What Is Aniline Leather?

While browsing leather goods catalogs, you might come across terms like aniline and semi-aniline dyed leather. We’ll give you a quick primer on what these terms mean and how this kind of leather is different from others, as well as its pros and cons. If you’re looking for an all purpose leather cleaner and conditioner, we recommend Chamberlain’s Leather Milk

What Is Aniline Leather

Aniline leather is a high/quality product. Aniline actually refers to the dyes that are used in making the final product, once the hide is tanned. It is a special treatment process used on the fine Napa hides. This process makes it stand out among the many kinds of leather.

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How Aniline Leather is Made

Aniline leather is a natural Napa leather. Napa refers to particularly soft, tanned hides from any animal.  During the manufacturing process for aniline leather, the tanned animal hide is dyed in a drum with aniline dyes. Aniline dye is a translucent, water-soluble synthetic dye without any insoluble pigments. During the dyeing process, the natural grain including all the markings, scars and wrinkles are brought out in each hide.

In contrast, semi-aniline dye contains a small amount of pigment, which allows the leather to still display its natural characteristics while bringing more color consistency.

Another variant, pull-up aniline leather, has a coating of oil or wax to give it a distressed look.


During the aniline dyeing process, the leather is not uniform in color throughout due to the different rates of absorption from area to area. This is a testament to the genuineness of the leather finish and adds to the beauty of the finish. Because aniline dyeing is only suited for the highest-quality hides, aniline leather is highly sought-after. The aniline dye, mixed with oils, soaks into the leather, giving it added softness and a rich look.

The semi-aniline process adds a thin protective coat to the leather which protects it from wear and stains. This kind of leather is also easier to clean.

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Aniline leather shows all the natural markings of the animal’s growth, as well as scars, wrinkles and other blemishes. Semi-aniline leather does not show the natural markings as clearly, and the leather is slightly stiffer and cooler to the touch. Aniline leather will have more natural colors, derived from the coloration of the animal’s skin.

Semi-aniline leather won’t show a mark if you scratch it lightly with a fingernail, but aniline leather will.

Products Aniline Leather Is Commonly Used For

Due to its beautiful finish which highlights the natural features of the animal hide, aniline leather is suited for luxury accessories. Since it is generally produced from full-grain leather, it is of the best quality is the most natural looking of all the leathers. It is used for furniture, wallets, bags, jackets and other luxury goods. It can also be used for car seats, bicycle saddles and suitcases. If you’re looking for an all purpose leather cleaner and conditioner, we recommend Chamberlain’s Leather Milk

Advantages of Aniline Leather

Aniline leather has the distinction of being one of the most sought-after leathers due to its high quality and appearance. It develops a patina over time by absorbing body oils and contact with the skin. It is both soft and supple due to the lack of extra processing and coatings.

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Disadvantages of Aniline Leather

Apart from the high price tag, aniline leather does have some disadvantages. Because it stains and marks very easily, some simple care is needed on a regular basis. It fades in direct sunlight, and needs to be conditioned to prevent drying out. Furniture made with aniline leather might not be suitable for homes with young children and pets.

How to Care for Aniline Leather

Caring for aniline leather requires more effort than other types of leather. To prevent staining and slow down fading, apply a protective leather product. Clean the leather with an aniline cleaning product regularly to remove body oils and dirt from the surface.

Keeping the leather moisturized prevents drying out and cracking. A good leather restorer will rehydrate dried-out leather and restore it to its soft and natural feel. On the other hand, maintaining semi-aniline leather is much easier. You can use water-based semi-aniline cleaners, occasional dusting and gentle soap and water to clean it. If you’re looking for an all purpose leather cleaner and conditioner, we recommend Chamberlain’s Leather Milk

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Similar to aniline leather is corrected leather, in which a topcoat of pigment is sprayed on the tanned hide, sometimes with additional coatings for protection or effect. The surface can be embossed with a grain or pattern. Corrected leather is durable and consistent looking, and can be supple. However it neither has the natural beauty of aniline leather, nor can it develop a patina over time. It is less costly, since it does not require such high-quality hides. It is also lower maintenance than aniline leather.


Aniline leather is among the top leather types available. It is expensive and requires greater care and maintenance, however, its beauty will grow with time and achieve a classic leather look with age. If you’re looking for an all purpose leather cleaner and conditioner, we recommend Chamberlain’s Leather Milk

Other Similar Leathers

Other leather you may be interested in include: