Caring for Leather FurnitureHousehold Items that can Discolor your Leather.

Over the years, there have been many common household products that my customers were surprised to find would damage their leather furniture.  While most leather does have a protective color and clear coat, it is still possible for common household chemicals to damage most leather finishes.  Here are the 10 most common chemicals I have seen damage customer’s leather.

  1. Hand sanitizer–  Most waterless sanitizers contain alcohol.  Alcohol will eat through color and topcoat on many leathers leaving a discolored area.  So make sure the alcohol has dried before pressing your hands against your leather furniture.
  2. Pet ointments- I’ve had a number of calls from customers who put a skin ointment like flea and tick lotion on their dog.  Later the dog rubbed up next to the leather or laid on the leather and the ointment took the color off the leather.  So keep fido off the leather till the ointment dries fully.
  3. Dish soap–  Mixed in a mild solution of soap and water, dish soap on leather should not hurt it.  On the other hand, i had a call recently where a little guy flicked a bottle of dish soap across the leather and put spots in the finish.  So keep the dish detergent in the kitchen.
  4. Skin cremes-  Many leathers will stain or discolor from the oily, greasy chemicals in skin cremes.  I have seen hand prints occur on leather that don’t go away without professional help.  
  5. Hair gels and chemicals–  Sometimes hair chemicals will take the color off of the headrest area of a finished base/print leather.  More often it happens over time.  The leather is fine for 1 or 2 years and eventually a darkened or discolored area grows that is very difficult to clean or remove.
  6. Nail polish remover– I imagine most of us realize that this one is a no-no.  Still I get lots of calls for nail polish remover having taken the color off of a customers leather furniture.
  7. Windex-  In a pinch, I’ve had a number of customers try to remove a stubborn stain or just clean dirty leather.  It will clean the leather, and take off the color over time.
  8. Simple green-  Same with this powerful degreasing cleaner.  Most people don’t just grab the Simple Green.  They are frustrated because other milder cleaners just won’t take out the stains.  Problem is it will wear out the finish on your leather.  Be sure to check out our sections on cleaning your leather for safer tips on taking out stubborn stains.
  9. Candle Waxes- Sometimes candle wax will drip off a candle, dry on leather and you can just scrape it off the leather with no residue. Other wax candles have oils and dyes in them that will leave an oily stain or dye transfer. 
  10. Hot Tea/Hot Cup-  I’ve seen a number of perfect circles of discoloration on my customers leather seats.  Come to find out, they sat a cup of hot tea or bowl of hot soup on the leather and the head and moisture damaged the leather. 

So, learn from the experiences of some of my customers over the years and keep these chemicals clear of your leather.

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