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Beginner’s Guide To The Secrets Of Leather Furniture Care

Leather Furniture Care and You

So you’ve purchased a stunning custom leather sofa, loveseat, armchair, or sectional from of Iron & Oak. First things first, congratulations! You have made an investment that you will continue to profit from for decades down the line. The only thing left is to master the art of leather furniture care to keep your new piece perfect. If you’re fuzzy on how custom leather furniture is an investment on your part, brush up on your leather legalese with Why You Should Embrace Your Aging Leather.

One of the best things about leather furniture is the transformation that comes from years of gentle wear and tear. This crash course in leather furniture care to give your pieces the happily ever after you both deserve.

Identifying the Care Needed

For your first step in leather furniture care, you need to realized that in the world of high quality leather upholstery, there are two ruling styles of leather that are used in of Iron & Oak‘s custom furniture. Almost all our leather is full grain. In other words, that’s leather made out of the whole thickness of the hide, not split into thinner sheets. As a result, our leather is the highest quality grain you can find. A hide of full grain leather falls into two respectable families reserved for different applications: semi aniline dyed and fully aniline dyed. You wouldn’t use hardwood polish to clean a carpet, you shouldn’t use one solution to clean all types of leather.

A quick & easy way to find out what kind of leather you’re working with is by doing the water drop test. Find a hidden, out-of-sight portion of leather for the test and put a drop of water on the surface.

If the water droplet absorbs almost immediately into the leather then you are working with fully aniline leather. If it holds on the surface momentarily before slowly soaking in that is evidence of semi aniline leather.

Above all, it’s very important to use the right techniques for the right leather type. For more in-depth explanations on the varying types of leather, refer to our article The Best Leather for Your Furniture.

Aniline Leather Furniture Care

The safest and simplest cleaning solution for any full aniline leather sofa is just water. However, make sure to use distilled water or rainwater instead of tap water. Minerals in tap water can bond with the leather’s surface and leave unsightly streaks that dull the leather. Lightly wipe the surface of the leather with a clean, slightly dampened cloth to remove dirt and other particles. You can also use a vacuum with a soft brush attachment to clean the furniture piece.

Sometimes you need a more serious cleaning that results from a spill. The first step is to quickly blot the spill with a clean, dry white cloth to prevent severe staining. Contact your furniture supplier for advice on recommended cleaning products. After that, treatment is limited to pure aniline cleaning solutions, which are safe for unprotected leather.

Obtain a tampico brush and work the recommended solution into a foamy lather. This is to prevent the solution from simply soaking into the leather. You want it to froth and sit on the surface, drawing up dirt & grime to be wiped off later on. Work on small patches at a time  cleaning in a circular motion. Always allow leather to air dry naturally after wiping away all residue with a dry terry cloth..

Semi-Aniline Leather Furniture Care

Protected leather stands up to heavier use and cleaning than aniline leather. However, there are still very specific do’s and don’ts when it comes to upkeep.

DON’T use products containing ammonia or alkalies, and avoid saddle soaps, detergents, oils, furniture polishes, and abrasive materials. Never use a hot-air dryer to dry leather furniture, as the heat will alter the leather beyond repair.

DO test out any homemade or purchased solutions first on an inconspicuous spot that can’t be seen before applying it to your whole sofa – sometimes soaps and water may discolor the leather.

Remove loose surface dirt by vacuuming the furniture piece using a soft brush attachment. Create a cleaning solution by moistening a microfiber cloth with a few drops of mild, non-detergent soap and distilled water. Again, test an inconspicuous spot with the cloth to make sure there’s no discoloration from the soap and water. Working from top to bottom, wipe the furniture in sections. Dampen another cloth with plain distilled water and wipe the furniture again to remove traces of soap. Then finally dry with a clean towel.

An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Maintaining top notch leather furniture care furniture doesn’t have to be an all-day commitment. Basically, keeping your surfaces clean by performing brief touch-ups can greatly reduce the amount of work needed to clean your sofa, loveseat, or sectional. By vacuuming with a soft brush every week, you can save time on your next big clean.

Caring for your furniture shouldn’t be a daunting task, so handle it how you would handle other routine household chores. Frequent touch-ups keep your leather furniture looking and feeling fresh. For additional tips & tricks and more content, follow our Instagram and Facebook pages and feel free to reach out to us with any questions, or pop into our Lambertville New Jersey showroom for a visit!

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Holiday Showroom Hours

Our Lambertville showroom will be closed from 12/22 to 12/26. We'll still be taking calls at 732.400.1962, answering emails to, and opening back up on the 27th

Until then, have a safe and happy Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Yule, Festivus, or just a good solid three day weekend

Happy Holidays from Mary Beth, Anthony, Joe, & Amanda at of I&O