Leather Care Tips
Some consider leather to be bullet proof and able to maintain itself, the truth is no leather is maintenance free but it can be low maintenance if you buy correctly and care for it on a regular basis. Before your purchase consider the
points below and make a decision based on the answers you arrive at.
- What type of leather should I buy? will it be suitable for our needs?
- Where will it be positioned? in front of a south facing window?
- Is it practical for its purpose? will it be hard wearing for everyday use?
- Does it mark when scratched? is it suitable for pets?
- Is it absorbent? if so will it easily stain?
- A pale coloured suite may look fabulous in the showroom but how often will it need cleaning to retain that look?
Cleaning & Protecting
The diagram below demonstrates the importance of cleaning your leather on a regular basis and what may happen if you decide not to.
Key: Dirt Finish Pigment Hide
Fig 1 is showing a cross section through a clean piece of red pigmented leather.
Fig 2 is the same leather with a degree of dirt sitting on top of the finish, this is the optimum time for cleaning.
By not cleaning at Fig 2 the dirt is drawn deeper into the leather as shown in Fig 3.
Fig 4 may be the point of no return, the dirt has been absorbed and even a professional clean may not remove it all.
- When purchasing cleaning or protection products try to avoid wipes and aerosol sprays, good quality water based products may be dearer but over time your leather will benefit from their use.
- Apply a protection product as soon as possible after purchasing any new leather, suede or nubuck item to help repel dirt, grease and liquids.
- Avoid care products labeled "Feed" or other derivatives of, it is a nonsense word as regards leather and would only have some relevance if your leather was still attached to the animal it came from.
- Clean up spills as they occur, the longer they are left the more they will be absorbed by the leather making them harder to remove. Try to dab up, rubbing will tend to spread the spill making the affected area even larger.
- Avoid using wax or oil based polishes on leather as they will either break down the finish or cause a build up on the surface, neither of which will do your leather any good.
- Wiping over your leather with a damp cloth on a weekly basis will remove dust and aid the hydration process. (Not recommended on some aniline leathers, cracked leather, nubuck or suede).
- Using the same cloth exclusively for your leather cleaning will prevent cross contamination of furniture polish etc onto your leather items.
- Excessive rubbing may damage your leather, if you feel you need to do this you may be past the cleaning stage and approaching restoration, a good phrase to remember is "wipe not rub".
- Clothes covers are ideal when storing suede/leather jackets, they are a practical and cheap way to prevent dust ingress.
- Suede jackets are fabulous when new but will attract dirt like a magnet with limited cleaning and very limited restoration options.
- If possible when entering/exiting your car ensure the seats are as far back as possible to help prevent rubbing on the side bolsters.
- Your rear seats may not endure much use but they will still require cleaning and protecting as regularly as the front.
- Try not to position furniture in direct sunlight, if impractical draw the curtains during peak sunlight hours.
- Placing furniture in front of radiators or any heat source will quickly dehydrate any leather and over time will lead to cracking.
- Avoid purchasing nubuck furniture, it is extremely difficult to care for with no sensible options for restoration.
- Being light, pale coloured suites are very prone to dye transfer from dark clothing or newspaper print, be wary of this and try to remove as soon as this occurs.
- If your cushions have unprotected zips, position them to the side and not at the bottom.
- An 'antiqued' effect on leather is achieved by applying a darker top coat of pigment over a lighter base, Chesterfields are a good example. This top coat can be quite delicate and is easily removed by over aggressive cleaning and heavy wear.
- Generally speaking the more expensive and softer handbags are the more absorbent they will be and the easier they will mark.
- Pens will sometimes leak and if they leak inside your bag the ink may be drawn through and appear as a stain on the outside, ideally keep them out of your handbag, if impractical try to 'leak proof' them by placing them in an old glasses case.
- If no dust bag was supplied with your handbag use a pillow case during storage, plump out using old cloth remnant's etc to help it retain its shape.
- Skin conditioners and hand creams can contain products which may damage the handles on your handbag causing them to blacken, to avoid this use a shoulder strap if supplied or hang the handbag over your arm.
- Ink stain removal can be a complex procedure depending on how long the ink has been left to be absorbed, rubbing with general cleaners may produce an ink halo rather then remove it, contact Leather Solutions for advise.
- As nail varnish remover is coloured acetone this may remove the colour pigment from your leather so think carefully before using it.
- If you do have a nail varnish spill dip the corner of some tissue into the varnish and allow to absorb, do not rub, allow any remaining varnish to dry and carefully attempt to peel off, be prepared for colour or even fibre loss.
- Do not allow water spills on absorbent leathers such as aniline to dry out as this will form a hard edge around the spill and create a stain, damp down the entire affected panel with clean water and allow to dry naturally.
- If using hair products try to avoid touching the back cushion with your head or use a throw with a waterproof backing, absorbent leathers will draw the product in and these areas will not clean out, restoration, in some cases only
partial, is the only option.
- If you are in the unfortunate position of having hair products or natural greases absorbed by your leather try heating the affected area with a hair dryer and GENTLY wipe away the residue with a kitchen tissue, use a clean piece
of tissue after every wipe so as not to deposit what you have just removed back onto the leather. Exercise extreme caution if following this tip, DO NOT overheat or wipe to hard.
- Excercise caution when browsing leather care internet forums unless professionally hosted, although well intentioned the advise given may cause more problems than it cures.