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What is PU Leather, and Is It Comparable to Real Leather?

PU leather, or polyurethane leather, gained popularity during the 1960s due to its synthetic composition, which allowed for enhanced durability and cost-effectiveness. 

What Is PU Leather

Additionally, as industries sought more sustainable and affordable alternatives to genuine leather, PU leather emerged as a top choice due to its lower production costs and ability to mimic the aesthetics of real leather minus the ethical implications.

What is PU Leather?

Although PU leather seems largely similar to real leather, it’s actually created from a completely different set of materials. It’s considered a great alternative to genuine leather as it is made entirely from synthetic materials. This synthetic material is crafted from a combination of fabric substrates and polyurethane, a method that allows for more consistent quality and a broader range of finishes, contrasting with the natural variations found in real leather.

Combination Of Fabric

You can find several kinds of PU leather on the market, including bi-cast leather that layers polyurethane over real leather. This material is frequently used in products like handbags, shoes, furniture, and office chairs.

What is the Difference Between PU Leather and Genuine Leather?

Although PU leather is currently a popular alternative to genuine leather, there are still significant differences between the two materials in terms of texture, longevity, and overall quality. 

Difference Between PU Leather And Genuine Leather

Genuine leather tends to develop a unique patina and lasts much longer than PU leather, which can wear down more quickly and does not improve with age. 
Genuine leather is still definitely a better choice over PU leather if you prefer the traditional quality and feel of authentic leather. However, PU leather can still make a great alternative if you’re looking for something lighter, cost-effective, and less prone to moisture damage.

Pros and Cons of PU Leather

There are multiple factors to consider when purchasing a leather product, starting with the type of leather you prefer. As a consumer, it’s important to evaluate what matters most to you, such as ethical sourcing, ease of maintenance, or longevity, to make an informed decision. 

Pros And Cons Of PU Leather

Here’s a helpful breakdown of the pros and cons of PU leather. 

Pros 

  • PU leather is generally less expensive than genuine leather, making it a cost-effective alternative for consumers on a budget.
  • Since it is a synthetic material, PU leather does not involve the use of animal products, making it a popular choice among vegans and those concerned about animal welfare.
  • PU leather is relatively easy to care for; it resists stains and water and is not prone to crack or fade quickly. It can be cleaned with a damp cloth and does not require the regular conditioning that genuine leather does.
  • It comes in a wide range of colours and textures, which allows for versatility in design. Manufacturers can easily adjust their properties to suit different applications, from fashion to furniture.
  • Unlike genuine leather, which can vary in texture and pattern, PU leather has a uniform appearance, which can be advantageous for certain manufacturing purposes where consistency is key.

Cons 

  • While PU leather is suitable for a variety of uses, it does not typically last as long as genuine leather. It can peel or crack over time, especially when subjected to rigorous use.
  • PU leather lacks the natural breathability of genuine leather, which can make it less comfortable for clothing or upholstery that is in direct contact with skin.
  • Although it is a vegan product, the production of PU leather involves petroleum-based polymers, which can have a negative environmental impact. The production process also involves chemicals that can release harmful toxins.
  • For those who appreciate the natural qualities of genuine leather, PU leather may not provide the same feel or aesthetic appeal. It can sometimes look and feel artificial.
  • PU leather does not provide the same level of warmth as genuine leather, making it less suitable for certain applications like premium outerwear.

How to Maintain Your PU Leather Items 

Although PU leather is significantly more affordable compared to genuine leather, it’s still important to know how to maintain your PU leather items to ensure you get the most out of your investment. 

How To Maintain Your PU Leather Items

Proper care can prevent cracking, peeling, and other common issues associated with synthetic materials, as they don’t have the same durable characteristics as genuine leather items.

Here’s how you can maintain your PU leather items: 

  • Regular Conditioning: Similar to genuine leather, PU leather also needs regular conditioning. However, it’s important to use a conditioner specifically for synthetic leather, as products designed for genuine leather may contain ingredients that can harm PU leather by breaking down its synthetic fibres.
  • Avoid Exposure to Excessive Heat and Sunlight: PU leather can crack and fade when exposed to direct sunlight or high temperatures for prolonged periods. Try to keep your PU leather items away from direct heat sources and out of the sun when not in use.
  • Regular Cleaning: PU leather items also need regular cleaning. Simply wipe a cloth dampened with warm water and mild detergent and gently rub the surface to remove dirt and stains, ensuring your PU leather stays looking fresh and new.
  • Stain Removal: If your PU leather gets stained, act quickly to dab the stain with a cloth soaked in mild soapy water. For tougher stains, a solution of vinegar and water can be used. Always test any cleaner on a small, inconspicuous area first.
  • Proper Storage: Similar to genuine leather items, PU leather items also need to be stored in a cool, dry place. If you are planning on storing them for a long amount of time, make sure they are clean and dry. Use breathable covers such as cloth bags instead of plastic which can cause moisture buildup.

In addition to regular cleaning, it’s also important to have your PU leather items professionally cleaned every six months to remove any built-up grime or oils that regular home cleaning might miss, keeping them in optimal condition.Love Your Leather provides professional leather cleaning and leather repair services at affordable prices.

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