Posted on

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.

Prevention

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 to 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.

Method

Test

  1. Start with Nubuck, Suede & Aniline Care Kit. Test each product in an inconspicuous place to assess compatibility with your leather. If there are any unwanted changes, do not proceed

Clean

  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

Condition

  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

Protect

  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

Regime

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

Cleaning

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.

Leather 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.

Method:

  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.

Water

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

Conditioning

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.

Protecting

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. Try Leather Hero’s Protect (No.3) on your unfinished leathers. 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)