This is it in a nutshell… well 11 nutshells. When it comes to caring for leather upholstery, these are the golden rules. Whether you have invested in leather furniture, a leather boat lounge, leather car seats or apparel, these essential guidelines show you how to get the best out of your investment.
Loyal, long-wearing leather is a robust and luxurious material; a premium choice owned for a premium price. It’s best to remember that whilst it is low-maintenance, it’s definitely not no-maintenance. Here are our tips for enjoying beautiful leather upholstery that lasts:
First-Aid for Leather
Usually, a spill isn’t a stain until it has time to set in. Have the right products on hand for when accidents happen and you can forget it ever happened.
If the kids get creative with pens and textas, remove their masterpieces right away. The longer their artwork is displayed the more permanent it becomes. If that’s the case, remove the available pigments from the stain and recolour the area with a leather repair kit
Keeping it Real When it Comes to Caring for Leather
Household products are a No-No. It simply isn’t worth the complications down the track so stick to leather care products and don’t be duped into using potentially damaging substitutes.
A light wipe over every 3 months is easy work. Leave it for a few years and the grime will have settled deep in the grain and will be much more difficult to remove. A light clean every 3 to 6 months will keep your leather looking beautiful and in fine condition.
A light condition every three months helps to keep the luxury in your leather. Don’t overdo it, just do it regularly.
Science and nature have something to help you care for your leather. A good leather protector offers a wipe-on, breathable protective shield that improves cleanability, resists stains and blocks UV. Use it from Day 1 when your leather is in showroom condition and enjoy that lush new leather feeling for much longer.
Managing environmental factors
UV is no friend of leather. It quickly dries out the inner fibres and leaves your upholstery brittle and very ready to tear.
Air vents and heaters can silently evaporate the moisture balance from your leather leaving it parched and brittle. Take care to place them apart.
High humidity, rising damp or storing leather whilst still damp can create the perfect environment for mould spores to flourish. Good natural airflow and complete drying will help to prevent mould and mildew.
Caring for Leather; Call in the Leather Professionals
The oldie truism says it all; “A stitch in time saves nine”. Small rips only grow bigger. Our tip? repair or have them repaired before they deteriorate.
For some, a yearly service is too much, for others, it’s very much needed. Some sofas work day and night, others are seldom used showpieces. Some homes have pets or children, some recliners are occupied every day, some sofas are in busy hotel foyers and others are in a spare room that’s only inhabited by guests at Christmas. The same goes for car and boat seats and lounges. Whatever the usage, if you don’t get around to a 3 monthly once-over, have your leather professional do it for you.
In conclusion, neglected leather is unpleasant to live with and tends to perish early. Well maintained leather, on the other hand, lasts around 3 times longer. And while it does that, it looks and feels beautiful.
Let’s look at the main types of leather used in furniture upholstery and their key features. When it comes to caring for upholstery leathers, it’s important to know what type of leather you have before selecting your leather care products. That’s because each finish tolerates and benefits from different cleaners, conditioners and colourants. Using the wrong product may expose your leather to the risk of damage, unwanted changes or provide less than optimal results. So, how can you find out what leather you have when your memories and receipt have faded? There are a couple of quick checks you can make to unearth the missing information.
Look for a product tag. Check theunderside of the sofa, the lower backrest seam or the bottom of a cushion for a descriptive tag. If you are in luck, it may list the type of leather and your search is over.
Search online for the same model. If you know the manufacturer, brand and model and it’s still in production, you may be able to verify the leather type via an online search. If you only know the store, they may also be able to help.
TYPES OF LEATHER
In the absence of an informative label, identifying one leather from another requires a process of elimination. Although there are countless leather and leather finishing variants in use around the world, when it comes to upholstery leather, most fit into 1 of 5 main types:
Aniline and Semi-aniline
Nubuck and Suede
Waxed or Pull-up
Each type of leather has broadly typical characteristics. Use this quiz to help identify your leather.
If fingernail scratches leave a mark and water absorbs quickly...
Your leather may be ANILINE or SEMI-ANILINE
ANILINE & SEMI-ANILINE FURNITURE UPHOLSTERY
Aniline leather is “unfinished”. With little or no protection from topcoat layers, it tends to show scratches and absorb water quickly. Aniline leather is usually drum dyed. The colour passes right through the hide from the front to back. Popular shades include tan, brown and mahogany. Luxuriously soft and warm to touch, anilines may display naturally irregular grain, blemishes, wrinkles and creases. Semi-aniline leathers are a more practical version of this premium leather type. They are semi-protected by light layers of colour and topcoats which lend serviceability. Use Leather Hero’s Nubuck, Suede & Aniline Care Kit to keep you aniline upholstery looking its best.
If it is water resistant and the finish is a solid opaque colour or painted effect...
Your leather may be PIGMENTED
PIGMENTED FURNITURE UPHOLSTERY
Pigmented leather is the most common leather type found in family homes and cars today. If your sofa is opaque monochromatic red, black, blue, white, stone, chocolate or any other solid colour, it is more than likely, upholstered in pigmented leather. This practical material is finished with layers of protective colour and topcoats that lend a degree of water and stain resistance. In addition, manufacturers use transparent pigments and dyes to create special painted finishes such as antiquing. The Leather Hero Leather Care Kit is ideal for maintaining pigmented leather.
If it's water resistant and the finish is a solid opaque colour or painted effect...
Your leather may be PIGMENTED
If it has a nap or pile and it's warm and velvety to touch...
Your leather may be NUBUCK or SUEDE
NUBUCK & SUEDE FURNITURE UPHOLSTERY
These leathers are relatively easy to distinguish as a result of their luxurious plush hand (feel under touch). Nubuck and suede are ‘unfinished’ or ‘unprotected’ types of leather. This means that they have no barrier to soiling, spills and stains. Often made in soft warm whites through to rich tans and browns, these leathers require specific care to maintain their beauty. Choose from Leather Hero’s range of Nubuck, Suede & Aniline leather care products to make your leather look great and last longer.
If it's water resistant and the finish has a burnished patina of creases and cracks that give a distressed look...
Your leather may be WAXED or PULL-UP
WAXED or PULL-UP FURNITURE UPHOLSTERY
During the finishing and upholstery processes, a tapestry of light coloured fault lines forms on Pull-up leather. These beautiful random striations add character and appeal. Waxed leather tends to be water resistant and often comes in the ‘natural’ earth tones of tan and brown. If you have a waxed leather sofa the Leather Hero Waxed Leather Care Kit contains your must-have leather care products.
If the underside is woven and /or it smells like plastic and/or the pores are in a regular pattern...
Your leather may be MAN-MADE
MAN-MADE FURNITURE UPHOLSTERY
Bonded, split, PU, faux and vinyl are man-made materials. Although they are not technically types of leather, they are commonly used in upholstery and often referred to as ‘leather’. Bonded and split leather both contain some leather components but are heavily processed to render a viable product. In fact, leather may be a minor ingredient in the final product. The other ‘leathers’ are synthetic versions that mimic the real thing. Manufactured from plastics and fabrics, sometimes the underside looks woven, other times not. Smell is usually a good differentiator as are unnaturally regular pores. The Leather Hero Leather Care Kit is perfect for keeping these materials clean, soft and protected from soiling and stains.
CHOOSING LEATHER CARE PRODUCTS
What’s good for one type of leather may not be good for the next. There is a myriad of leather finishes and each has unique needs. It’s tempting to always go for the strongest leather care product to make light work of the task. Consider this; a waxy polish might be ideal for waxed leather whilst creating unwelcome changes on suede leather. A far better choice is to use leather care products that are developed for each type of leather. This minimises the risk of damage and ensure that you achieve the best possible results. No matter what type of leather you have, remember that you want excellent short-term and long-term results.Avoid home-made and cheap leather care products. Stick with professional grade solutions and give your leather upholstery the care it needs.
Your leather upholstery doesn’t need much from you but it will respond generously to the right care. You can easily choose the right product for your job now that you are armed with the right information about the types of leather most commonly used in furniture upholstery today.
Over and over again we hear the same lament from our service customers; they didn’t know what to look for when buying leather furniture, when caring for it or that repair and restoration were possible. The result is all too often, disappointment and regret.
That’s why we’ve created the Leather Hero Blog. Our mission is to help demystify leather, guide leather lovers towards informed buying decisions and provide care and maintenance products and advice they can trust. Another inspiration for this sharing of information is our desire to play a part in reducing waste. We just don’t like landfill. It’s our hope that by helping leather lovers to buy well and maximise the viable life of their purchase, we can reduce the fast consumption to waste cycle that results in mountains of landfill.
Making Leather Care Easy
Leather isn’t like anything else. It’s inherent warmth, texture, touch and aesthetic is pure luxury. Buying leather, whether it’s a sofa, a jacket or car seats, is a premium choice with the potential to deliver years, even decades of superior service. Most buyers start out with a strong intention to maintain it carefully. Yet, often this falls by the wayside. Why? One reason has to be that life gets in the way. Another reason and one we hear often is that they were unsure of what to do and what to use. That spurs us to create useful leather information, to fill in the information gaps and give other leather lovers the knowledge and confidence they need to be their own leather hero.
Real Life Experience & Science on Our Side
The Leather Hero Blog is built on combined wisdom. It’s through real-life hands-on experience, shared information from our network of leather industry professionals, and access to scientific research and development that enables us to put forth reliable leather care information. When we speak of risks, we’ve seen the nasty outcomes with our own eyes. When we suggest a care regime, it’s because we’ve seen what happens in its absence and because we know it works. And lastly, when we offer analysis of leather types, it’s to help you make the right choice.
Leather is Leather; Or is it?
It’s good to remember that there is not one leather, one tannery or one type of leather finish. Quality varies dramatically. Over recent decades, factories have experimented with new manufacturing techniques and finishes in search of cheaper production. Not all experiments have been successful and research and development continue today. These are just some of the factors that make leather repair and refinishing a dynamic and interesting space.
Share With Us
So passionate and curious Leather Heros, let’s explore leather and its care together. It might be a little bit ‘old school’ but for the sake of your wallet and the planet, let us inspire you to care for your things and repair before replacing. Your contribution is always welcome. Send us pics of your regretful leather care mishaps and triumphant Before and Afters, questions, stories and ideas.
A great leather jacket is a beautiful thing. Whether a snug little crop bomber, a studded, zippered biker, a billowing trench or demi-cape, a leather coat is an investment that exudes an edgy ‘born to be wild’ attitude. From a practical standpoint, leather jackets are insulating and flexible with the ability to mould to the shape of their owner. Improving with age, a well-worn leather jacket hugs you like a faithful old friend.
What is it about leather jackets?
Leather has been worn since prehistoric times and each civilisation since as crafted new forms, functions and styles from it. In the early 1900’s leather jackets were adopted by European armies for their rugged strength and warmth. Half a century later, the leather jacket had moved to Hollywood where leading men such as Garry Cooper and Jimmy Stewart somehow imbued the garment with aspirational iconic cool. Over the course of the next 50 years, it was adopted as the garb of pop and subcultures like greasers, punks, rock stars and bikers. Its once bad boy reputation has softened but not entirely disappeared. Retaining some of its dangerous edge, the leather jacket remains universally appealing as a style statement and treasured wardrobe must-have. Worn by royals, mums, divas and superstars, the never boring leather jacket is a luxury garment, designed in a multitude of colours, finishes, cuts and man-made versions.
You may know how to rock a leather jacket but do you know how to care for it? This wardrobe hero has the potential to journey through the decade with you. Let’s look at what it needs to go the distance.
Wearing your leather jacket
Unlike other materials, leather has pores through which it soaks in its environment as it ‘breathes’. Taking in fresh air it is able to top up expelled moisture and release the unwelcome effects of smells, smoke, rain and pollution. When wearing your leather jacket, try to avoid contact with abrasive surfaces that could scratch through protective coatings, erode pigments or wear the surface of your leather jacket. If you and your beloved jacket get caught in the rain, it’s not the end of the world. Remove as much water as you can by dabbing it with a clean dry cloth then hang it up to dry naturally in an airy location. Don’t force dry it or you could end up with a stiff corpse that may never return to its former glory.
Cleaning your leather jacket
Cleaning your leather jacket isn’t a maybe, it’s a must. Remove the surface grime you can and can’t see with a good leather cleaner. Dust, mould, body acids, oils and dirt can settle in the tiny pores in the surface of the leather. If left to build up, these contaminants clog the pores and break down the structure of your leather. Thinning, rips, holes and delamination follow and your much-loved jacket is on its way out.
Remember that spills can become permanent stains so remove them quickly. Specialist products like the Leather Hero Ink Stick (No.17) are invaluable when your pen does the unthinkable and leaves an eye-catching blue squiggle right across the chest area of your white leather jacket! A light 3 monthly clean is preferable to waiting until your beloved jacket is choking on built-up grime that only harsh scrubbing will remove.
Conditioning your leather jacket
A good leather conditioner contains lubricants that penetrate and nourish your leather with moisture. Over time and in dry environments your leathers natural lubricants break down and dissipate. Under the surface, it’s made up of a myriad of fibres knitted together by protein bonds. If these fibres are allowed to become parched, brittle and dry, they start to rub together, abrade one another and eventually, they disintegrate. That’s why conditioning your leather jacket with a good leather conditioner is so important to keep your leather jacket supple.
Protecting your leather jacket
‘’Protection? Is my jacket under attack?’’ I hear you ask. The answer is ‘’yes, it’s under attack’’. Remember all of those icky human oils, dirt, mould and grime? A protector with anti-soiling properties helps to prevent dirt from sticking, water from absorbing, UV from drying and stains from penetrating. A good protector is like an ‘insurance policy’ that improves the cleanability and stain resistance of your leather. A specialist protector like Leather Hero Protect (No.2) forms a flexible, invisible, breathable barrier that safely repels the factors that degrade leather health.
Storing your leather jacket
How you store your jacket over summer is a key consideration. Follow these simple rules to ensure its preservation during the offseason.
• Clean and condition your jacket before you put away for summer
• Find a cool, dry environment for your jackets slumber. Heat is not good news for leather. Leather expands when exposed to high heat so avoid direct sunlight, exposed light bulbs in your closet or warm air vents. Once a leather coat loses its shape, there’s no way of restoring it back to its former shapely self.
• Store away from damp. Mould spores and mildew just need the right conditions to grow. Store your leather jacket away from humid conditions and chronic damp.
• Cover it with a cotton garment bag. This will ensure your jacket emerges from its hibernation dust free and ready for an outing.
• Hang it using a sturdy wooden or padded coat hanger. Empty the pockets as continuous weight could cause stretching.
Follow these tips when storing your leather jacket and it will be ready to step out in style next time you are.
Repairing and restoring your leather jacket
Accidents happened and time can take its toll on the dyes, pigments and coatings. Small rips can be corrected using a DIY leather repair kit. A good kit contains everything you need to do a pro job; leather surface prep, pigments and conditioner. You’ll amaze yourself when you masterfully conceal small scuffs, holes, rips and stains, effectively turning back time for your favourite leather jacket.
Got a black leather jacket?
Give it a new lease on life with Leather Hero’s Black Jacket Reviver No.16. It’s a unique semi-transparent, easy to use, colour boosting, protective cream for black leather designed with your black leather jacket in mind. It lets you bring back a rich, deep black without adding opacity or shine. You can wipe away years of cosmetic damage and revive the original depth of colour all in one project hour.
Perhaps it’s the robust yet soft shell nature of a leather coat that makes it feel like a really cool ‘’me against the world’’ shield or perhaps it’s just that it’s not fabric that makes a leather jacket so special. But whatever it is, for those of us who love our leather jackets, there’s nothing we’d rather wear.