Simple tips to care for leather furniture

July 27, 2015

Protecting your leather furniture is a great way to keep your home decor looking fresh and up-to-trend. Embracing these simple steps will keep your furniture looking fresh and welcoming.

Simple tips to care for leather furniture

Learning to recogonize types of leather

Leather furniture is available at surprisingly low prices today. However, skin and dye qualities can vary greatly. Aniline-dyed leather is superior to surface-dyed leather. The latter is sometimes called "painted" leather because the dye only coats the surface while the former penetrates the skin and is visible on the back. To check, open a zippered cushion and look at the reverse side. The label will tell you the care needed; if not, seek professional advice. Here are some leather terms you should know.

  • Split leather: When a cow's hide is doubled in size by slicing it in half along its thickness, it results in two layers of equal thickness but not equal quality. The "split leather" is the bottom half of the hide, which has no grain, is stretchier and has poor durability.
  • Top-grain: The upper layer of a hide that has been split is the superior top-grain. To tell if leather is top-grain, examine it under a magnifying glass — the leather will show tiny natural pores.
  •  Rectified or corrected leather: This leather has had an artificial grain pattern heat-set into its surface to imitate a high-quality full-grain leather.
  • Full-grain: This unsplit leather shows a natural (not embossed) grain.

Caring for leather furniture

Leather is treated with a protectant at the tannery, so generally cleaners are not recommended since they can harm the leather finish. Here are some simple, everyday maintenance tips that prevent your leather furniture from looking worn or dated.

  • Clean up spills immediately, but if a liquid does soak in, blot it with a weak solution of soap and water.
  • Blot up greasy spots as much as possible, but do not use water. Sometimes, the oil will be absorbed into the leather and become part of the natural patina that develops over time.
  • Vacuum leather furniture regularly with the crevice upholstery attachment of your machine.
  • An artist's brush is handy for lifting dust from tufted areas and pleats.
  • Give the leather an occasional wipe with a soft, clean cloth dampened with warm water to retard the buildup of body oils on the surface.
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