Addressing Unexpected Leather Stains Through Furniture First Aid

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person cleaning a leather couch

With the right care, leather can retain its lustre and even look better as it ages. Addressing spills in a timely and appropriate manner can reduce the stains they leave behind on the leather’s surface.

Eye-catching and comfortable, leather furniture is often the centrepiece of a room. The colour and texture of leather alone is remarkably appealing as part of many contemporaneous aesthetics, making it a solid choice for many living rooms. In addition, leather is also one of the few materials that grow better with age; constant use leaves behind the characteristic appealing sheen in old leather.

That is, of course, if the leather is well-maintained. Fortunately, as beautiful as leather is, it is also one of the easiest materials to keep clean. To maintain its impeccably immaculate sheen, leather must be carefully and regularly cleaned and occasionally treated, both of which are not difficult tasks. Fortunately, leather would only need deep cleaning on occasion; every so often, leather furniture should be looked after by a professional leather upholstery cleaning service to maintain its appearance.

At times, of course, accidents do happen. Quick action is needed to minimize the impact of spills on the surface of the leather.

Leather Types and Sensitivity

There are two basic types of leather upholstery in the market today. Knowing the kind of leather helps simplify the process of responding to a sudden spill to avoid long-term staining and minimizing damage to the leather.

Unprotected or aniline leather is the most expensive of the types of leather and includes items such as nubuck. Aniline leathers have an aesthetically appealing natural texture and would over time develop a patina or sheen. While aniline leathers possess a characteristic soft and luxurious feel, they are also immensely sensitive to staining.

Finished or protected leather, meanwhile, is more resistant to staining. Less expensive and more common than aniline leather, treated leather resists water damage and staining thanks in no small part to being treated with oils, which supplements the natural oils found in leather items.

Immediate Action

Sofa or armchair chemical cleaning with professionally extraction method

To prevent the appearance of hard-to-remove stains on the surface of aniline leather, the substance should be blotted (not wiped) with a dry white cloth as soon as possible to absorb much of the spilt liquid. Pressing the cloth over the affected areas should be done slowly to prevent the liquid spill from seeping further into the leather. The spill should not be allowed to dry before being blotted off.

The sensitive nature of aniline leather means that any further action must be done without the guidance of a furniture specialist. Besides basic cleaning, no further action should be done until advised and any further attempts at removal should be left to a professional.

Finished leather, meanwhile, can resist staining rather well. Spills based on water can be adequately blotted off using a damp and clean cloth with distilled water. Stubborn stains can be removed through a combination of non-detergent soaps and lukewarm water applied through a sponge or soft cloth, which can be removed with a damp cloth and blotted dry with a dry, clean cloth.

Oil-based stains should be blotted with a clean dry cloth; no water is necessary. Pigmented leathers may need additional products to remove the stain from the coloration. Stains left behind by oil-based spills will not mar the appearance of the furniture for long and will gradually dissipate into the leather itself.

As with aniline leathers, any stain too stubborn on finished leathers should instead be left to a professional.


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