Advice - Cleaning Leather


CLEANING  LEATHER

THE BASIC RULES OF CLEANING LEATHER

If you’ve had a chance to look around the Liquid Leather website, particularly the Different Types of Leather advice page, then you’re probably aware that cleaning leather isn’t quite as simple as we’d all like it to be. There are, however, some basic rules that should help to un-complicate the process, and make the thought of leather care a little less daunting.

Although this may sound quite disgusting, the fact is that leather is essentially dead skin, and this fact means it can be likened to your own skin in many ways – namely that sunlight, dirt and over drying are the enemy.

Your hands, for example are prone to cracking when they get excessively dirty and can even stain when exposed to certain things. With your living skin, however, the cells continually replenish themselves and are fed with your body’s natural oils and nutrients, but with leather we have to do this for them with leather conditioners such as Liquid Leather GT11 Leather Conditioner and GT13 Conditioner With Repellent. But just like you wouldn’t put moisturiser on dirty hands, leather must be properly cleaned before any leather treatment.

Common Problems and How to Deal With Them

Oils Body oils, grease and sweat

Signs: Areas that come in contact with hair and skin start to darken with no effect or adverse effect from leather cleaners. You will also notice the dye will eventually flake off.

Prevention: Avoid contact between skin or hair with the leather. Wipe twice a week with a damp cloth and clean once a month with Liquid Leather GT15 Leather Preserve Gentle Cleaner.

Solution: Liquid Leather GT20 Hair and Hand Grease Remover removes human and animal hair and body grease from most leather during general cleaning, while GT18 Leather Degreasant & Fabric Cleaner is best for grease removal prior to re-colouring.
 Dye TransferDye Transfer From Clothing

Signs: Often a problem where something such as new pair of denim jeans comes in contact with a light coloured sofa. You will notice the colour of the offending material transferring onto the leather in as little as a few hours or more often over the course of several weeks.

Prevention: Wash new clothing before using leather furniture or avoid heavily dyed clothing all together.

Solution: Liquid Leather GT12 Intensive Cleaner can remove dye from recent transfer, and GT14 Safety Solvent Cleaner is effective at removing more stubborn set-in dye transfer. If all else fails, let us know and we can provide the name of a company that will remove dye transfer and re-colour leathers within the UK mainland.
Heat & SunlightHeat and Sunlight

Signs: The colour of the leather dulls and loses its lustre. Creases form and later cracks appear. Antiqued Rubbed and PU leathers suffer heavily from over drying, and the protective coating can come off and expose the dye underneath.

Prevention: Regularly cleaning with Liquid Leather GT15 Gentle Maintenance Cleaner and treating with GT11 Leather Preserve Conditioner will help retain the life of your leather.

Solution: Liquid Leather provide a full range of dyes to repair creases and cracks once they begin to form, including our famous Flexicote Dyes, which can repair even the most badly worn and cracked leather.
InkInk Marks

Signs: To put it simply, marks of ink on the leather!

Prevention: Keep the cap on your pens! But accidents do happen, so we recommend keeping a Liquid Leather Inkstick on hand. Ink stains can be easily removed if you act fast, but the longer the ink sits on the leather, the more it will soak into the surface sealant.

Solution: An Inkstick will remove most ink stains without damaging the sealant, although sometimes it may take several treatments. DO NOT use hairspray to remove ink, as this will also remove the sealant and allow dirt to penetrate the leather. If you took someone else’s advice and used hairspray before using this; don’t worry, Liquid Leather Leather Sealant Laquer is available to re-seal your leather. Unfortunately, ink stains cannot be removed from aniline, semi-aniline, suede or nubuck leather, but we can provide you with the name of companies that specialise in ink related problems who may be able to help.

Types of dirt and Liquid Leathers product recommendations

Type of DirtRecommended Product
Mild DirtGT15 Maintenance Cleaner, GT15.5 Foam Cleaner
Ingrained Dirt/Dye TransferGT12 Intensive Cleaner
Fresh Dye TransferGT14 Safety Solvent Cleaner, GT19 Stripping Solvent *
Hand and Hair GreaseGT20 Hand & Hair Grease Remover, GT18 Leather Degreasant & Fabric Cleaner
* Not recommended for DIY use and should be used sparingly.

OVERCOMING CLASSIC CAR LEATHER NEGLECT

Ah, the age-old dilemma of damaged leather upholstery in you car. Car upholstery has to put up with a lot – sunlight, heat, cold, salt, sweat - you name it, your leather seats have had to deal with it, and sadly they tend to get precious little care in return.

Not surprisingly, there comes a time when this wear and tear starts to show, and regardless of whether you are the culprit or if you bought the car like that, it can seriously affect the value of your car, and will only get worse if left untreated. If you are dealing with seriously worn and cracked seats, then you may need to give them a treatment of Liquid Leather Flexicote Dyes, in which case you should read our Using Flexicote Dyes for Well Worn Leather page. Hopefully, your upholstery hasn’t gotten that bad yet, and you can save it in two simple steps.

Step 1 – use Liquid Leather GT12 Intensive Cleaner neat with a soft Liquid Leather Nail Brush and gently swirl it into the leather, taking care to get the cleaner into all the creases and seams. After letting it sit for 3 minutes, swirl gently with the Nail Brush again and wipe off any excess with a damp cloth. The glycerine in GT12 Intensive cleaner allows it to pre-soften the leather, which will make the next step more effective.

Step 2 – after letting the leather dry for at least an hour, apply TWO coats of Liquid Leather GT11 Leather Conditioner sparingly with a soft white cotton cloth. Allow to dry for another hour, and your car is ready for use.

Don’t neglect your leather! Clean and condition your leather regularly with GT15 Gentle Cleaner and GT11 Leather Conditioner to prevent any further damage. If you’re waxing your car more than you’re cleaning and conditioning your seats, then you’re neglecting your leather. Liquid Leather Leather Degreasant & Fabric Cleaner should also be used where grease stains begin to appear such as headrests and arm rests.

REMOVING STAINS FROM LEATHER AND FABRICS

Leather is a very long-lasting material (especially when properly cared for), so stains are pretty much inevitable. When the inevitable does happen, there are a few different ways to tackle the problem.

The general rule of thumb is to use water-based products to remove water-based stains and use a chemical-based product to remove non water-based stains. Below you will find our recommendations of how to remove some common stains on sealed leathers.

Unsealed leather such as aniline, semi-aniline, suede and nubuck are more tricky, and usually involve re-colouring. If you would like to attempt to clean a stain from aniline leather, only use GT15.5 Foam Cleaner. GT15.5 Foam Cleaner is not guaranteed to work on aniline leathers, but is much less likely to damage the leather than solvent cleaners.

Ink Stains

Luckily, for ink stains there is a simple solution - the Liquid Leather Inkstick. As with most stains, ink stains are much easier to remove if you tackle them right away, so we strongly recommend keeping a Liquid Leather Inkstick just in case you lose control of your pen (or your kids for that matter!)

The Liquid Leather Inkstick is 100% successful on fresh ink when dealing with sealed leather, but even dried ink can usually be removed within a few treatments of an Inkstick. If all else fails, or if you intend to re-colour the leather anyway, then Liquid Leather GT19 Stripping Solvent (not recommended for DIY use) will easily remove ink stains but must be used sparingly.
Glue Glue seems like it would be near impossible to remove from leather without damaging the sealant, but our Liquid Leather GT18 Leather Degreasant and Fabric Cleaner will easily remove most glues. Dab it on, wait, wipe it off. Job done.

Curry Stains

The blend of spices found in curry may be delicious, but the colour pigments in these spices give it a high staining potential, depending on how long the stain has been left on the leather. Luckily, curry stains usually are contained in the sealant, and can be removed with Liquid Leather GT19 Stripping Solvent(not recommended for DIY use) .

Use G19 Stripping Solvent sparingly, drying the leather with a hairdryer between each application as you remove the layers of sealant. Once the stain has gone (it may not have penetrated through the entire sealant), re-seal the leather with GT1 Top Coat T1 Gloss Sealant or GT3 Top Coat T3 Extra Matt Sealant.

Paint Stains

If you’ve been a little careless whilst redecorating the lounge, you may have found some paint stains on your leather sofa. Unfortunately, this is one of the most difficult stains to remove. If the paint is in drips or lumps, try carefully lifting the paint off with a scalpel. For any smudges or streaks, however, re-colouring is usually your only option. Use the Liquid Leather SCUFFmaster Leather Touch-Up Kit to re-colour paint-stained leather.

*Be careful not to cause more damage to the leather when attempting to remove paint stains

Dye Transfer Stains

If you’ve ever worn new denim jeans on a light coloured leather seat, then you’ll know what a dye transfer stain is. To remove one, simply use Liquid Leather GT14 Safety Solvent Cleaner followed by two coats of GT11 Leather Conditioner to restore the leather to its original colour.

For more advice on removing leather stains, read the other articles in our advice centre, attend our next Technicians Training Day or simply contact us.

CLEANING HANDBAGS, CASES AND SHOES

Handbag

Whether vintage or new, designer leather handbags, shoes and cases can cost a fortune on today’s market, so it’s important to clean them with care.

Genuine leather goods, while stylish, are prone to absorbing dirt and bacteria, so regular cleaning is a must. Liquid Leather GT15.5 Foam Cleaner is a gentle leather cleaner that won’t saturate the leather, making it ideal for cleaning most handbags and leather cases, including computer bags (excluding suede and nubuck). Patent leather, with its glossy finish, can usually be cleaned with a damp cloth, but occasional treatment with GT13.5 Protection Cream after cleaning with GT15.5 Foam Cleaner is recommended. Leather shoes can be polished after being treated with GT13.5 Protection Cream, which provides a protective layer between the polish and the leather pores. In the event of scuffs on leather handbags, leather cases and leather shoes, SCUFFmaster dyes can be colour matched to your leather products to repair damage.

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