Why Does Leather Need Protection and Special Care? Leather is a natural product and despite being tough and generally resilience and easy care it is porous and prone to drying out.
Leather needs regular treatment with a conditioner and protective cream to provide an outer 'raincoat' to shed stains, chemicals and various other substances. Just lie skin, leather needs to be moisturized to stay supple and avoid dying-out and cracking.
Exposure to sunlight and heat can cause cracking. Once the surface is cracked and dry it is much more prone to stains and dirt which can penetrate into the leather making them much harder to remove.
The cleaning process itself can dry and damage the leather surface increasing the risk of future stains and marks and early ageing and deterioration of the leather.
This article provides a general guide on how to care for, protect leather, clean and re-condition leather.
It also provides tips for cleaning leather coats and jackets (including suede), couches and upholstery, purses and handbags and car seats. Shoes are not included because they require a different approach.
Stains - Raw leather is very absorbent and loves to soak-up water or any liquid it comes into contact with. That is why it is so vulnerable stains if there are no protections in place. Once stains penetrate they are very hard to remove. High quality leather protection creams and conditioners provide a water resistant covering for the leather surface. Once the protection is added the leather is much easier to keep clean as spills simply wipe off.
Damage – Despite its reputation the outer layer of leather is soft and vulnerable to chemical and physical damage Over time, human body oils and perspiration, pets and sharp objects can dry and damage leather.
Drying - Leather is very vulnerable to drying out and this causes cracks and other damage to the leather. Cleaning products also have a drying effect. Protection creams and conditioners help to protect the leather from drying and help overcome minor drying damage.
White leather needs special protection – Garments, handbags and leather couches and upholstery made from white leather or very light colors requires special attention. It is very vulnerable to stains and marks. Dye transfers from damp clothes and food spillages are also common. Always wipe up any spillages quickly and treat the leather frequently with protective creams and conditioners designed for white and light colored leather.
Spillages - Clean all spillages quickly and thoroughly. Never let them dry of soak in.
Spot Stains - Removes spots, marks and small stains immediately you notice them. The longer you leave them the harder they will be to remove.
Clean your Leather Furniture Regularly but Lightly – Keeping your upholstery clean with a regular spot clean and wipe over is the best way to avoid having to deal with heavy staining. Treat it gently and apply a conditioner.
Use Protective Creams and Conditioners - Apply protective creams or conditioners after very cleaning session, beginning with the first application when you have the furniture delivered to your house and before you use it.
Keep your leather furniture and leather car seats away from heat and avoid direct sunlight - Heat and sunlight causes leather to dry out and bleach. Drying makes the leather brittle, stiff and prone to cracking. Locate your furniture at least well away from any sources of heat such as room heaters and out of direct sunlight that may protrude into the room.
Choose high quality care products specifically designed for the type of leather - Only use cleaning and protection designed for leather. Never use strong detergents, chemicals, bleaches or household cleaning products on leather. Always test leather care products before use as their impact may vary.
Protect your furniture from physical damage - Leather is tough and resilient, but it is not immune to damage. Leather needs to be protected from scuffs, burns, tears, scapes and scratches. Knives and other sharp things can damage leather. Pets can also damage the surface. Shoes can cause scuffing. Some precautions are:
Avoid sunlight - Never place your furniture in direct sunlight. Sunlight has a drying effect on leather.
Keep all dyes away from any Leather Products - Leather is porous and absorbs moisture unless it is sealed: Sources of dyes are:
Use leather conditioners supplied, or recommended by the manufacturer of the leather goods according to the instructions - Don’t miss regular treatments.
All types of soiling from dust or perspiration can eventually damage the leather. Dust, dirt and sand are abrasive: it acts like sandpaper. So regular cleaning is necessary.
Every week - Dust your furniture using a vacuum cleaner (low suction setting) fitted with upholstery attachment or a soft brush head. Next use a very clean cloth dampened with warm soapy water to wipe over all the surfaces. Look carefully for any spots are marks. Clean them off with the spot treatments described below. Dry the leather with a soft towel and apply a leather protective cream or conditioner.
Every 3-6 months - You should thoroughly clean your furniture with the recommended leather furniture cleaner for your furniture. This is designed to remove general stains and marks and the built-up dirt, grime and mildew. Re-apply conditioners and leather creams to help keep the leather moist and in good condition.
Home Cleaning Remedy
Home Polish Remedy
Gently wiping over the surface of the jacket with a mild soap on a damp cloth is generally sufficient. For bad staining use proprietary products purchased from leather clothing suppliers. Always use high quality products and test first to ensure they are color-safe. Always apply a high quality leather coat conditioner after cleaning. Clean the inside of the jacket with cleaner suitable for the fabric. Be careful not to spill it on the leather.
Handbags made from unsealed Leather (leather will darken with water)
Handbags made from sealed and finished Leather (leather will not darken with water)
Mildew can be treated with 50:50 mix of water and rubbing alcohol. Rub the stain with a soft cloth. Reapplying conditioner will be necessary because the alcohol removes the oil. Don’t use Chlorine Bleach on leather.
Perspiration stains can be treated using a mixture of vinegar and water (75:25).
Blood stains can be removed by using ammonia and water (25:75 always test first).
Gum can generally be removed from the surface with ice cubes. Chilling the area, hardens the gum and it will generally come off when rub with a soft cloth.