There are several different kinds of leather used to cover couches. The most prevalent are coated leather (bycast leather), full aniline and suede. Nubuck, though common for shoes, is not used for furniture nearly as often. Aniline leather and suede absorb moisture quickly and stain easily whereas coated leather is known more for cracking and weathering with age.
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Top Coated and Aniline Type Leathers
Cleaning a top coated or aniline couch is far easier than tackling suede furniture. These materials are more resistant to liquid stains but do need conditioning far more often. The best product for this is Leather Honey. It softens, protects and conditions the leather, returning the moisture that gives leather its flexibility. There are hundreds of leather cleaners on the market, some that work almost as well as Leather Honey. If you can't find it, you may be able to find one of these replacements: LTT leather shampoo or Lazy Leather.
Before using any cleaning product on your sofa, you need to make sure all the dust and debris are removed. Use the brush attachment of your vacuum cleaner or brush the couch off with a duster. Not doing so could cause scratches on the couch when you are wiping it down. Using abrasive cleaners such as saddle soap or even baby wipes can strip away the protective coating on the leather and leave your couch worse for wear. Always clean the couch with a microfiber towel or buffing cloth to avoid scratching the leather surface.
Suede and Nubuck Leathers
Suede couches are a bit harder to deal with than their coated cousins. Kiwi Suede and Nubuck Protector should be used to cover the entire couch just after purchase. This will lay down a protective layer on top of the suede without compromising the flexibility and feel of the material. It is important to do this to prevent liquid spills from being soaked into the fabric. Once a liquid stain has entered suede it is almost impossible to remove. Even professional cleaning services have problems with stained suede. If the Kiwi brand is not available, Penguin makes a nubuck and suede cleaner that is almost as good.
Cleaning suede requires a suede brush and eraser. These items will get under the surface of the suede to pull out dirt and debris. Wipe the couch with a damp (not wet) cloth to pick up these particles. There is no best brush or eraser, but a metal brush will always work better than a plastic one.
Leather Masters Foaming cleaner is the perfect choice for both coated and suede leather. The foam doesn't penetrate the surface so it will not leave water stains like some of the other cleaners out there. Still it is advised that you do a test clean on an inconspicuous part of the couch to determine if it will damage the material.
If you are more of a do-it-yourselfer, then you can make your own leather cleaner at home. This simple recipe will leave your couch as shiny as the day you moved it in. Mix one-quarter cup white vinegar with one-half cup of olive or linseed oil and apply it to the couch. Leave it overnight and buff it off with a microfiber cloth. This will only work on the coated leather couch.
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