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Caring for Leather Furniture
Removing Ink from Your Leather PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 26 October 2009 23:22

Here is another article by Kevin Gillan of Advanced Leather Solutions in SanFransisco, Ca.  Thanks Kevin, you do great work.  Here is a link to his fine professional leather care product line.



Ink on leather – Did the two year-old get a little artistic? Is the tot a budding Picasso perhaps? Or, is it a simple errant ink stripe from that pesky ball point pen? In either case ink on leather is a common problem and completely solvable. The only question is if it requires professional attention or, can you resolve the issue yourself.

Here are the basics:

  1. Ink is primarily a dye. As such the ink has re-colored the leather. It is not harmful to the leather. So the problem is strictly aesthetic.
  2. If you can get to it quickly, then using a damp cloth, attempt to transfer as much ink off the leather as you can before it sets in the leather. Gently wipe or blot. In a short period of time, the ink travels into the leather. Don’t rub. The heat from the friction generated by rubbing can cause the ink to migrate more quickly into the leather, and possibly disturb or eliminate the leather’s grain pattern. Keep in mind that once ink penetrates into the leather it essentially has re-colored the leather. No amount of aggressive rubbing will change that fact. You might also try a soft artist eraser, gently tracing the ink line. The objective is to pull the ink out before it has a chance to set.
  3. Once it is set, removing ink from the leather is NOT a cleaning issue. In almost all cases, any cleaner used that is strong enough to pull out the ink, won’t know the difference between the color of the ink and the color of the leather. Aggressive cleaning may remove the ink, but will also remove the leather color as well. And, aggressive cleaning chemicals will do more harm (pH damage) to the leather than the ink.
  4. The use of ink sticks or other products advertised to remove ink is risky business. The active ingredient is a solvent intended to neutralize the ink. Its success depends on how sensitive your leather is to chemical intervention. If the finish on your leather is chemically resistant it may work, but then again, it may pull the color out of the leather, may simply smear the ink around, may pull the protective top coat from the leather, or may not do anything at all. Ink sticks and the like are clearly a “Buyer Beware” issue. Be careful.
  5. Consider this - one attribute of ink is that it migrates. That is to say the ink moves. This means that an accidental ink stripe may be absorbed into the leather and present a gradually fading reference that dissipates within a few weeks. So, a minor ink stripe may disappear of its own accord. Therefore, as time is not critical, leave it alone for a few weeks and see what happens. It may disappear altogether or become faint enough as to no longer be an issue. However, if there is a high concentration of dye (i.e. permanent marker like a Sharpie pen) or a larger volume (ink spill) then what you see will be there for a long, long time.
  6. There is a two-step process to resolve it:
    • A solvent, (e.g. denatured alcohol) is used to neutralize the ink, knowing that it will in all likelihood affect the color of the leather. If you want to try this step yourself, then use a Q-Tip or like device moistened with alcohol and trail down the ink line. Keep turning the Q-Tip to a clean area so that you don’t transfer the ink that has been absorbed by the Q-Tip back on the leather. If the ink has been neutralized, and you haven’t disturbed the color, you’re very lucky.
    • If the color has been affected, then it’s on to step # 2. Using an airbrush, and the properly mixed leather color, the offended area is airbrushed and viola - the problem disappears. The final step is to apply a top coat with the air brush. The top coat is the primary protection on the leather and it also dictates the sheen.
    • It is important to note that simply coloring over the ink is likely not effective. Remember, one of ink’s attributes is migration. If you simply color over, then the ink will migrate up through the color coating and present itself all over again
  7. If you do have set in ink, then let me know and I will help you.  Click here to contact Chris in the Baltimore/Washington area.
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 February 2010 14:57
Cleaning Mold or Mildew PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 26 October 2009 23:16

Thanks to Kevin Gillan from www.advleather.com for this post on dealing with mold or mildew.

Source of Mold and Mildew

Spores of fungi and bacteria are present in the air. High humidity, warm temperatures, and poor ventilation provide the ambient conditions that allow mold growth. Generally, stagnant air above 80% relative humidity may support mold. If above 95%, the humidity will certainly encourage fungi and bacteria to grow. Soiling, organic residues and stains will enhance the growth of mildew on leather and fabrics.

Removing Mildew from Leather and Fabric Surfaces

First, remove loose mold from outer coverings of upholstered articles with a soft bristle brush. Do this outdoors, if possible, to prevent scattering mildew spores in the house. Wash brush before re-using.

Run a vacuum cleaner attachment over the surface of the leather and fabric panels to draw out more of the mold. Remember that the mold spores are being drawn into the bag of the vacuum cleaner. If the vacuum has a disposable bag, remove and dispose of it immediately. If not, empty the bag carefully (preferably outdoors) to avoid scattering mold spores in the house.

Do everything conveniently possible to dry the leather - use an electric heater and a fan to carry away moist air. Sun and air the article to help stop mold growth.

If you have finished leather (leather with a topically applied pigment coating), and mildew remains, sponge lightly with thick suds of soap and wipe with a clean damp cloth. In doing this, avoid getting the leather wet with excessive amounts of moisture. DO NOT USE THIS STRATEGY UNLESS YOU ARE SURE THE LEATHER HAS A FINISH ON IT (see our leather care page to help you identify your leather type). In all cases, do a test in a non-obvious area of your leather to ensure that the suds will not darken, stain or discolor the leather. If you have cushions with zipper access, and you suspect the fungi or bacteria have migrated into the internals of the cushion, remove the cushion cores and treat accordingly, or replace with new.

If necessary, a final step to remove mildew on upholstered leather furniture is to gently wipe it with a cloth moistened with diluted alcohol (1 cup denatured or isopropyl alcohol to 4 cup water). Dry the article thoroughly. Once again, apply this strategy only if you are sure it’s finished leather, and only after you have tested in a non-obvious location on your furniture. Be aware that this alcohol solution may adversely effect the top-coat and surface finish of your leather so only do this as a last ditch effort and only after thoroughly testing on a hidden part of your leather.

If mold has grown into the inner part of your furniture frame, open the underside dust cover, then dry and air out the internals as best as possible. You may need to send it to a reliable disinfecting and fumigating service. Such services are often listed under "Exterminating and Fumigating" or "Pest Control" services in the yellow pages of the telephone directory. If they have an “ozone chamber,” have them put your furniture into the chamber for at least 48 hours.

Here are some tips on preventing mildew.
  1. Keep The Leather Clean - Soiling can supply enough food for mildew to start growing when moisture and temperature are right. Greasy films, such as those that form on kitchen walls, also contain many nutrients for mildew-causing molds.
  2. Get Rid of Dampness - Dampness is often caused by condensation of moisture from humid air onto cooler surfaces. Excessive moisture may indicate that repairs or additional insulation are needed. Replace cracked or defective mortar. Some basements are continually wet from water leaking through crevices in the wall. Make sure outside drainage is adequate.
  3. Control Moisture - For waterproofing concrete and other masonry walls above ground, apply two coats of cement paint, tinted with mineral coloring if desired. Waterproofed coatings to seal absorbent brick and other outside surfaces may be needed. Spread a layer of moisture-barrier material over the soil in crawl spaces under houses. You can use heavy roofing paper or polyethylene plastic film. Good ventilation is important. If possible, do not enclose the crawl space. In extreme cases, a fan or blower may be needed to move the humid air from under the building. Cooking, laundering, and bathing may add 2 gallons or more of water a day to the house. If circulation is not adequate use some type of exhaust fan. If your clothes dryer is equipped with a vent, have it exhausted to the outside to remove moist air.
  4. Dry the Air - Cool air holds less moisture than warm air. Properly installed air-conditioning systems remove moisture from the air by taking up warm air, cooling it (which removes the moisture) and circulating the cool dry air back into the room. In rooms that are not air-conditioned-especially the basement--mechanical dehumidifiers are useful. A humidistat can be attached to the unit to control the humidity. Mechanical dehumidifiers, however, can add heat to a room. If you are using air-conditioners or dehumidifiers, keep windows and doors closed.
  5. Heat - Get rid of dampness by heating the house for a short time. Then open doors and windows to let out the moisture-laden air. An exhaust fan may be used to force it out.
  6. Circulate the Air - When the air outside is drier than that inside, ventilation allows the dry air to enter, take up excess moisture, and then be carried outside. When natural breezes are not sufficient, you can use electric fans placed in a window, set in a wall, or ducted to the attic to move air from the house. Poorly ventilated rooms get damp and musty during continued wet weather, and furniture in such a room is prone to mildew. Try to improve the air circulation. If necessary, lay the furniture on its back, cut open, or remove the dust cover under your furniture and run a fan into the open space to help dry the internals of your furniture. It may help to dry the inside by running a de-humidifier, pointing the air-flow into the internals of your furniture.
  7. Get Rid of Musty Odors - Get rid of musty odors as soon as possible to prevent further mold growth. Usually musty odors disappear if the area is well heated and dried. If the odors remain, the following treatment may be necessary. On cement floors and on tiled walls and floors, get rid of mustiness by scrubbing with a diluted solution of sodium hypochlorite or other chlorine bleach available in most grocery stores. Use one-half to 1 cup of liquid household bleach to a gallon of water. Rinse with clear water and wipe as dry as possible. Keep windows open until walls and floors are thoroughly dry. DO NOT APPLY THIS SOLUTION TO THE LEATHER.

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 November 2009 12:47
Tips for Cleaning Light Finished Leather PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Chris Repp   
Monday, 26 October 2009 15:32


I wish it were't true, but light colored leathers do get dirtier than darker colors.  But don't let that keep you from buying them if they are what you want.  Just keep a few prevention and cleaning tips in mind.  (I'm speaking primarily to finished leather in this article)

Light leather dirt and stain prevention tips:

  • Newspaper print is a big culprite in staining light leathers.  Try not to throw the paper next to you on the seat of your white leather sofa. 
  • Dye transfer is the enemy!  One of the worst problems we face on light colored leathers is a transfer of dye from a blanket or clothing onto your leather sofa seat.  Most  times a dry fabric will not transfer dye onto your leather.  It must be wet or bleed because of a chemical spilled onto the fabric and the sofa.  Just be careful of wet fabric, especially unwashed fabric, on your light colored leather sofa.
  • Professional routine maintenance is a form of prevention.  Most of the time you can clean and maintain your leather furniture with a good cleaning/ care product.  Light leather may be the exception.  I have worked with many consumers with light leather who have a pro, me in this case, come out every 1 or 2 years to professionally clean and protect your light leather.
  • Try to rotate the prime seating area.  I can face the sofa and the wall and always tell where the best T.V. viewing seat is located.  Why?  Because it is the dirtiest and most worn seat.  Try to either rotate the pillows or move the furniture to change the wear pattern.
  • Watch out for the soot from a wood burning stove or fireplace.  Dark airborne soot will settle into the grain of light leather. 

Light leather dirt and stain cleaning tips:

  • You will need to clean your light leather set more often than a darker leather.  If you clean a darker leather sofa 2 times a year, clean a lighter one 4 times a year.
  • Dust particles will settle down into the grain of your light leather over time.  So, be sure to keep it dusted off with a soft, dry cloth or soft brush attachment to a vaccum.
  • Once the dirt settles into the grain, cleaning only with a cloth and good leather cleaner will not do the trick.  You need exfoliating gloves, a short bristled brush or ultrafine/no scratch scotchbrite pad to get at the dirt in the cracks.  Be sure to watch our finished leather cleaning video to learn the best techniques.
  • Many food, dirt and even oil based stains will wipe off of even a light finshed leather.  Just don't let them sit for long or dye may transfer into the leather.
  • Sometimes dirt hides scratches, fading or minor cracks in light colored leathers.  Once you give it a good cleaning scratches or small cracks may appear.  A good leather pro will be able to restore the color and finish on the leather. 

I'll close with a picture of  part the way throught cleaning a light colored leather sectional.  So don't shy away from light leather if it's really what you want, it can stay beatiful too.


Click here to learn more about the excellent products we recommend you use to care for your leather furniture.

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 January 2010 22:55
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