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Leather Furniture Facts and Care Tips

Learn what you need to know about leather furnishings and how it compares to fabric furniture.

If you're like most consumers, when it comes to the final decision-making process, there may be some last-minute doubts about what furniture is best for you and your home. And if you're considering leather furniture, you may have some questions about how leather differs from fabric.

So, Dallas-based custom leather furniture manufacturer American Leather (www.americanleather.com) confronts some of the most common myths and misperceptions about leather furniture.

Here are the facts that will have you making your next purchase in complete confidence.

Myth: Leather furniture doesn't last!

Fact: The fact is, leather furniture is something you buy for a lifetime. Since leather is a natural product, aging brings out its natural patina, making it even more beautiful over time. And since leather furniture is something you can enjoy for years to come, this is a purchase that makes a sound investment.

Myth: Leather furniture is only for the rich!

Fact: Even though leather furniture brings your home a rich look and feel, you don't have to be rich to enjoy leather furniture. Because leather wears in and fabric wears out, you'll find that leather lasts much longer than fabric and can be a better value.

Myth: Leather furniture is too hard to care for!

Fact: Leather is easy to care for. Just use a conditioner every 6-12 months and wipe up spills as they occur with a clean cloth. Avoid using normal cleaning supplies -- like soaps, detergents, solvents, etc.

Myth: Leather furniture is easily damaged by animals and kids!

Fact: Unless your dog thinks your new leather couch is a chew toy or your cat thinks it's a scratching post, your leather furniture is as safe as any other furniture in the house. For more peace of mind, select a protected leather for your furniture, which has an extra finish applied to it. This helps protect the leather so pets and kids can sit on the couch with none of the usual worries.

Myth: Leather furniture is either too cold in winter or too hot in summer!

Fact: Leather seats in a car do get hot in summer and cold in winter. But for leather furniture indoors, you'll find that it warms to your body heat in the winter. In the summer, since it's natural and can breathe, leather stays pleasantly cool. Just keep it out of the sun (which is hard on the color, too).

Here are some tips and tricks for keeping leather furniture beautiful and carefree for many years to come. (Please also refer to the care instructions provided for the specific type of leather you purchase.)

  • Under normal usage/conditions, regular dry-cloth dusting and vacuum cleaning in crevices or along the bottom is all that is necessary to clean your furniture.
  • The use of a good leather conditioner is recommended every 6-12 months.
  • Protect your furniture from sun and direct light. Like any upholstery material, leather can fade to some degree if exposed to the sun.

Suggested Methods of Cleaning

  • Always try any cleaning method in a hidden area first to convince yourself of the results!
  • For minor spots and spills, wipe up any excess liquid immediately with a clean absorbent cloth or sponge. If necessary, use a lightly moistened soft cloth with clean lukewarm water, and let it air dry naturally. If water is used, clean the entire area where the spot occurred.
  • Do not use soap or soak the stain heavily with water. This may cause more damage than the stain itself.
  • Do not use cleaning solvents, furniture polish, oils, varnish, abrasive cleaners, detergent soaps, or ammonia water.
  • For butter, oil, or grease stains, wipe off excess with a clean dry cloth, and then leave alone as the spot should dissipate into the leather after a short period of time.
  • If the stain persists, it is recommended that a professional leather specialist clean the leather to avoid any potential damage to the leather itself.
  • For minor or slight scratches on the surface, use a chamois or clean fingers to gently buff the scratch. If needed, moisten lightly with distilled water to work scratches out.
  • Remember that leather is a natural product and requires some care to maintain the natural beauty of the hide.

Source: American Leather Furniture, 2006

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