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Leather Upholstery Care & Maintenance

leather lounge chair and banquette in Dirty Martin in Cardiff photo taken by Michael Franke

Leather is resilient by nature with many different types and varying finishes applied to it.

Because leather is vulnerable to staining, finished leather is usually coated with both a colouring pigment and a clear protective layer. These provide significant extra protection and for this reason finished leather is usually used for contract furnishings. Leather upholstery is likely to have natural scars and over time is susceptible to stretching and subsequent bagging.

Note: Unfinished leather (ie. aniline leather, suede and nubuck) is processed through a process that preserves and colours the leather, but does not protect its surface. It is vulnerable to marking and staining and it is not recommended for contract use.

Leather cleaning

Remove spills immediately with a soft damp cloth, taking great care not to wear the surface – do not rub hard.

For stains, use a specialist leather furniture cleaner such as Furniture Clinic – Leather Ultra Clean or LTT – Em Clean, following the product’s instructions. After cleaning, lightly dry any excess liquid with a soft cloth, avoiding force that may damage the surface.

We recommend regular light cleaning of finished leather using leather specified wipes such as Armour All – Leather Surface Wipes. Alternatively you may use a lightly water-dampened cloth to remove any dirt, dust or grease.

Leather maintenance

Leather dries out, so requires regular attention. Apply a leather conditioner such as Furniture Clinic – Leather Conditioner Cream every six months or once the leather feels dry – hot environments can dry leather particularly quickly.

Faux leather

Faux leather is a synthetic alternative to leather and is usually made of PVC (vinyl), polyurethane, or polyester. It is much more resistant to staining and requires much less care than real leather. But it can still scratch and can also melt. 

Real leather is more durable than PU/PVC, as it is able to breathe. Instead faux leather will start cracking over the years. There is on average 8-10 years longevity for real leather.


Use warm water and detergent.

Deep cleaning

To remove tough stains, try applying the following - but first test the product on a hidden area:

  1. An alcohol based all-purpose cleaner such as ‘Formula 409’.
  2. Rubbing alcohol (exercise care; over use may cause the material to permanently lighten).


Faux leather restorers are available and will brighten faded colours.

Free Furniture Care & Maintenance Guide

Get more from your contract furniture by caring for it properly. Download our Furniture Care & Maintenance Guide to learn how to make your furniture last longer in a hospitality space.


Topics: Furniture care, Contract upholstery,

By Paula Stanbridge-Faircloth Paula Stanbridge-Faircloth on 18/12/17 12:17
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