How Do You Care For Leather?
You would think it’s a simple thing to do!
There are so many different leather types and each one requires a different process to clean them correctly without causing any issues.
Suede, Nubuck, Crust, Veg Tanned Leathers and Aniline Leather are all very absorbent leathers. Semi Aniline is a very fragile leather but not as absorbent as the above as it’s aniline dyed through and then a top-coat applied with a small amount of pigment colour included.
Before you start any cleaning process, ensure the leather item, if a chair or car seat is vacuumed off thoroughly with a very soft brush attachment to remove all particles of dust and dirt, as these can scratch the surface when using leather brushes to clean the leather.
Brucle Leather Cleaning Brush
Suede and Nubuck are very different to clean compared to Aniline, Crust and Veg Tanned. Suede and Nubuck require a dedicated cleaning solution that is made just for them, along with suede rubbers and erasers as well as soft brass brushes.
Aniline, Crust, Semi Aniline and Veg Tanned Leathers require a dedicated aniline leather cleaner, cleaning these are very different to cleaning pigmented leather. When cleaning any of these leather types the full area has to be cleaned you can not carry out spot cleaning as it will most likely cause a tide mark to appear, you could put the aniline leather cleaner into a foam bottle to create a foam to clean with and very gently use a leather brush called a Brucle Brush to agitate the surface.
You can also use your hands on veg tanned, crust and aniline. You can massage the foam cleaner into these leathers, making sure they are fully wet and allow them to dry naturally. NEVER force dry them as this can result in more stains appearing on the surface, also clean seam to seam fully.
Pigmented leather is a great deal easier to work with, you can give pigmented leather a good scrub with a Brucle Brush without fear of causing damage. Never use a magic eraser or APC to clean leather of any form as these are abrasive and caustic products that will remove the clear top coat this can’t be seen to the naked eye, but one way you can tell if this has been removed is the surface will feel sticky when cleaning.
This diagram shows how the leathers are made up with the different layers and coatings.
This video will help with leather cleaning of sofas and car seats.
Leather must cleaned and protected at least four times per year, to make this easy it’s best to clean and protect at the start of each season.
There are many different types of protection products that can be applied along with softening cremes to soften leather.
It’s a complete myth that modern leathers should not be protected. Modern leather is very fragile compared to leather from the 1990 period backwards. Leathers today are dyed and then binder paints are applied with a clear top-coat, these products are all water based and are not as strong as solvent based chemicals, but solvents can’t be used today due to the impact it has on the environment.
Aniline can have different products applied to them to help prevent stain and dirt build up. There are specialist aniline protection products that can be applied by spray bottle application. Aniline can also have protection creams applied these will help repel stains and liquids like the aniline protection spray will but have the added advantage of putting softness back into the leather hide.
To avoid jean dye build up from indigo dye transfer from clothing to your leather it’s best to apply a product like a stain barrier that has a more permanent coating molecule structure to it.