We Do Leather Cleaning & Conditioning
After years of use, your leather furniture can become stiff, soiled, stained, faded and show scratches from use. Despite this appearance, the leather beneath may be in good condition with many more years of useful life. Our experts thoroughly clean your leather upholstery to remove soil, apply a matching color to make scratches less noticeable, and perform a thorough conditioning of the leather to prevent cracking and restore its appearance.
Leather used for furnishings will typically be categorized as Protected or Unprotected leather.
All leather used for furniture is dyed (typically using an aniline dye) before final finishing processes are completed. Hides that show the least color variation will be used as is, and hides with more variation will be coated with a surface color to make for a more even appearance. The color coat and protective clear coat become the “protection” of protected leather. Most light soil can be wiped away using a damp cloth, and if the leather is regularly conditioned it will last until the color coat is worn through.
Unprotected leather (also called aniline or naked leather) is usually used for the highest quality (and most expensive) leather furnishings. The variations in color and shading present a richness that many people consider the real beauty of leather furniture. Unprotected leather may have a treatment that changes the look and feel without using a clear topcoating. An oil may be applied to darken the leather and make it look older, a wax may be applied that will also give the leather a more “lived in” look, or the leather may be sanded to give it a nap; known as nubuck. The nubuck may also have an oil or wax treatment applied.
Unprotected leather is more care-sensitive than protected leather, being more prone to staining and fading, In most cases a proper cleaning and conditioning can restore color and minimize the effects of staining.
One concern is that unprotected leather can be permanently damaged by the use of many over the counter leather cleaning products that contain silicone. Silicone will prevent leather from absorbing conditioner and will also prevent color from returning to surface during the cleaning and conditioning process.
Furniture makers will always try to match the colors of hides as closely as possible, but if they find a finished piece of furniture doesn’t look the way they’d like, they may apply a light coat of color to hide the greatest variations but still leave some of the character of unprotected leather. This treatment may be sold using the terms semi-protected or semi-aniline leather.
There are also many hides that may be used in addition to cowhide, and a great number of treatments that can be used for special effects. Many of these are meant to be seen and not used, so by the time they show wear or soil they may need replacement. Our service representatives are always available to look at your leather and let you know what options are available for your furnishings.
Frequently asked questions about leather:
– I have a “bonded” leather chair. What does bonded mean?
Bonded leather is a hybrid product made in much the same way that sawdust is made into particle board. Leather scraps are chopped into fine particles and “bonded” with a polymer to creat a semi-plastic, semi-leather product that looks and smells like leather. Qualities and lifespan vary.
– My sofa cushions look like suede in some areas. Can you fix that?
Once the top grain of the leather is worn through there isn’t anything that cleaning can do to repair it. It may be possible for an upholstery shop to replace the worn areas if a suitable color match can be found.
– The color is worn off of the arms on my husband’s favorite chair. Will your color repair fix that?
The color we can rub into cracks and scratches is not durable when used for surface color repair. We’ve found that getting a good color match with a custom mix of leather paint is not possible, so if the color coat is worn through it is usually best to repaint the entire piece of furniture. Often the better option is to have an upholstery shop replace the worn areas if the rest of the chair is in good shape.
About the chair.
This chair is covered in an unprotected leather showing heavy use. It had soiling on the arms and few small stains from spills. It shows some color loss due to plenty of sun exposure and originally had a light wax finish that shows a lot of pet scratches
We could see that the leather, although dry and stiff, was in good condition. Cleaning removed surface soil and some light hand oil but the stains remained. Conditioning replenished moisture and softened the leather. This also worked to bring more of the original color to the surface and make the stains less noticeable. A light application of natural beeswax restored the original soft sheen.
A beautiful chair that retains both the character of natural leather and some of the history of use.