Leather furniture, like any furniture, gets stains and soiling from usage. The difference is the type of leather that is stained, and whether the stains are “on” the leather, or “in” the leather. And frankly, that is a big difference.

If you are unsure as to the type of leather you have, a quick visit to the leather care page will aid you in determining what you are dealing with. And remember, just because the salesperson said it was a type of leather that doesn’t stain, doesn’t mean that it’s so. Sales departments get their information from factory reps, who get their information from chemists (filtered through the factory’s own sales department), who get their information from tests results that may or may not have any relevance to real world conditions.

When you know what kind of leather you are dealing with, you have a better chance of understanding exactly what your piece being stained means in terms of resolving the staining.

Finished Leather

Staining on finished leather has the best chance of being resolved simply by cleaning. Most staining will be “on” the leather rather than “in” the leather, as the finish holds out spills. The exceptions with finished leather staining typically involve a dye transfer of some sort. A couple of examples would be blue dye from cotton-denim clothing onto light colored finished leathers, or ink, both of which quickly become “in” the leather as the dyes migrate through the top coat and actually “re-dye” the color coating of the finished leather.

Once a finished leather has aged and experienced wear, it will often lose the protection of the clear coat layer and become more susceptible to stains getting “in” to the leather. Lighter colored finished leathers typically show this the most. As the clear coat gets worn off , soiling gets ground “in” to the color coating and regular cleaning is insufficient to get rid of soil and stains.

If your finished Leather has dye transfer, ground-in soiling, or other issues that cleaning alone hasn’t been able to resolve, our Restoration Kit will certainly be able to, giving you the option to restore your piece/s to like-new condition, and then maintain them with our consumer care products. Proper maintenance can prevent having the same issues in future.

Semi-Aniline Leathers

When new, semi-aniline leather has some degree of protection on it against staining. Most spills (if quickly dealt with) will be able to be wiped up with a cloth with no residual staining. Food stains can often be removed with a damp cloth or gel-based leather cleaner. If the leather darkens in the area being cleaned, drying with a hair dryer is key to lessening the possibility of the stains being “in” the leather.

If a spill has soaked in but is still damp, flushing with distilled water and then force-drying with a hair dryer will minimize and sometimes stop the area from staining, depending on the source of the spill.

If a spill has soaked in and dried, you now have a stain “in” the leather, rather than “on” the leather. Any attempt at cleaning will have a chance of worsening the situation. The only option now is to cover over the stains “in” the leather. This is precisely one of the things our DIY kits can help you resolve.

Once a semi-aniline leather starts to age, its already minimal amount of stain resistance diminishes and quickly disappears in wear areas. If you have multiple spots and stains across your piece at this stage, no amount of cleaning will improve the situation and any attempt will likely bring more issues, especially if improper products are used. Our Restoration Kit can recolor your piece and give you significantly more stain resistance than your piece had when new.

Unfinished Leathers

Many leathers fall under the category of unfinished - full anilines, pull-up, waxed, oil-tanned, suede, and nubuck, to name a few. These are the most susceptible leathers to staining as they have no integrated protective top coating.

Suede and nubuck stains, once set, should never be liquid cleaned. If something has just spilled on a suede or nubuck they can be flushed with distilled water and force-dried with a hair dryer. Once stains on suede or nubuck have set, the only way to deal with them is through dry abrasion. These leathers were abraded initially at the tannery to create the end product. To deal with staining you must abrade off the soiled or stained surface fibers, and bring back up a fresh nap. Various tools are available, including a suede brush, soft-bristle nylon brush, or even a fingernail, in a pinch. Care should be taken not to over-abrade the areas.

Full Aniline leather is to leather what silk is to fabric; beautiful feel and softness, but stains very easily, and the stains are difficult to deal with. There is no protection on a full aniline leather. Any moisture or spill will immediately soak into the leather. Occasionally, if a spill is caught immediately, flushing and drying might reduce staining, but often could worsen the situation.

Once a full aniline has accumulated extensive staining and soiling, the only course of action to resolve them is to apply a topical finish to the leather. This is often a very costly process when done professionally.

Utilizing our restoration process, you can transform your stained and delicate leather into a protected and much more utilitarian piece. Once you have completed the DIY restoration process we have developed, your furniture will become cleanable and spills will be able to be wiped up easily.