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Is Leather Upholstery Waterproof?

The first thing that it’s important to establish is the difference between waterproof and water resistant.

As a natural and permeable material, leather can never actually be made 100% waterproof but most upholstery leather will be finished in a way that makes its surface water resistant.

When an item is labelled as water resistant its surface will be able to repel liquid such as light spills and if dried quickly
enough will have no detrimental effect to the product or surface.

The degree at which upholstered leather is water resistant depends on how the leather is finished after the tanning
(colouring) process has taken place.

This can often result in a trade-off between a leather product that has been through fewer processes and therefore retains a more natural look and feel but is less water resistant, versus one which has been through multiple processes and is more water resistant but has lost some of its natural sensorial qualities.

Residential upholstery leather is often finished with a coating. As part of this finishing process
the leather receives a protective, water-resistant finish providing a barrier against liquid absorption and extra protection against spills. Read our blog here on the different types of leather finish available.

So assuming your leather upholstery is finished in a way that provides some level of water resistance if it does get wet, don’t panic. Here’s our short guide to protecting your leather goods from water damage:

1. Remove moisture.
With a soft, dry cloth, wipe it down thoroughly and remove as much liquid from the surface as you possibly can. Do not use a hairdryer or anything that generates heat, as this could do lasting damage.

2. Let air-dry.
Simply leave your goods untouched until no moisture remains. Leather is porous, which allows moisture to enter, but is also breathable as a result, and will allow that moisture to escape easily.

3. Conditioning
Like all real leather, a semi aniline sofa will need to be conditioned at least twice a year to make sure no cracking or drying out takes place. Regular liquid spills actually speed up the rate at which the leather loses its natural moisture so if a spill does take place, once the leather has fully dried out again, that’s a perfect time to condition.

If you follow these steps, you should find your leather can stand up to the occasional soaking and if you proactively take care of your leather you can help make sure it continues to look its best for years to come.