How to Care for
Leather

When you’ve narrowed down your choice to the perfect leather for you, you want to protect your investment. Knowing how to care for leather is important for maintaining the life of your furniture, but where to start? As leather comes in a variety of dyeing processes and finishes, the right treatment for nubuck will be different from caring for protected aniline leather. Read on to consider what type of leather you have and the best care for it.

You can save yourself a bit of trouble by choosing a leather that works best for your life. Call our experts for more information about which leathers suit your home and use at 
(704) 892-6680. You can also schedule a consultation.


Types of Leather

Step away from the leather conditioner, my friend. It’s not a fix-all, and it doesn’t go on everything! You cannot begin to repair leather scratches or clean leather without first understanding the type of leather sofa you bought at COCOCO. Have you spoken with your design associate? You will need to consider how the leather was made to be treated. If you cannot remember the leather name from your work order, call us and we’ll look it up for you.

Full-Grain Leather : Aniline leathers usually contain a wax finish that will self-heal with a bit of buffing. These may be called “pure aniline.” This includes pull-up leathers that are treated with oils and waxes, as well as nubuck leathers, which are distressed and buffed for a velvety softness that goes beyond suede. Examples of full-grain, aniline plus (protected) leather include Mont Blanc, Berkshire, Eastwood, and Brentwood. Check out the video of one of our top-selling leathers, Mont Blanc, above.

Unprotected aniline is sensitive to staining but has a smooth, luxurious hand to it. Examples: Symphony, Valhalla, Windsor.

Suedes or Nubuck Leather : Leathers such as Storm or Burnham by Moore & Giles contain a tiny bit of wax to help repel liquid but overall are fairly unprotected. But these are a natural material that will patina, burnish and blend out over time. Be patient and you will likely see most marks blend and disappear.

Performance Leather : Aniline protected leather is stain-resistant, and more uniform in appearance than pure aniline. This is a great choice for families or those with animals that like to jump up on furniture. These leathers may be called semi-aniline, aniline plus pigment, or pigmented leather. Performance leathers are resistant to scratching but will not self-heal if a deep scratch gets into the surface. Basically, these leathers will maintain their appearance and will not patina. See examples of performance leathers we offer:

  • Crest Leather
    • Williamsburg
    • Saloon
    • Dante
    • Bronx
  • Carroll Leather
    • Run Wyld
    • Road Warrior
    • Child’s Play
    • Ever-Last
    • Myriad
    • Cheyenne
  • Cortina
    • Florence
Semi-Aniline Leather : These leathers are aniline-dyed and topped with a layer of pigment color. It has a soft feel like pure aniline leather but is a little more durable due to the protective pigment coating. Other protected leathers are coated with thicker layers of pigment and polymer. They have a stiffer feel and stand up to more wear and tear.

What an improvement, right? This before-and-after image of repairing a leather scratch shows the value of owning a leather piece. It’s nearly indestructible. At times our technicians at COCOCO must deal with scratches that come from moving furniture around, similar to what you might encounter in your home. The before-and-after photos of the arm of a scratched untufted Arden show how easy it is to restore surface marks on quality leather. With a heat gun blast and a bit of buffing, it blended right out.

Cleaning Leather 101

Start with dusting

Leather upholstery requires very little upkeep, but give the piece a wipe-down before doing anything else. Start by using a soft brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner to pick up dust in the cracks and corners. Then wipe the leather with a clean, dry lint-free cloth (microfiber is great for holding on to dust) to get the rest of the particles off.

When do I need to condition my leather?

We’ll let you in on a little secret when it comes to leather care: Less is more. Customers will sometimes call the day their furniture arrives to ask what they should put on it. The answer is usually: “Your butt.”

All jokes aside, there is actually no need to condition your leather furniture when it arrives! Most leather sofas have already been conditioned to last and the heat from a simple rub with your fingers will activate the wax on the leather to buff out light surface marks. In most cases, small nicks and marks can be taken care of with a little elbow grease, a magic leather cloth (to be included on all Moore & Giles orders in 2020), and maybe a tiny bit of No. 33 Conditioner. If the mark persists, consider lightly going over it with a heat gun or even a hairdryer (on low setting, 6 – 10 inches away from the leather). Most leathers will darken slightly where you hit it with the heat gun, then you can buff it again to blend. Keep in mind that leather conditioners will often darken leather after application. This will dissipate over time, more so in areas that are being sat on. You may want to test first on an inconspicuous area of the couch to see how the leather reacts to the conditioner. More often than not, it will darken a bit.

Set up your furniture for a long life by placing leather pieces away from direct sunlight or next to vents and heat sources. These scenarios speed up the drying out of the leather, as well as cause fading. Remember, leather is still skin and should be protected from UV damage. If you notice spots that appear dry or cracked, then you will want to conservatively condition that area, adding only as needed and watching to see it absorb (over-conditioning will cause tackiness and a sheer film to remain). Thin, even layers are best, and you may need time in between layers.

However, some leathers already have a more matte or dry appearance when you first receive them. Leathers such as Burnham, Storm, Cambridge, Winchester, Old Attic (or Telluride), Berkshire, and Brentwood begin as more of a matte look. If a dry look is characteristic then you may not want to condition. Ever.

 

HOW CAN I TREAT LEATHER STAINS?

We love this guide by our partners Moore & Giles Leathers for a one-page reference on leather care. We recommend bookmarking this page

 

For most stains, start with blotting a lightly damp cloth with warm water to lift and remove it. Something more stubborn? The experts in leather care at Moore & Giles recommend “a simple soap and water solution to spot clean.”

  1. Blot off any excess of the stain immediately with a clean, white cloth to absorb all moisture. Do not rub (rubbing will spread the liquid into the leather). 
  2. Don’t use abrasive or strong cleaning agents. Instead, mix three parts water (tap or distilled) with one part mild soap, such as Ivory or Dawn dish soap.
  3. Get a new, clean white cloth and dip a corner into the soap and water solution. 
  4. Dab the damp cloth on the stain, then blot out the moisture with fresh sections of the cloth. 
  5. Repeat as necessary and allow to dry. 

Leather stains tend to look scary on the day of “the incident” but given time, a stain will blend through the hide’s protein fibers and become less noticeable.

If you are still having trouble, feel free to give us a call at +1 (704) 892-6680 for some guidance on difficult stains and marks.

WORST CASE SCENARIOS

Tried your hardest with a stubborn stain, gash, or puncture? Don’t panic just yet. Give us a call or fill out the form below! In many cases, leather sofa panels and cushions can be replaced, rather than the entire couch. That’s the beauty of working with a custom furniture company like COCOCO Home right here in the United States. We believe that when furniture is made right, it can – and should – last a long time. 

 

HELP! HOW CAN I REPAIR A LEATHER SCRATCH?

Most surface marks will blend in over time with continued use, but if your sofa’s leather scratch is on a low-traffic area like the back, arms or top, you may want take further steps. Not to worry. Watch this video by Moore & Giles on removing scratches and restoring aniline leather. 

WHAT ABOUT SEMI-ANILINE? 

Semi-anilines, protected leathers, and pigmented leathers, are all made to withstand surface scratches. We like to say semi-anilines are almost frozen in time. Semi-aniline leathers will not change or age or patina like an aniline leather will. It is made to look more uniform in color, without natural markings inherent to the hide. You won’t see the fat lines or scars or bug bite marks that are contained in the life of an aniline hide, and you won’t see the “pull” or burst of color that you get with an aniline hide. 

With most leathers, including semi-aniline, the most important thing is to keep your leather free of dust. So make sure you are dusting regularly, by either vacuuming your semi-aniline leather sofa, or wiping down with a damp cloth. It is important to remember that while semi-anilines and other protected leathers prevent surface marks that may come from a dog’s nails, it will not prevent gashes or deeper marks. Once the finish is removed on an area from a deep scratch, this cannot be repaired on a semi-aniline furniture piece. This is one of the reasons why we simply love aniline leather, as it is more flexible in the long-term, and can be restored, as shown in the Moore & Giles video above. 

Whichever leather you choose, be sure to ask questions of showroom associates or call us for better understanding of how to care for your new leather sofa from COCOCO. 

Eileen Graham

Design Associate
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Cornelius Showroom
North Carolina

Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Charlotte, our Cornelius showroom is worth the drive. Come see our latest collections in a beautifully restored cotton mill. Look through hundreds of leathers and fabrics and work with our dedicated team to get the details “just right”.

Exterior of COCOCO Home Charlotte
19725 Oak St #5
Cornelius, NC 28031
+1 (704) 892-6680
[email protected]
For appointments during off hours please contact
[email protected]
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