a modern white leather sofa in a white room

Buying furniture made of leather for your home is a great decision, given the fact that leather is one of the most durable and easy to maintain materials out there. When you add to this it’s signature sleek and smooth appearance, it is no surprise leather is never out of style. Although choosing leather furniture is not among the most budget-friendly home improvements you can implement, leather can last for ages with proper maintenance. So, if you are interested in finding out how to clean and take care of your leather furniture, this is the right article for you.

Luckily, it is relatively easy to clean leather if you follow the right steps. However, different kinds of leather have different cleaning procedures, which means you first have to find out what type of leather you are dealing with. You should be able to find this out by checking the label on the leather upholstery you have.

The label typically delineates the materials that the item of furniture is made of and, occasionally, even instructions for proper care. If you cannot find or read the label, try looking at the manufacturer’s website.

What kinds of leather are out there?

In case you couldn’t find the label or product information online, we will give you a few
pointers that should help you determine it yourself. So, without further ado, let's talk about
leather and all the right ways you can clean your leather furniture!

Unprotected leather

If the leather feels soft and luxurious when you touch it, your furniture is made of unprotected
or aniline leather. It got its name after aniline dye, a coat of paint used to dye this type of leather. However, aniline leather can be easily recognized because it does not have a surface pigment color added over aniline dye. This also means that furniture made of this leather is unprotected in that it has no protective coating except, in some cases, a layer that repels dirt.

Since it is somewhat raw, you can see natural grains and markings on this kind of leather.
Aniline leather is significantly more fragile compared to protected leather, also making it
more expensive. If you are apprehensive about cleaning unprotected leather yourself, skip
the DIY action and call in a handyman specialized in leather furniture.

a brown couch in a well-lit room

Aniline leather looks amazing, but is difficult to keep intact.

Protected leather

Since it is cheaper than its unprotected counterpart, most leather furniture on the market is made of protected (or finished) leather. Other terms that are used for labeling this leather are semi-aniline, aniline with pigment, or pigmented leather. Since it has protective layers, it is much more durable than aniline leather. Other characteristics that can help you distinguish this type of leather from aniline are its resistance to stains and uniform appearance.

So, semi-aniline leather has a layer of pigment over a layer of aniline dye. It is also soft to the touch, just like aniline leather. However, thanks to the pigmented layer, it is slightly more durable. Different kinds of protected leather may have thicker coats of pigmented
paint or even a polymer layer added for protection. They are also fairly stiff when you touch them, which, naturally, makes them less prone to becoming worn down and stained over the years.

a patch of red protected leather

Protected leather is pigmented and durable.

How to clean and take care of your leather furniture?

Essentially, it is best if you dodge using home potions. Leather upholstery is tricky to clean, so we recommend you keep it simple and find a local handyman who will do the job professionally. Although you might have found a piece of Internet advice recommending vinegar, mayonnaise, or any other condiment as a means to remove stains off your leather furniture, in most cases, it is best if you steer clear of these improvised recipes. It would be a shame if you ruined your leather furniture with a hair-care product or something similar.

Use only proven leather cleaning products to clean your leather upholstery.

a modern orange leather sofa

Use only proven leather cleaning products to clean your leather upholstery.

Of course, if you are determined to have your furniture spick and span and ready for your new home, it is understandable that you are eager to clean it as soon as possible. Whether you decide to do it yourself or hire an expert cleaner, you don't want to risk injury by moving it yourself. Don't hesitate to call your local movers; asking Toronto-based experts to help out with the heavy lifting is always an excellent decision.

Whatever you decide to do, just remember not to use any products that are not recommended by the tanneries. We will discuss some methods and materials proven to be safe to use for cleaning your leather upholstery.

Cleaning materials you can use to clean and take care of your leather furniture

Here we will describe the general procedure for cleaning leather furniture. Find details about
different treatments for different types of leather below.

1. First, you will want to remove excess dirt and dust by vacuuming with a brush
2. Take a clean cotton or microfiber cloth
3. Use distilled water, pH-neutral liquid soap (e.g., Dove), or a commercial leather
4. (Optional) use a commercial leather conditioner

How to clean unprotected leather

Some furniture manufacturers advise against cleaning your aniline leather upholstery if it involves more than dusting with a dry cloth or vacuuming with a brush attachment. Other furniture makers allow gentle wiping of the surface with a cloth that can be a little bit wet. Use either with distilled water or a recommended commercial leather cleaner. Since the leather's natural look is so sensitive to any type of contact, be very careful when you clean unprotected leather.

How to clean protected leather

As we mentioned, semi-aniline and pigmented leather are generally able to withhold more potent cleaning products. However, steer clear of cleaning products that contain ammonia or alkalies since these substances can seriously damage the leather upholstery. Also, do not use saddle soap, furniture polishes, detergents, and cleaning products with acidic ingredients to clean and take care of your leather furniture.

Article Written By: Mary Aspen Richardson