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Choosing the right leather cleaner

Leather is luxury; it is robust and durable. It is so durable that we can be lulled into thinking that it doesn’t require any maintenance and will remain beautiful forever. Yet, just like everything that we touch and use on a daily basis, it gathers grime, oils and perspiration from our skin, dust from the air, and marks and stains from spills and other accidents. Choosing the right leather cleaner for your job helps to ensure a great result that cares for your leather.

Different cleaners for different jobs

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all leather cleaner that is safe and effective for use on all leathers. It is important to use the correct cleaner for your leather type and your purpose. A mild cleaner may be safe to use on all leather types but would be less effective in some situations. For example, a mild cleaner would not be suitable for preparing leather for recolouring. A strong cleaner may be too strong for some leathers. It could cause unwanted coatings disturbance.

Cleanse (No.1) did a great job on this soiled leather sofa. It is an ideal leather sofa cleaner (for pigmented leather)

Choosing the right cleaner

You might be wondering how to clean dirty leather. It all starts with choosing the right leather cleaner for your job. Let’s look at a few cleaners to get a better understanding of their correct applications.

Nubuck, Suede &
Aniline Cleanse (No.10)
Regular care & accidental
Mild cleaner suitable for unfinished (uncoated) leathers. Use immediately when spills happen to avoid permanent stainsCan be used on all types but less effective therefore less suitable on other leather types. Old stains may not be removed but may soften in appearance with regular ongoing maintenance (cleaning & conditioning). Not suitable for pre-repair or recolouring cleaning. Always clean before conditioning
Cleanse (No.1)Regular care & accidental spillsA maintenance strength cleaner for use on pigmented (painted) leather such as car seats, & pigmented sofas, apparel & bags. Compatible with pigmented leathers & most man-made leathers (vinyls & faux). Not suitable for pre-repair or recolouring cleaning. Always clean before conditioning
Spot & Prep (No.4)Stubborn spot cleaning & surface prep before repairing or recolouringA strong leather cleaner for use when repairing or recolouring leather. Can be used for spot cleaning and spring cleaning. (Test before use as weaker coatings may be disturbed by strong cleaners)Best for pre-colouring cleaning & surface prep. If using for spot or spring cleaning, note that it can flatten shine so use a leather conditioner to restore a pleasing luster and hand (touch). Not suitable for regular maintenance cleaning
Dye Remover (No.15)Can remove fresh transferred dye stains from pigmented leathersA specialist cleaner for removing dyes from clothing, print, hair colourants & other dyes from the surface of pigmented leatherBest results are achieved when the dye is removed before it has penetrated into the topcoat or colour coatings. Porous coatings may absorb the dye, making removal difficult. Keep this cleaner on hand especially if you have white or light coloured leather and wear dark blue or black clothing or throw rugs and cushions. Always condition after cleaning
Ink Stick (No.17)Can remove fresh ink from pigmented leatherA specialist cleaner for removing ink from leather. (Test before use as weaker coatings & some dyes may be disturbed by this cleaner)Best results are achieved when the ink is removed before it has penetrated into the topcoat or colour coatings. Porous coatings may absorb the ink, making removal difficult. Keep this cleaner on hand for when accidents happen. Always condition after cleaning
Mould Remover (No.21)Remove and inhibit mould and mildew infestations in leatherA specialist cleaner for controlling mould in and on leather. Apply generously and allow to penetrate before conditioning the leatherUse before and after placing furniture and apparel into storage and as needed at other times. If possible, manage mould-friendly conditions. In rare cases, well-established, long-term mould colonies can eat into the coatings making them look ‘frosted’. Recolouring can resolve this minor surface issue. Always condition after cleaning or treating mould

Inks and dyes

Inks and dyes are made from seriously potent stuff. They are designed to pack a strong colour punch and be permanent and are therefore, not something you want on your precious leather. Specialist cleaners such as Dye Remover and Ink Stick work wonders when cleaning stains for leather and are best kept on hand for when accidents happen as time is of the essence. Once penetrated, the stain may be indelible and recolouring may be the best option.

Ink Stick - Leather Hero
The ink is removed quickly and easily using Ink Stick (No.17)

Cleaning regimes

Leather responds best to light and regular servicing. Depending on your usage, this might be once a month or once every 3 months or so. Once a year is definitely not often enough in most environments. Remember, it’s the soiling you can’t see that does the most damage to your leather. That’s body and hair oil together with perspiration. The places you touch are the areas that most need regular care.

Harsh cleaning can do more damage than good. Avoid machine (steam cleaning) and stick to cleaning that you can watch and control as you go. Leather that is correctly maintained lasts around 3 times longer and looks a great deal better than leather that receives no care at all.

This white leather lounge was overdue for a thorough service. Spot & Prep (No.4) cleaned away heavy grime. A conditioner was used to restore a pleasing look and feel to the leather after this much-needed spring clean. Note that the coatings on this lounge were good quality and in robust condition and therefore able to take strong cleaning. Spot and Prep is not suitable for regular maintenance cleaning. Test before using.

Leather accessories

Routine maintenance using the correct cleaner and conditioner, along with a soft bristle brush and white microfibre cloth is all the equipment needed to produce optimum results.

Cleaning Mould

When cleaning mould, have lots of cloths on hand. Use half of them to clean the mould off and the other half to ‘rinse’. The aim is to remove mould spores ensuring that you last wipe-over is with a clean cloth carrying a generous amount of Mould Remover. Lauder the cloths well or discard them in a sealed bag.

Mould thrives in warm, high humidity environments where there’s a good source of organic matter (grime from our hands) and a fibrous home to colonise. Mould Remover kills mould spores and inhibits further infestations.