In recent years , leather cleaning has moved from a specialty service offered by very few companies to a higher demand service that more cleaning and restoration professionals have had to include in the services they provide.
Between 20 and 30% of the furniture sold in recent years has been leather. Consumers purchased these products in the ( mistaken ) belief that leather is an “easy care” product that requires no professional cleaning. This belief created a great demand early on, and neglect during the first years of leather’s popularity. As these years passed, more and more consumers are finding that they are not satisfied with the performance of their leather goods, and that they need the help of trained professionals.
Furniture manufacturers use many ways to classify leather. The classification most practical for professional cleaners are those that help separate the leather according to it’s durability and cleanability. The three basic categories defined in this manner are Protected, Aniline, and Nubuck leather.
Protected Leather : Protected leather has A pigment coat over the surface of the leather itself. This coating is sealed with a finish that leaves a fairly durable surface. This durable finish material is susceptible to damage from prolonged exposure to body oils and improper cleaning agents. Protected leather is by far the most common leather material used today.
Aniline Leather : Aniline leather is the most expensive and is considered to be the highest quality leather. Aniline leather is dyed with ” transparent dyes ” . This means that although the dye may change the color of the leather, the original natural characteristics of the leather are still visible. Although protective finishes are sometimes applied, the lack of the durable protective coating that Protected leather has makes Aniline very difficult to clean and restore. Aniline leather is also susceptible to color loss from improper cleaning agents and will fade quickly from environmental factors.
Nubuck Leather : Like Aniline, Nubuck is an ” unprotected leather ” . The main difference between Aniline and Nubuck is texture. Nubuck leather is mechanically buffed to create a nap, much like brushed denim clothing. This nap creates a soft almost velvet hand. However, the larger, porous exposed surface is extremely absorbent to spills and body oils. When body oils and spills absorb deeply into Nubuck, it is extremely time consuming to restore the original color and texture. The popularity, but subsequent disappointments with Nubuck have created the growth of microfiber synthetic materials.