Cleaning leather, whether it’s a leather sofa or leather upholstery is a very specialised procedure. That’s why great care has to be taken to avoid damaging the delicate material. Many commercial cleaners claim to be able to clean any stain or blemish off leather furniture but may actually do more harm than good.
Why is leather such a specialised procedure?
Because leather is a natural material, it has to be coloured and possibly sealed to be used commercially. This staining process will tint the leather a specific colour. The leather used for a sofa is normally coloured in the same group to ensure consistency of shade. Even with this staining process being done with the same coloured stain, at the same time, on all of the leather pieces. There will still be a normal variance in colour based on how the particular section of leather absorbs the stain.
What’s the difference between sealed and unfinished?
Once this stain is applied and allowed to dry, the leather is then either used as a natural material. Or is sealed to help retain the colour over time and protect it from damage. If the leather is left in its natural state, it is called unfinished leather. If it is sealed, it is called finished leather. Consequently, both of these methods need to be cleaned in a different way.
Why use a leather conditioner?
The sealing process will actually create a barrier between the leather itself and any outside contaminants. This seal is intended to be on the surface of the leather for its entire life. If the sealant is removed the leather can become worn very quickly and damaged. Over time this sealant will wear down.
Therefore, one of the main ways you can continue to keep your leather looking great is by applying a leather conditioner to the surface of your furniture on a regular basis.
Tips for cleaning finished leather
- The best way to clean a finished leather product is with a commercial leather cleaning kit. These kits typically contain a cleaner, polishing cloth and a leather conditioner.
- Many people will try to clean leather with water and a mild soap solution. While this may work for many types of finished leather. You should test it first in an inconspicuous area to be sure it won’t stain or damage the leather.
- If you do use water and a soap solution, be sure it is a mild liquid soap. And try to remove it from the surface of the leather as quickly as possible to avoid water stains. You should only use a soft brush to agitate the solution on the surface of the leather. Working on a small section of the leather at a time.
- Once you are done with the cleaning, be sure to let the surface air dry for a day before applying the leather conditioner. This is to ensure that you don’t seal any of the moisture from the cleaning process into the leather that may later develop into a stain.
The best approach would be to use the commercial leather cleaning kit as mentioned above. These kits are specifically designed to protect the leather during the cleaning process. The cleaning solution is not water-based and is more suitable for a wider range of leather products.
You still need to be careful about applying too much liquid to the surface. But the cleaning solution is better suited to avoid staining the leather.
Tips for cleaning unfinished leather
- Cleaning unfinished leather is another matter and requires using a solution like saddle soap.
- Because of the natural state of the leather, extreme care should be taken to not scrub too hard, as damage may occur.
- There are also commercial cleaning kits available for unfinished leather.
- They will include the proper cleaning solution that is gentle on the leather.
- As well as a cleaning brush and sealing oil that can be applied after the cleaning is done to seal the unfinished leather against further staining and damage.
Get a leather & upholstery cleaner
The safest option is to have a professional leather & upholstery cleaning company do your leather cleaning for you.
Most often a professional carpet cleaning company will be skilled at cleaning leather and can do this as part of a carpet cleaning job.
Not only do they have specialised equipment and cleaning solutions but they can apply professional sealants and conditioner to restore the leather to its original appearance and texture.
Using a professional for your leather & upholstery needs will ensure that your leather furniture will look and feel like new for a long time.