by Toni Farrell-Higgins, Rooms ReNew Stylist at Discovery Furniture in Topeka, KS
There's no mystery to caring for leather furniture. If leather furniture is well cared for it can last for 15-20 years instead of the 4-5 years many other furniture coverings average. That's a great incentive for both purchasing and learning how to care for this beautiful furniture, isn't it?
To know how to care for leather depends upon how the leather was prepared. The qualities of leather vary depending upon production methods. Leather is often classified as "corrected" and "uncorrected." If the original animal hide contained imperfections then it may have been "corrected" by sanding or buffing. This leather is often dyed or pigmented, then embossed to produce a uniform grain. A urethane finish is then applied to protect it. While these leathers aren't considered premium, they are the most stain resistant and therefore are more family friendly.
"Uncorrected" leather is in good enough condition that it is not buffed or sanded. Because hide is a natural product, each piece of leather will have its own unique patina. A single hide may in fact have color variations or minor markings which add to its unique character.
Leather products are actually quite simple to care for. First, leather should not be placed in direct sunlight. Like wood, leather can fade and could possibly stiffen from heat exposure. Secondly, because of leather's tendency to absorb other dyes, avoid placing printed materials on leather as the ink can transfer and leave a stain. Third, simple care will keep your leather looking wonderful. Use a clean white cloth to dust every week or two to prevent buildup of regular household soil. If any soil does accumulate, use a damp, soft white cloth to wipe the leather surface clean. But before you apply any moisture to the leather, be sure to place a few drops of water in an inconspicuous spot to make sure the leather doesn't absorb it. If the leather does absorb water use only dry cloths. The final step in caring for your leather furniture is to clean every 5-6 months with a mild leather cleaner. After cleaning apply a protective leather cream to keep it soft and supple.
To insure your leather furniture's long life, consider purchasing a protection plan. Protection 1st, an excellent furniture care program, picks up where the manufacturer's warranty stops. Often manufacturers' warranties cover construction defects, but Protection 1st covers accidental stains and damage caused by food, pets, cosmetics or ink. Puncture damage, tears or burns can also be repaired under this plan. Some exclusions may apply, but a protection plan will help ensure the value of your new beautiful leather furniture for years to come.