There are basically three types of leather used for upholstery; pigmented, analine, and nubuck (suede). In reality, 90-95% of leather upholstery is pigmented because it is so easy to maintain. This is the type of leather you find in homes as well as cars.
Basic tips for any leather type:
- Remember your dealing with skin or cowhide, so act like your cleaning your skin!
- Keep the piece from fading, drying out and/or cracking. Do not place it in direct sunlight and keep it at least two feet away from any heat (i.e. heating vents, fireplaces, radiators, etc.) and air conditioning sources.
- NEVER use baby wipes or any other alkaline cleaner (pH >7) on your leather furniture as it may damage the finish. Use a pH neutral (pH 7) to clean, like warm water.
- After cleaning be certain to condition (replenish the moisture/oil) as well as protect (easier cleaning and stain guarding) your leather furniture. This simple process should be done every 6-12 months.
- Suede leather is the most delicate, so cleaning and maintenance should be gentle and frequent (6 months). Dust suede regularly with a dry, microfiber to ward off discoloration, and use a suede brush to keep the nap looking fresh. Prevention is critical; protect suede from stains and water damage by applying a proper suede protector.
- Many times what looks like soiling on leather is actually cracking, color loss, scratching or staining of the leather. A leather repair professional will touch up those cracks, scrapes, ink marks, stains, and other discoloration or fading areas. Cleaning is always the first step in these repairs, and hopefully your problem will go away with just the basics. Keep your cost under control and clean, condition and protect on a regular basis.
These tips can be applied to all leathers, but keep in mind pigmented leathers allow greater cleaning aggressiveness, whereas the analines and suedes are better off with professional care.
Maybe you weren’t ever told you should clean your leather routinely. Maybe it just isn’t something you’ve had the time to do. Maybe your leather sits in a room with a fireplace and gathers soot, Whatever the reason, if you leather gets noticeably dirty, a leather professional may be a better choice to get it clean.