5 Types of Leather & How to Clean and Repair Them

July 1, 2022

Wondering how to clean, maintain, or repair leather? Start by learning the five main types of leather to get the job done.

Once the delivery person drops off your new leather living room set and you get it positioned in your space, it’s time to kick your feet up and enjoy the beautiful addition to your home. If durability and comfort helped drive your new furniture purchase, keeping your investment in tip-top shape is key. Leather is a hot commodity for furniture and accessories because it stands up to wear and tear and is stylish. But inevitably, pets, children, red wine, and the elements take a toll on any leather purchase. To help your leather furniture and accessories withstand the test of time, it’s important to take steps to keep them clean and maintained.

Creative Colors International, the nation’s leading mobile leather repair franchise, can help you determine the steps you need to take to keep your leather products in like-new condition. CCI’s service technicians provide leather care services, including fixing rips, tears, scratches, burns, and fading, to make your leather furniture and accessories shine.

Main Types of Leather
To understand how to clean your new purchase, start with learning about the five most common types of leather.

  1. Full-Grain Leather. Coming in at the highest price tag, full-grain leather is made from the most durable part of the animal hide. It isn’t buffed or sanded and will develop a patina over time. Full-grain leather is widely recognized as the highest quality leather and sometimes comes with an aniline finish. Aniline dye is translucent and showcases the leather’s natural grain, including all of the hide’s scars and wrinkles. Pigmented full-grain leather is one of the most common leather finishes used for furniture. This type of leather is topped with a resin-grade pigment to help provide uniform color and prevent scuffs, stains, and fading.
  2. Top-Grain Leather. Most commonly used for accessories, like purses, top-grain leather is buffed and sanded to create a uniform appearance. It’s also thinner, which makes it less durable. One type of top-grain leather, nubuck leather, is sanded until it is soft and velvety.
  3. Genuine Leather. The term genuine leather is deceptive. It simply means the product contains leather. Genuine leather is a satisfactory choice for belts or accessories but not a durable option for furniture.
  4. Bonded Leather. Bonded leather is made from scraps of leftover leather combined with plastic. Sometimes bonded leather is painted or embossed to give it the appearance of a higher quality option. While it doesn’t sound like a likely candidate, bonded leather is frequently used as furniture upholstery. Bonded leather is an affordable alternative to high-quality leather and has the appearance of real leather, but it is not as durable. The plastic used in bonded leather degrades quickly. In just a few short years of use, bonded leather can crack and peel. Once this happens, it is nearly impossible to repair.
  5. Faux Leather. If you want a leather look without a high price tag, faux leather can last longer than bonded leather. Faux leather is made entirely of polyurethane and vinyl. It won’t smell or wear like real leather, but it is easy to clean and not prone to cracking or peeling like bonded leather.

How to Clean Leather

Keep in mind that leather comes from a variety of animals and with numerous finishes. Always make sure to read the fine print before you get to work. It’s also a good rule of thumb to test out any cleaner on a small section of your leather product as a precaution. CCI has a line of non-toxic and water-based leather cleaning and conditioning products available to purchase online or from a service technician.

Bonded leather, genuine leather, and faux leather require minimal effort to keep clean. Simply wipe it down with a damp cloth and let it air dry. If the piece needs vacuuming, make sure to use a soft bristle attachment to prevent damage.

High-quality leather, including full-grain and top-grain leather, requires some additional maintenance. Residential customers can extend the life of their leather products by relying on CCI’s leather repair services to provide regular maintenance, and area businesses can schedule recurring on-site visits with CCI to re-condition commercial products, including dental chairs, restaurant booths, and fleet interiors.

Here’s how to maintain leather to keep your products in like-new condition between visits.

  • Vacuum and wipe the leather down with a soft cloth a couple of times a month to keep it looking fresh. If you notice a stain, CCI offers 8-ounce, quart- and gallon-sized leather cleaners to get the job done. CCI's white poly-cotton leather conditioning soft cloths are ideal for cleaning leather.
  • Treating the furniture with a leather conditioner once or twice a year will prevent it from drying out or cracking. Conditioning the leather keeps it supple. Put our Leather Conditioner directly on a soft cloth and apply it gently to the surface of the leather. Use a separate cloth to buff the surface and allow the leather to air dry.

We Can Fix That!
If your leather product needs to be deep cleaned or is damaged, leave the work to a CCI professional. CCI’s service technicians know how to repair leather and can come to your home or business to restore your leather to like-new condition. Our technicians have all the tools they need to make repairs in their mobile vans. We can also repair seams, replace parts, and help restore color.

In addition to furniture repair and restoration services, CCI’s technicians can make repairs to some of your favorite leather clothes, like old leather jackets. Our certified technicians undergo extensive training that allows us to provide you with the best possible services. CCI offers leather care services for every industry across many markets, including automotive, RVs, marine, aviation, healthcare, and foodservice.

Request a Free Quote
If your leather furniture is starting to show its age, CCI is ready to help. Our service technicians know how to salvage virtually any type of furniture and save you time and up to 90% in expenses. Click here to request a free quote.