Long-Term Care and Maintenance of Cabin Seating Leather
Genuine leather is a natural material that will dry out, become brittle, and crack over time in low humidity if not properly cleaned and conditioned. Regular maintenance that includes dust and dirt removal and light cleaning will preserve the appearance and the softness of leather for decades. It does not take much time, it is not expensive, and best of all, it is not difficult!
Get to Know Your Leather
Before embarking on a cleaning regimen, it is critical to know what type of leather you have, because the type of leather dictates how you should treat stains and spots. The three types of leather typically used for aircraft, automotive, and marine upholstery are aniline, semi-aniline, and pigmented leather. This information is typically available from your upholstery shop or refurbishment center, or the leather supplier if known.
Aniline leather is a type of leather dyed exclusively with soluble dyes. The dye colors the leather without producing the uniform surface of a topcoat paint or insoluble pigmented sealant. The resulting product retains the hide’s natural surface, showing grain and hair cells, and is porous.
Semi-Aniline and Pigmented Leathers
Semi-aniline and pigmented (finished) leathers receive a coating of color that offers a very uniform surface color. These can handle tougher cleanings than aniline leather, since they have a protective top layer. If you are having difficulty identifying which type of leather you have, semi-aniline and pigmented leather tends to be stiffer and more durable, and unprotected leather appears less uniform in surface color, softer and more easily marked.
No matter the type of leather, we recommend staying away from leather cleaners that have ammonia or alkalies as ingredients.
For Light Cleaning
Use a soft towel to wipe the surface of your leather seats to remove any loose crumbs or dirt. Feel free to use the same towel to lightly buff any areas that appear dull or lackluster.
Use a reputable leather cleaner (like our Keralux Basic Cleaner for semi-aniline or pigmented leather) or a mild solution of warm water and simple detergent (Ivory Soap Flakes is perfect). Use a soft sponge, a damp cotton cloth, or a microfiber towel to clean. Saturate the sponge or cloth in the soapy water (or in clear distilled water if using a cleaner), and gently wring out excess liquid, and gently wipe the surface with the cleaner. After cleaning the surface, wipe off any soap residue with a clean damp cloth. Immerse the cleaning cloth in a container with rinse water, wring out the cleaning cloth, and immerse in soapy water again, wringing out the excess as above before cleaning the next seat. Repeat the process until finished.
How to Clean Spots and Stains
You will occasionally need to address stains on the leather covers more aggressively than you would with routine cleaning methods. The critical step here is to act as quickly as possible to remove the foreign material from the leather surface. To clean the remaining residue, follow these guidelines:
What You Will Need
Mild, non-detergent soap or a leather cleaner
Soft, white, microfiber cloths
For Pure Aniline Leather
Take a clean, white, microfiber cloth and absorb the spill. If it does not disappear, follow the cleaning recommendations above.
For Protected Leather (Semi-Aniline and Pigmented)
Take a clean, white, microfiber cloth and dampen it in distilled water, then dab the spot. Let it air dry. If the stain doesn’t go away, mix mild, non-detergent soap and lukewarm water together. Dip the cloth in it and dab the spot. Blot it dry with another cloth.
For oil-based stains, dab the stain with a dry, white, microfiber cloth. Do not use water. If needed, sprinkle baking soda on top of the spot, let it sit for a few hours, then wipe it off.
For ink stains, dip a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and lightly dab the stain, or apply a dab of hand sanitizer to the spot. Let it remain for a few minutes then blot it off with a clean cloth. Repeat if necessary. Once the stain is gone, take a damp cloth and dab it on the same spot. Then dry it with a dry cloth.
For tougher stains like wine, take a dry cloth and soak up the liquid. Then take mild soapy water or a leather cleaning solution and gently dab the spot with a clean cloth.
Always test any cleaning products on an inconspicuous area of your furniture first to see if any damage or change of color occurs as a result of the application.
For Abrasions, Scrapes, or Cuts
If your leather has large or deep cuts and scrapes, we recommend working with a professional to properly repair the leather.
For small scuff marks and scratches, simply rub your finger over the blemishes. The natural oils in the leather will take care of the rest. If this doesn’t work, use a clean cloth and leather oil or conditioner to buff the scuffs.
Conditioning your leather covers
After each general cleaning, prevent damage, restore shine, and keep your leather seating and accessories soft and supple by applying a manufacturer-recommended conditioner one-to-two times a year. When you condition the upholstery, make sure to use a damp cloth to avoid drenching the furniture. We recommend using circular motions beginning at the top of the seatback and working your way down to the bottom cushion. Let it sit overnight; then, in the morning, take a dry cloth and buff the leather once more. Further protect your leather furniture by keeping it out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources to prevent fading, cracking, and flaking.
Keralux® Basic Leather Care Set
You may consider giving your client one of our Keralux® Basic Leather Care sets as a fly-away gift! This kit includes a soft leather cleaner, a leather conditioner, a sponge and cleaning cloth, and instructions for the care and cleaning of their new leather seat covers. It says that you care about the long-term appearance of their interior, as well as your pride in your team’s workmanship in the new interior you’ve just delivered.
Contact Us to order your Keralux Basic Leather Care Set today or with any questions about leather care for your aircraft, automotive, and marine seating.