Before and after of cleaned leather sofa
Leather is one of the most durable materials in terms of fabrics for furniture and clothing. Known for being a staple of high class accommodations, leather tends to develop a gorgeous patina with the passing of time. As such an investment in leather tends to be an investment toward the future. However, because leather is formed from an organic material it requires more care than other types of fabrics.
Depending on the particular type of leather it can be especially prone to staining and/or damage. The idea is to look after your leather furniture/clothing as though it were still skin – therefore cleaning away dirt, proper conditioning, and making sure to immediately deal with spills or stains is of immense importance. Taking care to do so will protect the investment you’ve made toward your home, car and wardrobe. The best way to protect your investments is by cleaning them and leather cleaners are one of the most effective ways of cleaning leather.
What is a Leather Cleaner?
Leather is skin and just like our skin leather needs to be cleaned as well. However, unlike our skin, leather cannot be cleaned with water. Which is why experts have developed leather cleaners so that leather can be cleaned safely and effectively without being damaged. Leather cleaners are basic leather care products that have been carefully designed to clean dirt and remove stains off leather without the harsh damaging effects. As well as to open pores and prepare the leather to be conditioned with a leather conditioner.
Leather conditioners should always be used after leather cleaners because they are meant to restore back lost oils which can be lost through the cleaning process. So as you can see a leather cleaner is a cleaning agent made for the purpose of cleaning leather. Leather products such as jackets, shoes, wallets and even leather car seats.
Why is Cleaning Leather So Important?
Before you begin choosing the right leather cleaner for your leather, there are some things that need to be addressed – such as: what happens when you don’t clean your leather? The thing is… not all leather is made equal. However, there are some very common concern
For instance, neglecting to maintain your finished leather can lead to it’s top coat cracking and the leather drying out. This is because generally this type of leather has a deeper cut of grain, and that acts a trap for grunge like body oil or dirt. This build up eventually eats away at the leather unless it is removed with a brush and a good quality leather cleaner. Unfinished leather lacks a top coat to crack, but it tends to fade, wear, and stain at a more advanced rate. Because it’s unprotected any stains that aren’t immediately intended can become permanent.
That said, as long as regular maintenance with a good conditioner is done in concert with general cleaning, everything should be fine. And the end result of this is that you’ll retain a beautiful piece of leather for a lifetime. In fact when given regular cleanings leather tends to present a better color and overall look. Even something as simple as wiping down your product with a damp cloth once a week can yield wonders. Proper care also works to improve durability, and overall comfort. That said – different grades of leather or going to need different levels of care.
Precautions to take before cleaning leather
Before cleaning your leather product take some time to find out about the type of leather it is to avoid any mishaps. Here are some precautions that you must take before cleaning leather:
Before you get started with the cleaning process test a small, obscure part of the leather with the cleaning product. If the product damages the leather in any way, stop its use immediately.
Read the tags
Most leather manufacturers will have tags attached to the leather which mentions specific instructions on how to use the product including how you need to clean it. For example certain kinds of leather require a particular cleaner, while some can only be cleaned professionally.
Carefully examine the leather type
Ideally, you should take note of the type of leather when you buy the product. However, if you have not done so, you can talk to the manufacturer and find out the correct information. There are different types of leather like suede, nubuck or full-grain, each having its own unique features and cleaning techniques.
How to Determine if You have Finished or Unfinished Leather?
Before you purchase a leather cleaner for your leather you need to figure out what type of leather your product is made out of. In general leather tends to fall into two categories: finished and unfinished. The difference between the two is that finished leather is coated and protected.
It tends to be less permeable to stains, and will generally be cheaper to purchase. Unfinished leather is left “raw” meaning that it lacks that protection in exchange for a better look or presentation. So it is more vulnerable to stains and cuts and other damages, while also being more attractive. Generally unfinished leather products are going to be more expensive to purchase. So how will you know what kind you have?
How to Tell?
If you have any scars or markings on your leather product then it’s most likely unfinished because finished leather has layers of top coat that cover the natural markings of the animal hide. If you run your fingernail over your leather and leaves a mark, then you most likely you have unfinished leather since finished leather will not scratch that easily and will not leave a mark. Lastly if you drop small amount of water on the leather and it leaves a dark patch then you definitely have unfinished leather because if you apply water on to finished leather the leather will not absorb the water and instead the water will sit on the leather surface. Make sure to perform all these tests in a hidden area of the leather.
Can I use a Leather Cleaner On Finished Leather?
Yes all leather cleaners found on the market can be used to clean finished leather. Any leather described as top grain, corrected top grain, full grain, split, or bicast is considered finished leather.
Can I use a Leather Cleaner On Unfinished Leather?
Yes you can use a leather cleaner on unfinished leather however only leather cleaners that are specifically designed for it. Any leather described as aniline, semi aniline, raw leather, pull up, suede or nubuck is considered unfinished leather.
How to use a Leather Cleaner
” Leather Cleaner
” Horse hair brush
” Microfiber cleaning cloths
” Leather Conditioner
Step by Step Instructions on How to Use a Leather Cleaner
- Once you found a leather cleaner for your leather it’s time to start cleaning it.
- The first thing to do is to find an inconspicuous spot to test the leather cleaner.
- After reading the instructions begin by either spraying or applying the cleaner to one small spot at a time.
- Using a horse hair brush or a microfiber cloth gently rub in circular motions.
- Then wipe away the foamy residue from the cleaner with a dry microfiber cloth.
- Grab another dry microfiber cloth apply some leather conditioner on to it.
- Then gently rub the microfiber cloth on the leather in circular motions make sure you have tested the leather conditioner in an inconspicuous spot before applying it.
Top Leather Cleaner Reviews
One of the most difficult tasks about cleaning leather is finding the right leather cleaner for your leather. Which is why we have outlined some of the top leather cleaners in the market down below.
Leather Honey Leather Cleaner
Leather Honey Leather Cleaner is an all-around well-priced product suitable for a lot of different purposes — as long as you’re cleaning leather this product will work. It’s safe to use all types of finished and unfinished leather but it’s important to spot test first.
The only types of leather this cleaner is not recommended for is suede, vinyl or faux leather. Aside from that, this cleaner is a bit more expensive than some other similar products, but you’re paying for an American-made cleaner, so it’s worth the extra money. You also have to mix it yourself, but that’s because it’s a concentrated leather cleaner so a bottle actually lasts longer than a premixed type. It’s also very thick so it does take work to massage it into the leather, but it’s worth the extra effort. Leather Honey Leather Cleaner, check it out, you never know it might just be what you’ve been looking for.
Lexol Leather Cleaner
Lexol Leather cleaner is a particularly good product because it’s pH balanced — that’s not something you see in every cleaner!
It isn’t for all purposes, however. It does a great job cleaning up small amounts of dirt and stains but isn’t quite heavy duty enough for major cleanups.
You also can’t use it on suede, nubuck or other delicate unfinished leather. So stick with using it on leather products made out of finished leather and leather items that need a basic cleansing for the best results.
Leather Nova Leather Cleaner
Leather Nova Leather Cleaner can be used on all kinds of items, some that aren’t even leather — it cleans up vinyl and plastic really well, too. However, it’s not recommended for suede or nubuck.
It’s as simple as spraying and wiping so it’s easy to use. Since it is a spray meaning a more thin or liquidity solution, it will take more than one application to get the job done. It even comes with a microfiber towel which is perfect because it can’t scratch up furniture or clothing like a dish cloth or rough cloth would. Leather shoes and car interiors can get quite pricey so treating these purchases with care makes sense!
Lastly make sure to clean your leather at least 1-3 times a year to keep it in top condition. However, if the leather is exposed to dirt and stains more often than you might need to clean more frequently. But just remember whenever you use a leather cleaner you need to use a leather conditioner right after so you’re leather continues to remain soft and supple. Another thing to remember is because leather is an animal hide, and is not entirely waterproof if your leather is exposed to water often it needs to be protected by a leather protectant spray to make it little less susceptible to water damage.