As leather sofas are available in various styles and designs, they can be a great addition to the coastal décor of the living room or patio in your beach house.
Yet, it is most important to know how to properly care for your leather sofa to avoid it getting damaged by water, liquids, rain, or air humidity.
Keep reading through the article to find out exactly how!
Is A Leather Sofa Waterproof?
Many think that leather is waterproof, but that’s not the case. Genuine leather is a natural material and is extremely porous, so cracks and watermarks can appear if it has not been properly treated in a timely manner.
Even though real leather has a sturdy composition and is water-resistant to some extent, it is not considered fully waterproof as it can absorb water easily.
Only top grain or full grain leather that’s made from the toughest part of the animal skin, makes it the most water-resistant and durable form of leather.
Full grain leather needs to be dried quickly enough after it gets wet as it is permeable and could crack or even rot. But it’s advised to treat it with a waterproofing spray or wax for protection from the elements and to increase waterproofness.
Since the top grain leather undergoes a pigmentation process to seal the pores, it’s almost completely waterproof, unless you leave stagnant liquid on it.
However, if you prefer a cheaper sofa material option that provides reliable water resistance and durability, you may consider faux leather, semi-aniline leather, or oiled tanned leather.
Faux or fake leather tends to not absorb water and the water droplets will puddle on top of the surface. As faux leather is made from polyurethane, which is a type of plastic, then it is already waterproofed.
Semi-aniline leather is water-resistant and offers superior durability. It has a thin clear finish that provides an extra barrier against spills. It will make the liquid puddle on its surface and then get gradually absorbed.
Oiled tanned leather is a great choice for extreme or heavy-duty usage. Apart from looking natural, relaxed, and rugged (which is perfect for a sofa in a beach house), it is water-resistant, sturdy yet supple, low maintenance, and long-lasting.
Keep in mind that unfinished leather forms such as suede, aniline, or brushed nubuck will absorb liquids instantly. All these fabrics need to be treated with rubbing or denatured alcohol only.
But there are several ways to protect real leather from water damage, which is the closest you’ll get to waterproofing. We will cover them later in the article, so read on.
What Happens When A Leather Sofa Gets Wet?
You might be wondering if your leather sofa gets ruined in the rain or from liquid spills.
When the leather material gets wet, the natural oils it contains will bind to the water molecules. When the water evaporates and gets dry, it pulls the oils out of it. The loss of natural oils in the leather makes it lose its flexibility and supple quality, and it becomes brittle.
It is common sense is to remove the larger watermarks as quickly as possible because they will eventually dry out the leather, causing it to crack and tear.
A few raindrops here and there are not likely to destroy the material, but they can leave it looking dirty and unsightly.
Will Water Damage A Leather Sofa?
Water is the biggest enemy of any leather sofa. While a few drops of water are not going to seriously damage your lounge suite, a large amount of moisture or spills left on for too long will ruin your leather sofa or armchairs. If you leave the water to dry, unwanted stains are likely to remain on the material, causing it to crack or rip.
Simply put, liquids will destroy leather if you let them soak into the material without doing anything about it.
Leather also has a tendency to shrink when it gets soaked and then has heat applied to it. So make sure that you do not dry your leather sofa in a hot place or dry it fast by applying excessive heat, e.g. with a hairdryer.
In addition, luxurious leather is prone to mildew and mold growth if it’s placed in areas with extreme levels of moisture and heat. Leather can become moldy easily as only one spore is needed to start a colony. Thus, it’s essential to remove mold stains from the sofa as soon as you notice them.
Will Salt Water Ruin A Leather Sofa?
The saltwater has corrosive capabilities. It will soak into the material, eventually dry out and leave the salt behind. This will cause stains that will damage your sofa. Stains from saltwater are white in color and can look really ugly, especially on a dark-colored sofa.
However, sea or salt water stains can be easy to remove as long as they are still fresh and not completely dry.
So remember not to sit on the leather in a wet swimsuit or throw a wet beach towel on it, as the saltwater exposure will stain and destroy your couch!
Can Humidity Destroy A Leather Sofa?
If you live in a coastal area or in a humid climate, you will need to take special care of your leather sofa, especially if it’s in an outdoor space.
Research shows that the best relative humidity for leather is between 30 and 60 percent, with air temperatures of 50°F to 70°F.
If the leather gets exposed to high humidity conditions, it can rot. But it’s not something that happens overnight. Leaving your leather couch in a humid environment for weeks or months will eventually cause damage.
Humidity is not good for real leather. Prolonged exposure to humid weather can promote bacteria and mold growth in the material.
Moisture trapped inside the sofa will lead to the growth of bacteria and mold, causing the leather to rot. Treat your sofa with fungicides and anti-mold agents to protect it from dampness and bacterial contamination.
How Can You Protect Your Leather Sofa From Water Stains, Rain, And Humid Climate?
If you spill liquid on your leather furniture, you should always remember to clean it up right away by simply wiping it off with a soft cloth. Don’t let it dry and leave a stain behind!
Extreme temperatures and sunlight can adversely affect your leather couch. Never place it close to a heater or in direct sunlight.
Switch the ceiling fan on for a few hours to air the sofa out. It’s also good to keep your ceiling fan on as much as possible if you live in a humid climate.
Here are some great ways and home remedies to protect your leather sofa and extend its life.
Vinegar is a good homemade leather cleaner and conditioner. It is a strong cleaning agent but it can hurt the leather material if not used properly.
So, to prevent it from drying out your couch and keep the leather soft, you must mix one part white vinegar with two parts natural oil, such as flaxseed, olive, or lemon oil, in a bowl or a bottle.
Dip a soft cloth and wring it out so it’s barely damp. Start wiping down the leather surface with a gentle motion. Finally, wipe down the sofa with a fresh, dry cloth in a few hours.
To get salty water stains out of leather, mix equal parts warm water and distilled white vinegar. Apply the solution with a microfiber cloth and rub the salt stain in a circular motion to remove the dirt out of the natural fibers.
To keep a leather sofa from getting moldy, pour a small amount of white vinegar into a spray bottle and spray it directly onto the mold stain only. Then, wipe it off with a fresh, clean cloth to prevent mildew and mold from spreading.
● Essential Oils
You can safely put essential oils on the leather. Essential oils such as lemon, orange, lavender, eucalyptus, or citronella not only smell amazing, but they are also antibacterial and antiviral, and provide a cleansing action to the material. Just add 10 to 15 drops of the oil of your choice to a damp cloth and rub into the leather.
Orange oil is the best essential oil for leather. For this reason, many commercial products for cleaning leather contain it. Orange oil can also polish the surface and remove scratches on leather.
Lemon essential oil can help condition leather, prevent cracking, and bring your favorite leather pieces back to life.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is also good for cleaning leather. However, keep in mind that intense cleaning of just one spot can leave uneven colors. So you may opt to treat the entire piece instead. After applying it to the leather, wait until it’s entirely absorbed, usually 48 hours.
● Other Natural Oils To Clean Leather
Mink oil is ideal for increasing the durability and waterproofing leather items as it repels moisture and water. It will soften, moisturize and replenish them, but will eventually oxidize and harden the leather material.
Applying olive oil to leather items can restore their color and also repair minor scratches.
Jojoba oil is beneficial as a leather protector. And you don’t have to worry that your leather couch develops an unpleasant smell or gets sticky.
Coconut oil makes a wonderful conditioner for real leather as well as faux leather items. It will condition and make your leather look smoother while removing the cracks. But since it’s a natural oil, it will darken the material when applied.
Being a fairly light lubricant, baby oil will make your leather couch very soft.
● Other Home Remedies For Cleaning Leather Furniture
Vaseline not only softens but also helps remove scratches and scuffs. It will waterproof the leather superficially and temporarily. Just ensure you don’t use it too often, as being a petroleum-based product, it can dry out and cause the leather to crack and splinter.
Beeswax is amazing for waterproofing leather items that are exposed to the elements. It repels water and provides some lubrication to prevent the hardening of leather in everyday use, keeping it supple.
Shea butter works perfectly to soften and maintain moisture in leather items. It hydrates the leather and seals moisture in, which keeps it soft, supple, and resistant to water and dirt.
Lanolin is a great moisturizer that can soften leather more than any other branded conditioner.
Washing Up Liquid
Washing-up liquid can be used to get watermarks off leather. Mix a few drops of mild dish soap in a bowl with lukewarm water. Use a slightly damp sponge or a soft, lint-free cloth and wipe the stain gently. Then leave it for a couple of minutes and wipe off with a dry, clean cloth.
If you’re planning on using baby wipes, or Clorox wipes, to clean your leather sofa, make sure to only use wipes without alcohol. The alcohol in baby wipes will make the leather lose its natural oils, making it brittle and dry. Try to use only all-natural products, without harmful chemicals.
● Steam Cleaning
Steam cleaning might be an effective way to kill germs and get rid of stains, dirt, mold, and soil from your leather sofa. If you live in a hot and humid climate, occasional steam cleaning will be great to keep your leather furniture looking fresh and like new.
However, you should not try to steam clean by yourself as you could irreversibly damage the leather. Your sofa may become stretched and rippled if the steam temperature is not correct, or if the steamer is too close to the surface or is kept on a single spot for too long.
Thus, it’s best to hire a professional who has the proper knowledge and equipment to do it for you effectively.
Should You Condition Your Leather Sofa?
Leather furniture should be conditioned. Doing so will protect the material from absorbing body oils, hairs, liquids, and grime, which could damage the leather finish.
Occasional conditioning adds protective layers that help to keep the leather moisturized, supple, and soft to the touch, and prevent it from cracking and drying out.
Some specialized products are 2-in-1 that contain a conditioner as well as a cleaner.
You can make your leather couch look brand new and help it last for as long as possible by using the over-the-counter brand-name products or trying out the natural homemade solutions, as we’ve discussed above.
Real leather is a great choice when it comes to a beach house sofa. It looks luxurious, it’s aesthetically pleasing, practical, easy to clean, and available in a wide range of colors.
The material is very durable and can last for many years as long as you care and maintain it the right way.
A leather sofa is best for those who want a comfortable and always in fashion option that complements the décor of their beach house.