How can you make suede more durable?

How do I care for my leather furniture?

Leather is an extremely hard-wearing and long-lasting material. It is versatile, naturally relatively impermeable to water and yet breathable. People have always used tanned animal skins for clothing and everyday objects. Most types of leather come from animals that are bred for meat, i.e. beef, lamb and pork. The versatile cowhide is extremely popular here. But more unusual types of leather, such as crocodile, snake or ostrich leather, are also used for handbags, shoes and hats.

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There are not only different types of leather, such as cowhide or sheep leather, but also different types of leather, such as smooth and suede.

Smooth and suede

Smooth and suede differ primarily in terms of their surface structure. The grain side, i.e. the original skin surface, is used for smooth leather. This has a species-specific leather structure. The side facing the meat (meat side) is used for suede. Colloquially, suede is also known as suede.

1. What is pigmented smooth leather?

As is now known, the upper side of the animal's skin is used for smooth leather. In order to make smooth leather more durable and less sensitive to stains, some smooth leather that has already been dyed through is additionally provided with a binding agent-based, covering color layer. This processing of the leather is called "finishing". This coating makes the leather water-repellent on the one hand, but on the other hand also robs the leather of its breathability, so that one tends to sweat more when it comes into contact with the skin. The leather is called pigmented or covered smooth leather. Treated leathers of this type are very firm to the touch and feel rather cold.

2. What is open-pored smooth leather?

Smooth leather without this finishing, on the other hand, is referred to as open-pore leather or aniline leather. This leather is chemically unchanged and retains its unique, characterful and completely natural look. All natural phenomena, such as insect bites, abrasions and other scars, are retained as a natural feature and can be set in scene with an individual patina by hand. If the patination is appropriately thin, one speaks of refined leather or semi-aniline leather. If this layer of color is particularly thick, the leather must be declared as "pigmented leather" again. The natural leather structure is completely retained in the open-pored leather.

Natural leather is in exchange with the ambient air and is therefore always at a pleasant temperature. This leather has a warm feel and is also buttery soft. Aniline leather is considered to be of extremely high quality, as the leather has to be handpicked and of very good quality. However, it also has one major drawback, namely its sensitivity. Moisture penetrates very quickly and stains can appear. The leather fades more easily over time. We therefore recommend regular maintenance. Leather furniture made from high-quality, open-pored smooth leather has an unmistakable appearance. With this seating furniture, the workmanship and the other components are usually of the highest quality.

Our tip: If you want to know whether your leather is pigmented or porous, do this
Water test. A drop of water on a pigmented smooth leather does not penetrate the surface due to the coating, but pearls off. If the leather is open-pored, the water is drawn in immediately.

3. Synthetic and split leather

Leather hides, such as those from cattle, can easily reach a thickness of around 4 1/2 cm. This means that these are much too thick to process and are therefore divided horizontally into two parts. This process is known as splitting. From what was originally one dermis you now get two, one the upper part, the so-called grain gap, and the lower part, the flesh gap. The grain gap has a smooth and a rough side and is processed normally as smooth leather.

The meat gap, on the other hand, consists of two rough sides. This part is also known as split leather. Only suede products can be made from the two rough sides of the meat gap. Without further treatment, this layer is very thin and unstable. By applying a plastic coating, the unstable split leather is now made into artificial leather. A grain and pore structure is embossed into the surface, which is often modeled on a natural grain pattern. Depending on the thickness of the coating, the leather may now only be sold as coated leather or, if more than a third is made of plastic, only as artificial leather. This is also called PU leather. Some tanneries also glue a film coating based on smooth leather directly onto the split leather in order to create the appropriate stability and appearance. Synthetic leather is insensitive, but no matter what type of coating, synthetic leather always feels hard and cold. The coating also no longer provides breathability.

Our tip: Smell the leather. Real leather has an unmistakable smell of its own. Artificial leather, on the other hand, smells either completely neutral or like plastic. So don't just pay attention to the handle when buying, but also hold your nose close.

4. Suede, nubuck & suede - what is what?

Suede is the generic term for all velvety leather surfaces. Suede from the meat gap as well as from the meat side is called velor. If it is slightly sanded, nubuck is obtained, whereby nubuck leather has a rather finer pile compared to suede. Nubuck leather is used for the manufacture of shoes, gloves, upholstered furniture and bags of all kinds. Nubuck leather is velvety, whereas suede is somewhat coarser-grained and therefore feels rougher. Suede is open-pored and therefore quite breathable. That is why it is often used for sports shoes and work gloves.

How do I care for and clean different types of leather?

The care needs of each leather product are individual. They primarily depend on how the leather has been processed and dyed. But age and intended use also play a major role. While the care products for a shoe tend to be more waterproof, the furniture leather needs to be re-greased and protected against abrasion.

1. The care of smooth leather

Pieces of leather, regardless of whether it is a leather sofa, leather handbag or leather jacket, can be a lifelong companion. It is important to take good care of the leather right from the start, because all natural fats and oils are removed from the leather hide during tanning and later replaced by artificial fats and oils. The only problem is that these artificial oils and fats, which make the leather appear soft and supple when you buy it, do not last long. You work your way out in everyday life and over time. So that the leather does not become brittle, hard and cracked, it is therefore important to grease it regularly. The task of good leather care is to preserve the leather in good condition for as long as possible. Newer leathers in particular are seldom cared for. If you have new leather furniture, we recommend that you grease the leather furniture at least once before the first heating season. We'll show you how to do this in the video on the right.

How do I properly care for my leather furniture?
1. Regularly grease your leather furniture before and after the heating season
2. Use a lint-free cloth for this
3. Let the furniture dry after application

In addition to the care products available from specialist retailers, there are of course a whole range of home remedies, which some users are very enthusiastic about. A popular home remedy is, for example, unscented body lotion. This is applied to the leather furniture, jacket or shoes with a soft cloth or sponge. Let the body lotion take effect briefly and then polish with a soft cloth. For more shine and a fresher leather color, some insiders rub the leather with a dollop of vinegar. Castor oil is also an insider tip. If dry and stiff leather items are regularly rubbed with it, the leather should become softer again in the long run. We definitely advise against coconut or olive oil. This quickly turns the leather rancid and starts to smell unpleasant.

With all the good tips, one should not forget that they may have been a few decades under their belt. The processing and coloring of the leather has continued to develop during this time. The leather is tanned and colored differently. We therefore advise you to use a leather care product from a specialist retailer. These are optimally matched to the current leather processing.

Our tip: Do a "trial sample" before you decide on a care product. There are many care products with a very strong odor. This would not be a nuisance when caring for shoes, but you certainly don't want to have the strong smell of your leather sofa care in your nostrils when you are watching TV.

Leather greases with beeswax are particularly recommended. The natural fat cares for the leather and is water-repellent due to its beeswax content. It makes the leather soft and supple and has no added silicone. Care products with lanolin or avocado oil also extend the life of your leather and leave a brilliant shine. On the other hand, care products with silicone content are not recommended, as this cannot penetrate the leather. In addition, correct storage or the correct storage space for the leather / leather furniture is also part of leather care. For example, the leather sofa should not be placed in the direct vicinity of the heating system. Direct sunlight should also be avoided.

Our tip: Dust your leather furniture regularly. Dust also removes moisture from the leather.

2. And what special care does my suede need?

Suede has a velvety surface and therefore looks very valuable. At the same time, the roughened surface is also very sensitive. Suede is hardly water-resistant and very sensitive to stains. Therefore, it also needs regular impregnation in order to better protect it from the weather. You can brush off dust and light dirt with a special leather brush. Stubborn stains can be carefully removed with a little sandpaper. Suede can also be freshened up with a little steam.

3. Can I wash leather in the washing machine?

Believe it or not, some types of leather can actually be machine washed. This applies in particular to two-layer animal skins, such as leather from beef, calf, lamb, goat or deer. In the case of single-layer animal skins (e.g. sheepskin), it is better not to use the machine wash cycle and stick to the tried and tested hand wash. In general, leather should not be washed too often and if so, it should be washed cold or at a maximum of 30 degrees Celsius. Use wool detergent or special leather detergents for this. Heavy-duty detergents and fabric softeners, on the other hand, are not suitable. These agents degrease the leather and also remove its color. It is also important that the leather dries evenly at room temperature after the wash. Please do not put the leather to dry in the blazing sun or on the heater. This makes the leather brittle. A whole leather sofa, on the other hand, naturally does not fit in the washing machine. Cleaning with neutral soap and distilled water is recommended here, as the neutral pH value of the soap prevents the leather from drying out.

4. I spilled fat - what can I do?

Regardless of whether you have pigmented or open-pored leather, you should act quickly with grease stains. First, place a paper towel on the fresh grease stain. The paper absorbs the grease that is still liquid immediately. Then sprinkle the stain thickly with flour or baby powder and let it work for a while until it is dry. Then carefully brush or vacuum the flour.

5. What helps with ballpoint pen stains?

Light ballpoint pen stains can be removed with painter's tape. To do this, stick the masking tape onto the line to be treated and carefully pull it off again. This removes excess ink. This process must be repeated more often if necessary. With somewhat stronger ballpoint pen stains, it becomes more difficult and you usually need professional advice. We recommend that you contact your specialist dealer.

6. Help! Cat scratches

Cat owners may know it: the fluffy house tiger climbs with its less fluffy claws on the leather furniture and they are there, the scratch marks on the leather furniture. Such scratch marks can hardly be avoided with cats living in the household. Fortunately, however, there are a number of specialty products available from specialist retailers in order to at least partially remedy these, depending on their extent.