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What is the Easiest to Clean Faux Leather Couch That is not Bonded Leather?

By Jeff Frank


I mistakenly bought a bonded leather set years back. It was a disaster. I want a faux leather that can just be wiped off after spills?

Is there an easy to clean faux leather couch that is not bonded leather?

April 2, 2021


It is not difficult to find an easy to clean faux leather couch.

There are many excellent 100% synthetic faux leathers that are inexpensive, durable & easy to clean. Avoid bonded leathers or any type of faux leather that claims to be “partially real leather.”

Faux leathers, made from polyester, have been around for almost as many years. Until recently, they were far less common. Polyesters were generally cheaper than polyurethanes & vinyls, but couldn’t simulate the look & feel of genuine leather as well.
  • Over the past year, new composite faux leathers that combine polyester and polyurethane have started appearing.
  • These are less expensive than the 100% polyurethanes, but still very good at simulating the look & feel of real leather.
  • Some of the larger retail chains have started using these new composites to replace bonded leather.
I have seen different composite faux leather combinations ranging from 98% polyester/2% polyurethane to 25% polyester/75% polyurethane and many other combinations in between.
  • The composite faux leathers are difficult to distinguish from the bonded leathers by looks or feel.
  • They have not been out long enough to have proven their long term durability, but they will probably hold up very well for many years, based on the reliability of both 100% polyesters and 100% polyurethanes.
  • An easy to clean faux leather couch made from 100% synthetic composite materials, should not be a problem.
Bonded leathers were first introduced in 2010. The entire reason for their existence is based on marketing.
  • At that time there was a huge demand for cheap leather furniture, but consumers had a strong psychological barrier against 100% synthetic faux leathers, even when they looked and felt very close to the real thing.
  • Bonded leather (which uses granulated leather scraps for the backing) could be sold as “partially real leather.” The implication was that this made them better than the 100% synthetics. Consumers fell for this marketing pitch.
Since most furniture purchasers did not do much research or read online reviews 10 years ago, and because it took several years before the number of complaints became impossible to ignore, bonded leather rapidly grew in popularity.
  • Bonded leather was very easy to sell since it looked very much like real leather at far lower prices. It also increased retailers’ profits because it lasted such a short time before needing replacement. Its profitability was so great that retailers were willing to put up with the huge number of complaints.
  • The potential huge costs of repairing or replacing defective bonded leather were minimized by including language in all warranties (including extended warranties) specifically denying coverage of “peeling” leathers or fabric wear of any kind.
Now, complaints about bonded leather have become so numerous they are impossible to ignore.
  • Dozens of articles have been written on the subject.
  • Shoppers are doing more research about furniture before they buy.
The result is that a significant percentage of shoppers are now aware of the problems with bonded leather and actively trying to avoid it. That is not always easy.
  • Retailers attempt to hide bonded leather by calling it PU leather or giving it brand names like Flexsteel’s Nuvo leather or LaZBoy’s Renew leather.
  • The term “PU leather” can be confusing. It is interchangeably used to describe bonded leathers, polyurethane faux leathers and other types of faux leathers.
Consumer awareness of bonded leather problems has created a tremendous shift towards public acceptance of 100% synthetic faux leathers.
  • Most people no longer object to 100% synthetics (as they did 10 years ago) as long as they look and feel good.
This has been aided by advances in fabric technology.
  • 100% synthetic faux leathers look and feel much closer to real leather than they did 10 years ago.
  • Many of the new composites are actually less expensive than the bonded leathers.
My prediction is that bonded leather will completely disappear from residential furniture within 3 years.

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