High quality leather is one of the most precious (and expensive) materials. It is mainly used for upholstered furniture such as sofas, armchairs, couches, stools and chairs. However, in order for leather furniture to retain its pleasant, soft feel and lasting beauty over the years, it must be cleaned and maintained regularly.
The right leather care – that is why it is so important
Real leather is a pure natural product that is not able to regenerate itself. For this reason not only professional cleaning is necessary, but also regular care. This ensures that the leather is supplied with essential care and moisturising agents – only in this way will it remain as beautiful and soft as on the first day. If, on the other hand, leather furniture care is neglected, there is a risk of consequences such as drying out of the material or loss of colour.
Individual care for every type of leather
There are different types of leather and each needs individual care. The simple reason: The types sometimes differ greatly in their material properties. Aniline leather, for example, is particularly breathable and open-pored, which makes it more vulnerable than other types of leather and requires intensive care. Pigmented leather, on the other hand, is protected from many environmental influences by the applied colour layer. In this case, the appropriate leather care product should not be too greasy, but rather provide moisture.
In the following we will discuss the different types of leather and the best care for each. Basically, however, the care product for leather furniture should always guarantee the following:
- gentle, but nevertheless thorough cleaning
- good moisture supply
- adequate re-greasing
- protective impregnation
- effective light protection for colour retention
This type of leather is leather that is coated with an additional layer of colour after tanning and dyeing. How thick this layer is depends on the condition of the leather in its raw state. Due to the additional pigmentation, any unevenness or “damage” (for example by branding, insect bites, etc.) is no longer visible. The pores and the individual skin structure also become almost invisible. If the colour layer completely covers the natural skin texture, an artificial scarring is often applied, imitating a natural structure or that of other animal species (ostrich, crocodile).
Smooth leather with a particularly strong colour pigmentation is largely responsible for the “prejudices” against leather furniture such as cold or an unpleasant feeling when sweating. On the other hand, this type of surface treatment also offers effective protection against stains and is easy to clean.
Pigmented leather is the most commonly used type for leather furniture such as sofas, armchairs etc. It is considered particularly suitable for everyday use, robust and easy to clean.
Aniline leather is the term used to describe natural smooth leather that is particularly high quality. They can come from different types of animals and are characterised by the fact that they reproduce the natural skin appearance. They are dyed exclusively by simple barrel dyeing with soluble dyes and the pores remain completely open. Aniline leather sofas, armchairs and co. therefore have a very authentic and individual character. Skin folds, scars and other unevenness are clearly visible in contrast to furniture with pigmented leather. The more flawless and even the surface appearance, the “better” is or was the skin appearance of the animal.
Upholstered furniture covered with aniline leather is particularly breathable and supple. Their look is considered very noble and representative, which is why aniline leather sofas and armchairs are mainly found in the upscale segment. However, due to their natural texture, such furniture is also more sensitive than models with pigmented smooth leather and is not necessarily suitable for households with (small) children, for example. An alternative to upholstered furniture with pure aniline leather can be models with semi-aniline leather. They combine the properties of smooth leather and pure aniline and are therefore somewhat more robust and less sensitive to stains and moisture.
However, special attention should always be paid to the correct care of aniline leather. The high-quality natural material should be protected from fading and drying out by appropriate care products. In addition to special cleaning and care products for the leather care of aniline furniture, there are also so-called colour refreshing lotions which are mixed together individually. Aniline leather must be cleaned, impregnated and cared for regularly. When choosing the appropriate care products, you should make sure that they are suitable for aniline furniture and have a high re-greasing effect. Products with a sun protection factor are also suitable if the furniture is placed in a place that is exposed to direct sunlight.
Saddle leather is an aniline or semi-aniline leather that is waxed afterwards. It is also colloquially known as “greasy leather”, “oil leather” or “pull-up leather”. The surface is particularly cuddly and warm. It is often used for furniture that is supposed to have an antique vintage look and will acquire the so-called patina over time. When choosing the right leather care product, care must be taken to ensure that the appropriate amount of wax is used to maintain the special suppleness and feel of saddle leather.
The nubuck leather comes mainly from cattle or calf and was very popular for furniture, especially in the 1980s and 1990s. Nubuck leathers are sanded on the smooth side, giving them a velvety surface. Nubuck leather is particularly soft and has a relatively high breathability. At the same time, however, the rough surface makes the material sensitive to moisture, sunlight and stains, which is why leather care should definitely be tailored to this type of leather. Before using appropriate leather cleaning products, you should first carefully brush off dust and dirt on your nubuck leather furniture. After cleaning, we recommend impregnation with sun protection factor, which minimises water absorption and protects against fading.
Leather cleaning agents & leather care
Make sure you only use products from reputable suppliers for your leather furniture care. Many manufacturers of sophisticated leather furniture, such as Rolf Benz, provide answers to all questions regarding the care of sofas, armchairs and the like on their own FAQ pages and also recommend certain leather cleaning and care product brands. Remember that guarantee claims could suffer under certain circumstances if, for example, you have treated your Rolf Benz sofa with cleaning agents or care products that are not expressly intended for leather care.