The Basics of Leather Care

Author:Leon Tuberman

Leather is a very popular furniture material because it\'s very tough. It\'s also very easy to clean, because it can be gently vacuumed and wiped with a damp cloth as you need to. You can do deeper cleaning if you need to with saddle soap or a leather conditioner.

Easy leather care

Here\'s some ways you can keep your leather furniture beautiful without having to work too hard, for many years to come. (Make sure you look at the using care instructions provided for this specific type of leather you purchase, too.)

Normally, you just have to dust with a dry cloth, vacuum crevices, and along the bottom to keep your furniture clean. Use a good leather conditioner every six to 12 months. You should also protect your furniture from direct sunlight and direct light in general. Leather can fade if exposed to the sun, as with many upholstery materials.

How to clean

Before you clean a conspicuous area, try to clean it in a hidden area first to make sure the cleaning product you using will do the job without damage. For minor spills and spots, wipe up any excess liquid immediately with an absorbent and clean cloth or sponge, and if you need to, use a damp, soft cloth (moistened with water only) for slightly more difficult cleaning, then let air dry. Don\'t use soap and don\'t soak the stain with water. This may cause more damage than the stain alone would.

You should also not use furniture polish, cleaning solvents, varnish, oil, detergent, ammonia, or abrasive cleaners.

If the stain itself is grease-based, such as from butter or oil, wipe off the excess for the clean dry cloth, and then leave alone to see if the stain simply disappears into the leather after a short period of time. If it does not, use a professional leather cleaning specialist to clean the leather so that further damage is not done.

If there are slight scratches on the surface, you can use a chamois or your own clean fingers to rub the scratch. You can moisten lightly with distilled water to work the scratches out if you need to.

Because leather is a natural product and requires some care to maintain its natural beauty, make sure you keep on top of the minimal amount of upkeep it should need.

Commercial conditioners are generally best for large pieces like sofas, but you can also use a homemade leather conditioners, such as with the recipe below, for smaller pieces like chair seats or footstools.

Homemade Leather Conditioner

Take a teaspoon of household ammonia and mix it with 4 teaspoons of white vinegar and 2 cups of water. Mix well and then apply texture, dry with a soft cloth, and then apply according of castor oil with another clean, soft cloth. You can also rub on leather shoe cream in the appropriate color and buff well for an extra finish.

Touching up leather

Small scratches shouldn\'t give you much worry, because they often heal over time and become less conspicuous. If you have noticeably deep scratches, you can cover them with a commercial leather dye.

Manufacturers sell touch up kits that come in the same colors as the furniture. Buy one or two kits when you purchase the piece so that you have some on hand in case they discontinue the color later.

If you have several other pieces, label the kits so that you know which furniture each goes with, to avoid confusion. If you don\'t have a touchup kit available or the piece you have is vintage, a leather repair shop or a shoe shop should be able to give you something that\'s a close match.

The basics of suede

Suede is the rough undersurface of leather; it\'s more durable than it looks, and it\'s also quite attractive. However, keep it away from heat and sunlight. If the climate you
live in is particularly dry, make sure the indoor air is not excessively dry, which can damage suede.

Caring for suede

1. Vacuum furniture with a soft brush attachment or use a soft clothes brush.
2. Use only leather cleaners made for suede.
3. Remove small spots with leather cleaners specifically made for suede.
4. Small spots can also be removed with art gum erasers.

Lightening suede

If your suede has darkened over the years (once a paler shade) you can purchase a resin bag from a sporting goods store, put the bag over the suede, and then brush away the excess resin with a suede brush, following with a clothes brush.

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About the Author
Leon Tuberman has been in the furniture business for 40 years. He owns a furniture store in Los Angeles. They offer American made craftsman furniture for your home and office. His store offers furniture that not only looks great, but is built great. It doesn\'t matter if your looking for oak dining table or Morris chair, they carry only the best.

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