How to keep your leather furniture safe
Leather furniture makes for a beautiful addition and adds a touch of class to any room, but it takes a little more loving care than fabric furniture. Over time, your leather furniture won't look the same as it does today. That's part of the leather's unique appeal. Leather ages beautifully, each product taking on its own patina (a deep, natural lustre).
So, what kind of maintenance does leather furniture demand? Does it require any special products? Any special technique of cleaning? Here are five pointers to help you out in this scenario:
1 Place your leather right: Always place your leather furniture in a well-ventilated room as leather needs to breathe, especially in the monsoons. Avoid positioning your couch or chair under an air conditioning vent, heater, or in direct sunlight, as the leather will tend to dry out and crack.
2 Clean up spills fast: A splash of water every now and then won't ruin your leather sofa, provided you wipe it up immediately. Use a soft cloth to wipe up a spill and allow it to air dry. Do not use heat from a dryer to dry up a spill. If you spill grease or oil, use talcum powder or baking powder to help absorb it. Do not use saddle soap, cleaning solvents, oils, furniture polishes, varnishes, abrasive cleaners, detergents, or ammonia on leather; they will ruin the finish, causing it to become sticky and cracked. If the stain remains, contact a professional cleaner.
3 Wipe down fungus and mildew: Damp leather will attract fungus, so keep your furniture in a well-aired room. Brush off the mildew with a soft-bristled brush and use a 50/50 blend of vinegar to adjust the pH of the leather, and make it inhospitable for future mildew growth. Once clean, you can apply a good cream leather conditioner. Even sturdy leather sofas can be sensitive to substances that aren't meant for them, so steer clear of any cleaning products that haven't been created specifically with leather in mind.
4 Avoid scratches: Dirt can scratch the leather during a wet cleaning or conditioning, creating imperfections and giving microbes the opportunity to grow. To avoid this, wipe your leather furniture regularly with a dry cloth, taking extra care to remove any dust before cleaning or conditioning. You could also vacuum clean on a low setting to target the crevices and corners.
5 Conditioning & storage: Older leather couches do not gain a distinguished patina if simply left in a corner to collect dust. The distinctive look of well-aged leather comes from properly caring for the piece when it's not in use, and knowing the right way to clean it.
You should consider covering your leather furniture with lightweight sheets when not in use, or if you are travelling. This will protect it from dirt and dust, and it won't need to be cleaned as often. This will also keep sunlight off the furniture, which can dry out and crack the leather over time. When leather furniture is located in a high-traffic area, a slipcover might be more effective at keeping grease and grime at bay. Remember, do not use plastic to cover your furniture; your leather needs to breathe.
Regardless of the style, leather furniture requires regular maintenance to look its best. This type of upholstery is prized for its quality and durability and it can be a sophisticated addition to any room. Yet without proper care, the leather may become dingy, losing its supple feel and glossy appearance.
Rather than ignoring their leather furniture, homeowners should keep in mind that a few small measures can make all the difference. When maintained correctly and consistently, leather furniture can last for many years without needing a great deal of attention.
(The author is founder, The Leather Boutique)