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Caring for your leather furniture

Leather is one of the more durable, low-maintenance surfaces for home furnishings. Keeping your leather sofa, chair or ottoman clean is relatively simple if you follow the proper steps. But different types of leather upholstery have different cleaning requirements, so you first need to know what type of leather you have. Here’s how to identity, clean and maintain your leather upholstery to keep it looking great.

Unprotected leather. Aniline leather — also called pure aniline, full aniline or unfinished leather — has a soft, luxurious feel. The leather is dyed through with aniline dye but has no surface pigment colour added. It has little or no protective coating other than perhaps a dirt-resistant treatment. Natural surface grains and markings may be seen on the leather, which can develop a patina.

Aniline leather is more sensitive to staining than protected leather and typically is pricier as well. Other types of aniline leather include pull-up leather, which is injected with oils and waxes, and Nubuck leather, which has been distressed or buffed to create a soft, velvety feel.


Protected leather. Most leather furniture is made with protected, or finished, leather. These leathers may be labeled semianiline, aniline plus pigment or pigmented leather. Protected leather is more durable, stain-resistant and uniform in appearance than pure aniline.

Semianiline leather is aniline-dyed and topped with a layer of pigment colour. It has a soft feel like pure aniline leather but is a little more durable due to the protective pigment coating. Other protected leathers are coated with thicker layers of pigment and polymer. They have a stiffer feel and stand up to more wear and tear.

Caring for Your Leather Upholstery

Skip the home potions. When it comes to cleaning leather upholstery, keep it simple and avoid DIY remedies. Homemade solutions using mayonnaise and vinegar are best kept to salads and sandwiches, and not the leather-cleaning menu. Donna L. Frehafer, from Wellington’s Leather Furniture in Port Ludlow, Washington, has seen clients harming their furniture with everything from hair-care products to Pine-Sol. Keep in mind that warranties can be voided if the wrong cleaner or conditioner is used on leather furniture. The most important thing is to avoid applying anything that is not endorsed by the tanneries, Frehafer says.

Cleaning Materials:

– Vacuum cleaner with brush attachment

– Distilled water

– Mild, neutral-pH nondetergent liquid soap, such as Neutrogena or Dove, or a leather cleaner designed for furniture upholstery

– Soft white microfiber cloths

– Tarp or drop cloth

– Commercial leather conditioner (optional)

Extending Your Fabric Lounges Life With A Fabric Protector

There is no doubt that Fabric protection plays an important part in maintaining and extending the life of your carpets and upholstery.

Fabric protection should be applied by a professional. When a fabric protector is applied correctly your fabrics will last longer, and stay cleaner for longer. Your favourite upholstered lounge or carpets will also be easier to clean as the protector provides a barrier against spills and stains before they become a problem.

So how does a fabric protector work?

When applied correctly a fabric protector works because of two basic things…

1. A fabric protector increases surface tension:

This means that any liquid spilt on a fibre will have difficulty penetrating the surface of the fibre. When spills can’t penetrate the fibre, clean up becomes easier and staining is avoided.

2. A fabric protector is a coating mechanism:

A fabric protector’s fluorochemical polymer stain shield penetrates and coats the fibre. The strength of bonding and length of protection may vary from product to product. Correct application is important to ensure the entire fibre, from the top to the bottom, has been treated in order to deliver the maximum benefits.

Important: Regardless of warranties or marketing claims, no fibre protector is 100% bulletproof. If
spills are not cleaned up immediately or at least within a reasonable time frame, stubborn stains
may occur.

How to choose a lounge when you have pets


Dare Gallery general manager Patrick Doyle says there are some fabrics more suited to families with young children and people living with pets.

“The honest truth is that fabric and pets are not the best of friends,” he says.

“Whether it be a moulting dog or a sharp-clawed cat, pets can have a negative impact on fabrics.”

He says the macro suedes have been around for a while and they are probably the most resilient, with a very low pile and a bonded backing.

“They do cope with almost all lounge room challenges and are a soft, warm material to lounge on,” Patrick says.

“As a general guide, pet owners should look for a fabric that has a tight weave and low pile.

Adrianna suggests selecting a heavy domestic or commercial-grade material for high-traffic areas.

“Anything from 30,000 martindales and above (a measure of the durability of fabric), is suitable for a space with young children,” she says. “It is also preferential to select a fabric with synthetic properties, such as polyester, over a natural linen.”


How to choose the right Lounge

YOU can tell a lot about a person by the lounge they own. Structured two-seater settees point to happy couples, low-slung lounges from Ikea indicate student accommodation and modular lounges practically scream family living.

Whichever lounge you choose, it’s worth taking the time to look at the options because, let’s face it, you’ll spend a lot of time there.

Depending on your budget, a new lounge is also a significant investment, so it pays to get it right the first time.


Domayne Design interior designer Adrianna Doueihy says planning the layout of your space is key to choosing the right lounge.

“The placement and proportion of the lounge compared to the overall space is essential in making a sofa look good,” Adrianna says.

“Be aware of the dimensions of the lounge you wish to purchase. Consider the height of the space as well so you don’t obstruct views.”

Before you decide, Adrianna says you should think about what other pieces of furniture will be in the room.

“Select a lounge that matches or complements the other pieces — flow and continuity will help create an effortless space,” she says.

“You want to come home to a relaxing, soothing interior.”

When selecting a colour for a lounge, there are a lot of factors to consider including the style of your space and your lifestyle.

“To make a space appear larger, a decorator will select lighter colours,”Adriana says. “Colour psychology also plays a major role in the colour selection.”

Neutrals like grey are popular right now.



Dare Gallery general manager Patrick Doyle says when shopping for a sofa you should measure your room and think about access, especially if it’s an apartment.

“As more people move to apartment living, choosing the right-sized lounge is critical,” he says. “A large lounge in a small space can reduce the pleasure of owning it as it can make the living space look small.

“Making sure the sofa will fit into the home is essential — small entry ways, tight corners and stairwells can make things difficult.”


Whether it’s a single seater for a small apartment or a large modular lounge that can be arranged in a variety of layouts, there are many styles to consider.

Patrick says modular or corner lounges maximise space and seating room.

“Combined with a chaise section to lounge back and relax with the feet up and you have a great space to wind down,” he says.

“Families require more room so modular or corner lounges will often be appropriate.”


Adrianna says looking online or through magazines for inspiration is great but visiting
a store is important to get an understanding of how a sofa will feel.

“Seat cushions are manufactured in either a foam infill which gives a firm feel, feather where you can completely sink into the comfort of the lounge, and foam with a feather wrap which allows the soft feel of a feather seat, however the foam supports the structure of the cushion, so you don’t have to keep fluffing it to maintain its neat appearance.”



King Living resident trends expert Triana Odone says if you want a sofa to last a lifetime, you should ensure it has a solid foundation.

“Sofa frames can be made from a range of materials, so ask to see how the internal frame is structured and whether quality materials have been used,” she says.

“Steel frames are a stronger and more durable choice which can withstand rigorous use over time.”

King Living’s steel frame uses high-grade steel and comes with a 25-year warranty.

“Take into consideration the quality of materials, so ask the retailer about the materials they use and if fabrics are tested for durability,” Triana says.

“Good quality materials will last much longer, are easier to maintain and won’t stretch and sag over time.

“If selecting a leather sofa, ask the retailer whether they use durable, full-hide leathers as opposed to thinner ‘split’ leathers.”

Triana says high-resilience cushioning and memory foam are beneficial, as cushions often hide inferior foams and fillings that will deteriorate over time, while the addition of a pocket-spring structure can provide long-lasting support.

Leather Care Products

With the advent of affordable leather furniture flooding the markets from China there has been an ever growing demand for  after market leather cleaners.


Whilst the easiest and probably the cheapest way to clean upholstery leather is with warm water mixed with a mild soapy solution leather care products do have a very important factor in them over the above method.

For startes the cleaners are developed and designed not to be harsh on the protective coat of the upholstery leather something that all purpose leather cleaners or household cleaners generally don’t do. In fact most soaps and even the mildest of household cleaners tend to contain ethanol or some solvent based property.


These solvent based properties are great for removing grease and dirt off hard surfaces like tiles and benches but if used on upholstery leather they will degrade and damage it in no time.


So a specific upholstery leather cleaner is somewhat of an insurance that will ensure your leather furniture is taken care of and will not be damaged.


The othe radvantage of factory made leather care products is that they not only take dirt and grease off the leather but the conditioners put moisture content back in to the leather kepping the leather soft and supple to the touch.


Moisutre content also prevents the leather from drying up and cracking. Whilst new upholestery leather do no need this treatment for the first few months in hot humid or tropical conditions cleaning the leather regularly is a must in order to prevent the leather from drying up or from body oils building up on the surface.

So if you are looking to clean your new leather lounge remember, you can do so at viurtually no cost by using a warm water soapy solution ( nappy soap flakes are the best) but you do risk the leather not getting the proper treatment in the long run.


Another word of caution stay clear of all purpose leather cleaners that contain bees wax or any kind of silicone compounds there are made for belt or shoe type leathers and are NOT suitable fro upholstery leather.