How to Care for Leather Furniture: Cleaning, Conditioning & Maintaining Leather
July 26, 2021
Leather furniture is sought after among many homeowners. Its natural look and feel exudes class, luxury, and good taste.
In fact, Zeina Badawi, an interior designer at the La-Z-Boy Kanata location, says that “nothing beats the personality of leather”.
“The character of leather has its own statement that no fabric can replace. Especially as a designer, leather is a fun texture to work with by pairing it with other materials in the house and textures in furniture”, says Zeina.
Although leather furniture can be a significant investment, especially in comparison to fabric upholstery, leather furniture is known for its quality and longevity.
If properly cared for, the natural beauty of leather can be maintained for many years to come, proving the investment worthwhile!
At La-Z-Boy, we have over 90 years of experience furnishing homes. When making an investment in our quality leather upholstery, many of our clients ask us about how to properly clean and maintain their leather furniture.
This article will outline general instructions on how to maintain leather furniture by cleaning and conditioning. Moreover, the article will provide specific recommendations on how to care for La-Z-Boy leather products.
The Benefits of Leather Furniture & (why it is worth caring for …)
Leather upkeep is an ongoing job! To maintain the condition of your leather furniture, it will need your care and attention throughout its entire lifespan.
While this may sound like a lot of work, the benefits of leather furniture make it worth caring for!
So before diving into leather care, cleaning, and maintenance, let’s acknowledge why leather is so great.
Leather is associated with top-of-the-line furniture products. The look, feel, and smell of authentic leather exudes class and luxury.
Leather is tough but flexible allowing it to last about four times longer than fabric upholstery. It naturally resists punctures, tears, and spills.
Leather provides superior comfort as it is soft to the touch and naturally adjusts to body temperature. In fact, as the leather wears and gets broken in with regular use, it only becomes more inviting.
Authentic leather gives off a rich and luxurious appearance. Each piece of leather is unique with its own natural markings, grains, and blemishes.
Leather is a great choice for those who suffer from allergies as leather doesn’t harbour dust mites, pet dander, and other allergens as easily as the fabric does.
Cleanable & Repairable
Finally, and most importantly, leather is easily cleanable and repairable. As you enjoy your furniture with regular use, it is going to be susceptible to wear, tear, and accidents.
A key difference between fabric and leather is that many of the problems that arise in leather are either reversible or solvable.
Leather Care Basics
As you approach leather maintenance, it is important to remember that leather is a natural material.
In fact, leather is very comparable to human skin, and so is the way to care for it!
Just like skin, many problems that arise in leather furniture, such as oil accumulation, dryness, or cracking, can be prevented with proper care.
The keyword here is PREVENTION.
Peter Wason is a professional leather repairman with over 35 years of experience.
Throughout his career, Peter has serviced leather products for many reputable furniture retailers, such as La-Z-Boy. He also has freelance experience repairing leather.
With such extensive experience, Peter has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to leather.
Peter says that proper leather care is much like taking Vitamin C. While Vitamin C can be effective in enhancing our immune system, it doesn’t always protect us from those nasty colds.
Similarly, Peter suggests that regular leather care can help maintain your leather, avoiding common leather problems, but it cannot always guarantee the total longevity of your furniture.
It is also important to keep in mind that not all leather products should be treated the same. Each manufacturer of leather furniture has its own specific recommendations when it comes to cleaning and conditioning its leather products.
Be sure to seek the manufacturer’s specific instructors when caring for your leather products.
With that being said, there are some general guidelines that can be applied to the care of all leather products.
Leather Care Rule of Thumbs
Zeina shares a couple of rules of thumbs when it comes to basic leather care …
- Break it in – Don’t jump the gun by cleaning your new leather furniture too soon. Enjoy it, lay in it, take a nap on it. It is important to let the leather acclimatize to your home and daily use.
- Keep it clean – All leather furniture can benefit from regular dusting, vacuuming, and wiping. Do so about once a month.
- Don’t forget the spaces you cannot see – When you clean and care for leather furniture, it can be easy to neglect areas that are not visible. Be sure to clean the back, the arms, and get into the creases and crevices.
- Tackle spills quickly – Just as with any upholstery, leather can become stained if spills are not cleaned up immediately.
- Avoid direct exposure to sunlight – Although leather is resistant to fading, prolonged direct exposure to the sun will cause any material to fade.
- Keep away from a heat source – It is a good idea to keep your leather furniture at least 12″ away from radiators and other heat sources. Avoiding intense heat will help prevent the leather from drying and possibly cracking.
How to Clean Leather Furniture
Leather can be cleaned with gentle dusting, wiping, and vacuuming
For weekly dusting, use a clean, soft, lint-free cloth slightly dampened with distilled water and wipe the area gently.
When it comes to vacuuming, use a small crevice tool to ensure that you are getting into the seams. This will tidy up any dirt or crumbs left behind on your leather furniture.
Further, regular wiping of your leather furniture is a great way to prevent oil accumulation.
To wipe down your leather furniture, use a clean damp cloth with a homemade cleaning solution. Simply mix ½ distilled water and ½ mild soap, such as Neutrogena, Dove, or Ivory regularly. Gently wipe down the leather and pat dry.
If a spill occurs, it is important to tackle it immediately to avoid a stain. With your homemade cleaning solution, take a clean cloth or sponge to blot, not rub, the spill. Blot the spill until completely dry.
If the spill becomes a stain, some experts recommend using vinegar on leather stains. In contrast, La-Z-Boy still only recommends using a homemade distilled water and mild soap cleaning solution.
For more difficult stains, it is a good idea to contact a professional leather cleaning service.
Conditioning Leather Furniture
Regular conditioning is another common approach to leather care. Many experts have a different approach when it comes to conditioning.
Zeina recommends doing so with the change of seasons. Peter recommends using a conditioning cream on your leather upholstery every 6 months.
As a natural material, authentic leather has a natural balance of oils which creates its shine and softness. What all experts agree on is that leather is just like skin.
Zeina compares leather specifically to your hands. As we wash our hands to frequently, it is a good idea to apply moisturizer occasionally to keep our hands soft, avoiding dryness and cracking.
Similarly, occasionally moisturizing your leather products can help avoid dryness, cracking, and peeling.
To do so, apply a conservative amount of the conditioning cream to a clean cloth, never directly onto the leather. Then take the cloth to the leather in a light, circular motion. Do so piece by piece until you have covered the entire surface of the leather. Wait until the leather is completely dry until you use it.
Be sure not to condition too often as this can marinate and eventually destroy your leather.
In fact, over conditioning leather can completely disintegrate the hide. In this case, it is best not to condition at all rather than over condition.
It is important to clean and condition as individual steps and to stay away from using ‘two in one’ leather care products. Instead, care for your leather in this order: clean, rinse, condition.
A highly rated leather conditioner, offered at La-Z-Boy, is Magiseal.
Further, Peter also recommends Lexol. You can find Lexol at Canadian Tire for $14,99.
In addition to Lexol, there are many good leather conditioning products on the market. Ensure that the conditioner you are using is of good quality and is effective for the specific type of leather that you own.
Leather Upholstery at La-Z-Boy
While many generalizations can be applied to leather care, cleaning, and conditioning, the type of leather is an important factor in how you approach its maintenance.
At La-Z-Boy, we offer three types of leather:
Each type of leather has something unique to offer in grain and texture with a variety of colours and finishes. The main difference between each leather type is how they have been processed for use in the home … and this will ultimately impact how you care for it.
Authentic leather is not altered. Variations in colour, grain, and visible markings (including wrinkles and scars) give each hide its distinct look.
Aniline leather, classed as the highest grade, is primarily used for La-Z-Boy’s authentic leather. Dyed once, the lack of pigmentation means the leather is porous and feels natural. Further, Aniline leather receives only aniline dyes for colour, then dried, softened, and milled; the colour goes through all the layers of the hides. Think of a carrot or blueberries.
All Authentic leather has a protective topcoat that maintains the natural characteristics of the hide. This leather has the least amount of protection and is highly susceptible to watermarks, grease stains, and fading caused by sunlight.
Authentic leather is inherently durable. With proper care, including regular dusting, these leathers become softer and more lustrous over time.
When it comes to damage, such as colour loss or cracking, authentic leather can be more difficult to return to its original condition. With this, you may consider paying extra attention to the wiping and conditioning of this type of leather.
Nubuck leather is a top-grain leather that is slightly buffed or sanded to resemble soft suede. It is infused with pure, transparent dyes, giving it subtle variations in colour. The dyes do not mask the natural character of the hide allowing its wrinkles and scars to shine through. This results in unique beauty.
However, Nubuck is less thick than authentic leather and is more susceptible to fading and oil damage. That is why it is extra important to keep this type of leather out of direct sunlight and away from a heat source. Further, being consistent with regular wiping and cleaning will help prevent oil damage.
For a deeper cleaning of Nubuck leather, use a clean white cloth, dampened with distilled water. Allow to air dry thoroughly. Use a stiff sponge or Nubuck Cloth to bring back the softness. Repeat this process as needed.
Performance leather is a top grain hide that has been buffed or sanded and may have a corrective process applied, such as embossing. This results in consistency in the grain and colouration.
Additionally, the surface is sprayed or rubbed with a protective topcoat with colour in it. This pigmentation allows the leather to better withstand everyday wear.
In contrast to Aniline leather, La-Z-Boy’s Performance leather (semi-aniline leathers) are dyed twice. The first dye is the aniline process. The second dye is the pigmented or “painted” process. Dyes are sprayed on the surface for a consistent line of colour. There are minimal variations and pieces are better matched. A topcoat is added for protection. Think of radish or apple.
While dusting and the occasional wiping are still important, this type of leather requires slightly less attention in its upkeep.
Caring for La-Z-Boy Leather Products
While there are many approaches to caring for leather, at La-Z-Boy we recommend keeping it simple.
According to La-Z-Boy experts, dusting, vacuuming, and wiping with a distilled water and soap solution can go a long way in maintaining the natural beauty of your leather furniture.
When it comes to conditioning, we do not recommend nor advise against it. While conditioning can have positive effects on leather longevity, over conditioning can also cause problems. There is no guarantee that conditioning will work in an effective way, and for this reason, La-Z-Boy leaves this decision up to the client’s discretion.
For more information on the treatment of La-Z-Boy manufactured leather products, take a look at our webpage on Fabric and Leather Care. You may also find some helpful information in the article 2021 Furniture Care Tips.
With detailed instructions on leather care and maintenance, you are now well equipped to be a loving owner of your own leather furniture.
At La-Z-Boy, we have no shortage of beautiful, quality, and comfortable leather upholstery products to choose from. Take a look at our top-selling products, all of which can be customized in your choice of leather.
- 5 Best Selling La-Z-Boy Recliners in Ottawa/Kingston
- 5 Best Selling La-Z-Boy Sofas in Ottawa/Kingston
- 5 Best Selling La-Z-Boy Sectionals in Ottawa/Kingston
Our consultants at La-Z-Boy Ottawa and Kingston are skilled at helping you find the perfect leather furniture that will suit your needs, preferences, and style.
Further, if you take advantage of our complimentary interior design services at La-Z-Boy, our team of interior designers can help assure that the furniture you choose fits seamlessly with your space and current home decor.
We look forward to helping you find your ideal piece of leather furniture that will be worth maintaining for years to come!