Friday, June 5, 2009

Body Oil in Leather Furniture

As leather furniture restoration specialists we commonly find body oil accumulation in leather. We find it in the head rest and arm rest, or where skin is in contact with leather. Leather is absorbent. Whether it's a comfy leather recliner, or favorite seat on a sofa, the output of a skin pores gradually penetrates into the leather fibers. We'll also find it in the leather of a seat cushion if it's the favorite place for a dog to lay or the cushion's leading (front) edge in a home where people commonly wear shorts exposing the back of their legs to leather.

Body oil may show itself in a few months or in many years. It's a function of several variables --- length of time exposed to skin, chemical nature of the person's pore output, chemical resistance of the leather as examples. We have also discovered that people who are on certain medications will have their body chemistry altered by these meds, making their body oil more caustic.

Mistakenly, people interpret body oil accumulation in leather as soiling or dirt and attempt to clean it away. It's not a cleaning issue as the oils are in the leather not on the leather. It's like trying to clean a tattoo in skin. A cleaner will remove whatever dirt particles are sitting on the leather, but won't touch whatever is deeply embedded in the leather.

For the do-it-yourself (DIY) leather restoration folks, or for professional leather technicians, body oils present a problem on three levels.

1. They are visually offensive (big nasty looking dark or soiled spot in the leather).
2. The oils penetrate through the colored coating on the leather, eroding adhesion of that color coating.
3. The chemical output from a person skin is caustic to leather as there is a pH differential between leather and human. This differential creates a chemical reaction in the leather that breaks down (rots) the leather's fiber structure. If the problem is not address soon enough, the offended leather panel cannot be saved.

The staining can be resolved by the application of color over the offended leather area. However, before re-coloring the leather, these body oils have to be removed. If you simply color over the body oil, the new color won't adhere properly and will peel up.

The leather restoration pros at Advanced Leather Solutions have developed a specific procedure to draw these offending body oils out of leather. It involves an oil extraction chemistry applied to the leather that passively removes the offending oils. It often required multiple applications of oil extractor to ensure all the oils are removed.

The following video sequence found on Piscasa demonstrates the oil extraction procedure from leather. CLick on the picture to see the video sequence. And, to learn more, visit

Body Oil Extraction, Leather Furniture

copyright 2009, Kevin Gillan

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