skip to main content

Looking after your Leather

Caring for Lounge Furniture

Upholstered Furniture gets just as dusty as cabinet furniture - the difference is that you can't always see it. Vacuum or brush weekly to remove the dust and avoid colours becoming dull. Plump the cushions at the end of every day of use, particularly if they are filled with feather or fibre. This extends the life of the fillings and avoids permanent creases being formed. Where possible, turn and reverse the cushions to equalise wear. Like clothing, upholstery will require cleaning from time to time; this is best done by a reputable cleaning company.

Regular, Easy-Care Maintenance

Try to keep pets off the upholstery and be careful of sharp objects such as belt buckles, toys and watch straps snagging the fabric.

  • If a snag does occur, cut off the excess and carefully tuck the end in - do not pull a thread under any circumstances.
  • Discourage lively children from using your new suite as a climbing frame if you want to prolong its lifespan!
  • Use protective arm caps where possible as this is the area most likely to show soiling. Arm caps produced from upholstery fabric should preferably be lined to minimise wear.
  • Reversible seat and back cushions should be turned weekly.
  • Seat, arm and back cushions, including fixed pads, should be regularly plumped up to maintain the shape of your suite.
  • Upholstery can be lightly vacuumed or gently brushed to remove dust, but take care if vacuuming delicate fringe and braid details. Use only a brush, not a vacuum cleaner, on feather or down filled cushions, to avoid pulling feathers out.
  • If you notice creases developing (e.g. in the seat area) take care to smooth them out so they do not become permanent.
  • Sitting on the front edges of cushions or on the arms of furniture may cause distortion or damage.
  • Wood or decorative facings require minimal maintenance, and should be occasionally wiped with a damp cloth to remove dust. Do not use polishes or solvents, which might damage either the facings or the adjoining fabric.
  • Keep sofas away from direct sunlight and also ensure the sofas are not touching walls and skirting boards. Leather, especially Forest Brown, can mark walls due to its waxy coating.

Spills and Cleaning

  • A Textile Cleaning Kit contains products to deal with various emergencies and is a good thing to keep in the house.
  • To avoid damaging your upholstery, if you spill something, act quickly to mop and blot liquid with a clean white cloth.
  • If this is not sufficiently effective, and you decide to risk more drastic action - which could itself cause damage - use a clean cloth to apply water and immediately blot again to draw out the spilt liquid; repeat as necessary. Try to avoid spreading the stain and do not over-wet. Do not use detergents. Do not rub.
  • Always follow your manufacturer's cleaning and care label instructions.
  • Professional cleaning is recommended.
  • Clean all parts of a suite together, as slight colour changes can sometimes occur

Loose Covers

  • Loose covers should be cleaned regularly in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. Some slight shrinkage may occur, even with dry cleaning.
  • When removing and replacing loose covers, pull the fabric panels together to avoid straining the zip fasteners.
  • If washed, replace the covers when just slightly damp to ensure a better fit and minimise creasing. Allow the covers to settle on the furniture for a day or so. Ironing may not be needed but, if this is required, iron the covers on the furniture using a damp cloth.
  • Do not replace covers whilst actually wet, as this could damage the upholstery materials.
  • Tips for re-fitting a cover: Locate the zip fastener. Fit the wing or rear of arm nearest the zip. Fit the arm front. Repeat on the opposite arm fixing. Tuck covers on the inside of the arms and back of the seat. Fit the valance stiffeners where applicable. Close the zip, pulling the outside arm and back covers tightly to remove pressure from the zip itself.

Appreciating and Caring for Leather furniture

Leather is a natural product. It breathes, is warm and has individual characteristics, which makes each hide unique. Leather will always display traces of its origin such as brands, scars, creases and growth. These hallmarks add character to the suite and do not affect the wearing qualities of the product. Leather is highly resilient, durable over time and develops a patina that increasingly enhances its appeal.

Care Tips

  • Always protect your suite from direct sunlight, as this will otherwise accelerate the natural ongoing discolouration process.
  • On pigmented or protected, semi-aniline leather, dust should be removed by vacuuming and followed by wiping with a slightly damp cloth, using a mild soap if there is any indication of grease, followed by buffing with a soft, dry cloth. Excessive wetting or rubbing are to be avoided.
  • Perspiration and natural oils from the skin and hair can have a damaging effect on the finish of leather. The degree of this effect varies from person to person and can change as a result of a change of diet or medication. Cleaning is particularly recommended where hands, bare arms or heads rest on the hide and is likely to be needed a couple of times a week.
  • Leather Protection Cream* should be applied when new and then two to four times a year. Soft Leather Cleaner* should be used prior to the protection cream and more frequently when needed. With any cleaning process, wipe the leather and do not use a rubbing action.
  • Ball point pen remover* can be used to deal with ink marks and is generally successful if action is taken quickly. The ink penetrates more deeply over time and professional assistance is then required.
  • Do not use 'Hide Food' or furniture polish on upholstery leather.
  • Suede, Nubuck and Aniline leathers require particular care, as they lack a protective coating. Use products specifically designed for these types of finish and follow instructions carefully. Always test any cleaning process on an unseen area.
  • Never place leather furniture against any heat source such as a radiator. Keep it at least 30 cm away.
  • To remove spillages, do not rub into the leather as this will cause staining.
  • Liquids should be quickly raised from the leather by using the edge of absorbent paper towels and then dabbing the area lightly with clean towels.
  • Seat, arm and back cushions, including fixed pads, should be regularly plumped up to maintain the shape of your suite.
  • If you notice creases developing (e.g. in the seat area) take care to smooth them out so they do not become permanent.
  • Try to avoid sitting on the edges of cushions or arms, as this may cause uneven wear and distortion of the padding and leather.
  • Where zips are used, these should not normally be unfastened, as they are there for ease of manufacture.
  • Certain non-colourfast clothing such as denim can stain light coloured leather if it comes into regular contact.
  • Sharp objects may scratch the surface.
  • If you need any additional help or advice, feel free to call in or telephone us to speak to one of our advisers. Further information about leather care can also be found on www.leathermasteruk.com
  • Keep sofas away from direct sunlight and also ensure the sofas are not directly touching walls and skirting boards. Leather, especially Forest Brown, can mark walls due to its waxy coating.

Variations and Markings

  • Every hide is different and because the dyes and finishes penetrate to varying degrees in different parts of the hide, an attractive variable finish is achieved with a level of uniformity as consistent as these processes allow. When you consider that it can take as many as eight hides to produce a suite, you can appreciate the skill required to perfect the end result.
  • The natural marks, grain variations and wrinkles which appear on each hide, feature in certain areas of the furniture depending on the degree of marking. Heavier marking will appear on the outside backs and sides, or on areas not usually on view. The more subtle markings will feature on the more prominent parts of the suite.
  • Irregularities in the grain, small scars and insect bites and other natural skin marks should not be considered as defects. Only real leather has these characteristics and they exist as your proof of authenticity.
  • It is perfectly normal for certain areas of leather to show signs of creasing and stretching. This is not detrimental to the wearing of the leather. Today, due to modern tanning processes and customer demand, leather has a much softer feel and will maintain its suppleness throughout its lifetime.
  • A combination of these factors means that in the first few weeks of use, creases and wrinkles will develop naturally to create a softer more inviting look, an inherent quality of fine leather upholstery.

Types of Leather

  • Upholstery leather is normally obtained from the strong, close-textured outer surface of a cow hide, from which the inferior quality 'lower split' has been removed, to leave leather of suitable thickness for upholstery.
  • ANILINE AND SAUVAGE LEATHER This leather made from the most carefully selected hides and is therefore expensive. Dyes are impregnated into the skin and the surface remains natural, with little or no protection. Minor imperfections and variations in shade can be clearly seen. Aniline leather will inevitably become soiled in use.
  • SEMI ANILINE This process is designed to combine the natural feel and appearance of Aniline with a good level of protection. Skins are selected with only slight markings and the dye is impregnated. A light protective coating is then applied to give some degree of resistance to staining; this makes the leather a little stiffer to the touch than Aniline.
  • PIGMENTED LEATHER A layer of pigment is applied to cover most of the natural imperfections which exist in every skin. The grain is then embossed onto the skin and a protective coating is applied, which gives good wear characteristics, high light resistance and consistent colour. It is less soft to the touch than Aniline, but is particularly easy to care for.
  • ANTIQUE LEATHER This has a two part surface pigment process: after the furniture has been made up, part of the top coat is rubbed off by hand to expose the contrast colour underneath, creating the effect of ageing. The top colour continues to wear away in use, enhancing the Antique appearance.
  • PULL-UP LEATHER (also known as waxy or oily leather) has a 'worn' look and will lighten in colour when stretched or scuffed. Natural marks and shade variation can bee seen. The 'lived-in' look increases with use.
  • NUBUCK LEATHER This type of leather is dyed and its surface is buffed to give a soft velvety feel, smoother than suede. Nubuck is not suitable for family use, as it is particularly prone to staining and soiling.
  • BYCAST 'LEATHER' This is made from the lower split, or suede, which is built up with a deep, artificial surface coating. The shiny surface can be damaged by stretching and also scratches quite easily. Leather protection cream should not be used on this man-made surface. (The UK definition of Leather requires that the mean thickness of the surface treatment should be less than 0.15 mm. Under this definition, Bycast should not be described as leather in the UK.)