’t live with life’s mishaps. Fix the cat scratches, remove the transferred dye and repair the tear. If DIY is not your thing, call a professional.
Armrests bear the brunt of soiling and wear making them particularly vulnerable to damage
Sweat is water with a dash of minerals, lactic acid and urea. Like body oil, perspiration is no friend of leather. Eating through the protective coatings, it actively damages the fibrous structure. Your leather’s salvation lies in a 2- pronged approach; prevention and remediation. On the hottest days, place a washable barrier such as a throw rug between sweaty bodies and your leather. Next, clean that invisible layer of sweat off your leather once every 3 months. It’s hard to remember to fight invisible foes, so put it on your calendar. Follow up with a coating of leather protector then apply a conditioner to show your leather that you care.
No.3, Non-colour fast dyes
Food, clothing, magazine and newspaper dyes can penetrate and stain leather. Remove the stain as soon as possible. Keep some transferred dye remover in your care kit. It will draw out all or most of the dye and any remaining shadow is best recoloured. Try Leather Hero Dye Remover to say goodbye to those unwanted colourful marks on your leather.
No.4, Heat & UV
How luxurious those moments spent in a comfy armchair by a window with a good book soaking up some warm rays of sunshine? Now imagine, you’re the leather armchair; you can never move away from the sun, even on the hottest of days. Imagine the effects on your skin. Leather left in the sun ages as prematurely like skin. It dries, cracks, bleaches and becomes brittle. Faded leather can bleach to a shade of grey, detracting from the original good looks. Similarly, heating vents and radiant heaters can rapidly damage your leather furniture, drying the out the fibres causing splits and rips. Use a good leather protector with UV filters to help prevent dye bleaching. Faded leather can be restored using professional grade leather dyes and pigments. When it comes to how to care for leather, placement and the use of UV filtering blinds is not one to overlook.
An aniline armchair has faded reflecting cosmetic and structural damage from UV exposure
No.5, Thermal shock
Leather does not take kindly to rapid or extreme changes in temperature. Breathing’ through the pores, moisture is taken in and expelled out. When UV exposure is constant or temperature extremes occur, moisture is taxed out of leather leading to dryness and cracking. When it comes to how to care for leather on boats, you just need a good plan. Boats can’t avoid the sun and there’s not a boat owner who would want to. As much protection from covers as possible, very regular cleaning, a good leather protector and nourishment with a quality leather conditioner give sea dwelling leather the best chance of a long and healthy life. Leather Hero Protect No.2 uses advanced technology to impart superior UV protection for leather that can’t avoid a life in the sun.
No.6, Pets & sharp things
It’s fair to say that your adorable furry friend may not be a good friend of your leather lounge. Pet claws and other sharp things such as jean studs, zippers and scissors can damage your leather in a wild moment. Whether it’s a dog jumping on and off or a cat that uses your lounge as a scratching post, their claws can rip deep gauges and leave your furniture in tatters. We know it’s not easy to prevent pet ‘vandalism’. Try using throw rugs, do additional training, facilitate their natural behaviours outdoors or place a scratching post indoors. If the damage is done, all is not lost. It is possible to restore pet damage using professional grade leather repair products such as the Leather Hero Small Repair Kit.
Life should never be about becoming a slave to your possessions. Yet, following some simple guidelines can, with little effort, protect your investment in beautiful leather furnishings. So if you’ve been wondering what damages leather and how to care for leather, these are our tips. Be mindful of the effects of radical temperature changes, place leather away from windows and heaters, provide pet beds and train your furry friends to love them, remove stains asap and give your furniture a quick once over every 3 months (no scrubbing required). You’ll be glad you did.
“Natural” – that’s always best, right? If it’s good for human skin how can it be bad for leather?
Sometimes, it hard to know whether it’s OK to use the products from our cupboards or whether a specialist leather care lounge kit is actually necessary. It’s tempting to conclude that a homemade natural product is superior to one made from unpronounceable ingredients. Sounds fair but does it actually ring true when it comes to leather upholstery? To answer all of these questions, let’s look at leather upholstery, leather lounge care, homemade leather conditioner, the leather top coat finish and the science of leather.
What is leather?
Leather is tanned hide. Although biodegradable both as skin and as leather, tanneries process hides to render them more resistant to decomposition thus producing a flexible and durable material. With few exceptions, tanneries make leather using tanning chemicals that preserve and soften the hide. They treat the raw leather with dyes, pigments and protective leather top coat finish coatings to enhance the feel, create a great diversity of aesthetic finishes and render a highly serviceable material. In a nutshell, the leather we buy is natural raw material that is chemically treated to create a viable consumer product.
A premium leather lounge care kit is biodegradable, non-toxic and water-based. Professional grade leather care products have been tested and proven to help maintain, repair and maximise the beauty and longevity of leather upholstery. In fact, it’s widely accepted that correctly maintained leather lasts around three times longer than leather that is left untreated or is treated with the wrong products. By preserving the leather top coat finish, the material is protected and preserved.
Hungry thirsty leather
‘OK great’, you might say, ‘but that doesn’t mean natural remedies are harmful’. In truth, to those in the leather care industry, who’ve seen first-hand the impact of these concoctions and inappropriately used household cleaners, it does.
Taking DIY too far
The internet and social media host a plethora of homebrew leather care recipes where everything from vinegar, baby soap, olive oil, essential oils, massage oils, coconut oil and coco butter are recommended. A homemade leather conditioner may remove some surface dirt and leave a glossy shine but that’s where the good news ends. Tricking you into thinking that you’ve given your leather a nourishing feed, that glossy shine is sticky, attracts and holds dirt and airborne particles – (think ‘’tarred and feathered’’ on a super fine level). With repeat applications, leather becomes coated in a tacky sludge that clogs the pores and does nothing for its health or beauty. And that’s just on the outside; on the inside, the situation is worse.
It’s an unfortunate myth that oil acts to nourish upholstery leather when in reality it actively accelerates its deterioration. Many articles recommend olive oil as a leather conditioner. If you’ve seen the effects of human oils (hair and body) on leather, you might rightly question this recommendation. Oil readily soaks into the highly permeable fibres of leather. Under the surface, it spreads and eventually resurfaces, appearing as dark greasy patches. When this happens, delamination (or peeling) of the maker’s coatings ensues.
The appeal of homemade leather condition is easy to understand; it seems harmless; we eat it, after all. You get instant results with the appearance of moisturisation, minimised scratches, a colour and shine boost and there may even be improved suppleness. However, what you can’t see is that the oil has begun rotting your leather from the inside out. Once embedded deep within the structure, it cannot easily be removed.
The effects of oil on leather furniture
Foot cream on your face
Oddly, household cleaners are often unwittingly used to inflict fatal damage to leather upholstery. Never risk your investment by resorting to the likes of nail polish remover, wet wipes, markers, orange oil, hairspray, sunlight soap, kitchen and bathroom abrasives, eraser sponges or window cleaner – and the list goes on. Often containing alcohol, acetone and abrasives they can strip protective leather top coat finish coatings, remove or change colours, dry out, mark, clog and suffocate your leather.
A red wine spill was cleaned using a bathroom & kitchen cream abrasive.
Large rips and delamination mark the scene of the crime.
Think of it this way, you wouldn’t use foot cream on your face,
laundry powder to wash your dishes or
stainless steel polish on your wooden dining table!
Leather is slightly acidic with a pH level of 4.5. Most household cleaners are alkaline with pH levels of 9 or above. When in contact, this differential creates a chemical reaction that affects not only the surface but also the fibrous structure of leather. The greater the differential, the greater the effect. The use of alkaline cleaners weakens the fibres, slowly breaking them down. You won’t see this happening. What you will see is the inevitable drying and cracking that results. Further compounding this damage, household cleaners can strip the manufacturers leather topcoat finish and colour coatings. Without them, leather is exposed to everyday abrasion, body oils and soiling.
The wrong product and rubbing removed the coatings from this sofa
Other leather mistakes
Different leathers require different care. When it comes to leather lounge care, boot polish is for boots and saddle soap is for saddles. Furniture leather ‘breathes’, taking in and expelling moisture through the pores. The wrong type of conditioner, conditioning without cleaning beforehand or indeed, too much conditioning can clog the pores, trapping dust, dirt and grime within the structure. Leather furniture can cope with an occasional wipe with a water dampened cloth. Too often or too much water and big problems occur. Penetrating through the leather top coat finish and deep into the fibres, water can bond with and transport the lubricating fats (that keep leather soft and supple) out through the pores. The result? dry cracked and ripped upholstery. Selecting the correct leather care products for your leather type is essential to maintaining the health and beauty of your leather upholstery.
Leather care products are more expensive than some other domestic cleaners. A good leather lounge care kit is designed to be used in an emergency (such as a red wine spill) and periodically (every 3 to 6 months) as part of a long-term care regime aimed at extending the longevity of leather upholstery. Pantry ingredients are generally far cheaper. However, mixing a homemade leather conditioner to make a home recipe takes time and costs can add up quickly. If that recipe then causes damage to your leather, the real cost is the early demise of your furniture.
Leather can be an expensive luxury; an investment in quality. It makes sense then, to care for it correctly. Love your leather by giving it what it needs. Avoid false economies, myths and shortcuts. Use a quality leather lounge care kit made especially for leather and it will look and feel beautiful long into the future.