Top 20 Leather Care Mistakes - How to protect your leather investment from them
We all want our leather products to look beautiful, new and have a long service life, even with all its distinguished marks. There are a few simple things you can do to keep your leather in the best condition, rich and supple by following the 20 most common do’s and dont’s.
Mistake #1 – Do nothing to protect your leather
Solution: If you own leather furniture, shoes, boots, apparel or you have a vehicle with leather interior, then asked yourself: “what can I do to protect the leather before something happens”? as leather is expensive and can easily be damaged.
Create a simple plan to protect your leather from excess wear and tear, this plan should include routine cleaning with a high quality leather cleaner and leather conditioner to keep the leather soft, moisturized and flexibly, it will extend your leather’s service life and allow it to age gracefully, even with its natural wrinkles.
Do you know that water is leather’s number one enemy? It is highly recommended that you use a cleaner and conditioner that contains water repellent, this way your leather will not stain if it gets wet.
By allowing dirt build up, grime, dust, body oils and other stains and not doing any maintenance, it speeds up the deterioration of the leather and permanently stain the leather. Never use harsh cleaners or solvents on leather, as they could scratch the finish or topcoat off the leather. Make a plan and stay ahead of the game, leather can be virtually indestructible if treated properly.
Mistake #2 – Too slow to cleanup spills or stains. If you allow this stuff to set in, it can cause permanent discoloration or damage to your leather
Solution: Grab a dry microfiber cloth, or a soft dry cloth and use it to blot out any spills right away after they happen. This will remove the stains while still allowing the leather to breathe. The goal here is to extend the life of your leather and sustain its look and feel for a long time. The most important things to remember about leather is not to get it stained, soiled or soaked and let it dry or hardened. This would prevent any dirty particles from penetrating the pores of the leather. Clean off dust and dirt at the surface of the leather, it will add years of life to your investment.
Mistake #3 – Failure spot test any leather conditioning or leather cleaning products
Solution: Always spot test leather care products in a small hidden area of your leather, this way if it discolors your leather or it is not the right product for your leather, then the negative results would be kept to a minimum.
Mistake #4 – Failure to read and/or follow the leather manufacturers care instructions label
Suggestion – There are many leather care products available for cleaning leather, removing stains and conditioning leather. The products best suited for your leather care are those recommended by the Leather Manufacturer. Follow the care instructions as indicated by your leather manufacturer, as not all leathers are the same. Do not risk using just any products, as they may permanently damage your beautiful leather. In the event that you do not have any manufacturers care instructions, then ask the manufacturer of the potential products you are considering purchasing.
Mistake #5 – Not seeking professional leather care assistance when necessary
Suggestion – If you think your leather is in need of professional care, contact a certified leather specialist who will carefully identify your leather type and select products specifically designed to clean and remove soil buildups and other stain causing elements. Although professional leather cleaning can remove the stains and spots, they cannot correct some damage and staining caused over time.
Mistake #6 – Having sharp objects lying around in or on your leather
Suggestion – Avoid the use of sharp objects on or near your leather goods, leather is very durable; however, it is not accident or damage proof (scissors, knives, forks, blades, keys, tools, pet claws).
Mistake #7 – Not covering your leather furniture when necessary
Suggestion – Use a lightweight sheet or blanket to cover your leather furniture when they are not in use, this will protect it from dust and dirt build up, it will also reduce your cleaning time. Do not use plastic, it will encourage the growth of mildew.
Mistake #8 – Not planning any routine leather care maintenance
Suggestion – Fine leather furniture or other leather items can last decades, but it needs proper care and routine maintenance to hold up well. Oils from skin and hair can break down the protective surface finish and be absorbed into leather over time, which could lead to permanent ugly staining, this is usually indicated by black spots on leather furniture. Plan your leather care ahead of time and schedule it. Clean, nourish and condition your leather with the right cleaning and conditioning products, this will extend the service life of your leather.
Mistake #9 – Direct exposure to heat and sunlight
Suggestion – Leather is strong, but sunlight is even stronger, sunlight is a natural bleaching agent. Heat draws the natural moisture out of the leather and can cause the finest leather to crack or become ashy over time. Don’t place your leather furniture near heat sources or in direct sunlight, as this leads to premature fading, drying and cracking.
Mistake #10 – Wiping stains instead of blotting them out
Suggestion – If you have to clean a spill or stain on your leather, do not try to wipe it off. Instead, gently apply direct pressure to the affected area by blotting using a clean soft cloth, sponge or paper towel, this will prevent the stain from spreading and affecting a larger area.
Mistake #11 – Leaving printed materials on your leather sofa
Suggestion – Keep newspapers and magazines off your leather furniture, as they can transfer ink onto leather, especially if you have lighter color furniture. Leather can absorb ink from newspapers very easily.
Mistake #12 – Not dusting
Suggestion – Dust particles are abrasive in nature. They can damage your leather surface when they come in contact with moisture. Dust your leather furniture at least once per month, this will prevent dust build-up from forming and hardening on the leather surface, use a microfiber cloth, small cloth, feather duster or the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner if necessary.
Mistake #13 – Ignoring your leather cushions
Suggestion – Fluffing and rotating leather cushions every two weeks, as this will help to prevent unwanted wrinkles from forming on the leather and becoming permanent. Leather cushions should be cared for the same way as the leather furniture.
Mistake #14 – Using household cleaners on leather furniture
Suggestion – Cleaning and conditioning luxurious leather sofas is a tricky task as you cannot just wipe them down with a wet cloth or any household cleaners. Always use professional leather care products on your leather furniture, as leather is an acidic material that absorbs moisture, it will absorb whatever you put on it. Bleach and ammonia-based cleaners should also be avoided
Mistake #15 – Using saddle soap on indoor leather furniture
Suggestion – Never use saddle soap or any kind of oils, such as mink oil or any product containing waxes or silicone (normally found in many car care products) on your leather furniture as it may damage the leather and leave it feeling sticky, these products are not meant for indoor leather furniture. Saddle soap is a high alkaline product, whereas leather is acidic, they don’t go together.
Mistake #16 – Not cleaning leather before conditioning
Suggestion – The easiest way to preserve your leather and maintain its original condition for a long time involves cleaning and conditioning. Use a professional leather cleaner to remove dust, stains and grime before applying a leather conditioner. Don’t just clean alone, clean and condition your leather for a longer life.
Mistake #17 – Not using a vacuum to clean leather furniture
Suggestion – Use the hose and soft brush attachments to remove dirt and dust that are in the corners or creases, this can lead to permanent stains if it’s not cleaned quickly and properly. If your vacuum it too strong, use a less powerful hand held vacuum to prevent scratch marks.
Mistake #18 – Waiting too long to take action
Suggestion – Treat stains immediately, hardened or old stains and spots can be difficult to remove without scratching the leather surface, take action right away while the stains and spots are still easily manageable.
Mistake #19 – Using excess leather conditioner, or leather cleaner, or over conditioning your furniture
Suggestion – This is important for the leather in your car or truck, most newer auto leather comes with a layer of leather protection from the tannery. Over time, if you apply too much leather chemicals, it will suffocate the leather, and prevent the vital breathing process that allows moisture to do its job, it can also strip off the protection the tannery applied. Consult your leather care guide for specific care instructions and cleaning routine.
Mistake #20 – Not Allowing enough time between cleaning and conditioning
Suggestion – Let it dry, let it dry, let it dry. Always allow enough time (follow manufacturer recommendations) in between cleaning to conditioning. If you need to clean your leather before conditioning, let the cleaner do its job and dry first before applying any conditioner. After applying the leather conditioner, wait and let the conditioner gets fully absorbed into the leather before buffing the excess conditioner off.
Universal Cleaning Code Includes:
DC Dry Clean Only
E Use the Millennium Leather Care Kit
N Use the Millennium Leather Care Kit
NFBR Natural Fiber Rugs
S Clean only with a dry cleaning solvent
SW Spot clean with upholstery shampoo, foam from a mild detergent or a mild dry cleaning solvent
W Clean only with water-based shampoo or foam upholstery cleaner
WS Spot clean with upholstery shampoo, foam from a mild detergent or a mild dry cleaning solvent
X Do not clean with either water or solvent-based cleaner
Wool Blot spills up immediately with a clean white cloth or plain paper towel
Different types of leather:
Leathers are usually classified in one of three categories.
• Aniline (most natural looking)
• Semi-aniline (have a light surface coating)
• Pigmented (less natural with a polymer coating)