How To Clean Leather At Home

Leather is one of the most coveted materials for its elegant finish, durability and its good looks. If looked after properly leather items can last you a lifetime, and if not they can crack, peel or stain. Here, we are talking about real leather and not knockoffs that have a significantly smaller life. No matter what accessory you own, it is imperative you look after it well and give it some good maintenance from time to time to ensure longevity. We are used to thinking of leather as a delicate item that should not be washed or done anything with, but it is indeed very much possible to clean leather product at home with simple materials. If you are wondering how to clean leather shoes, bags, jacket, car seats or couch at home yourself, keep on reading. 

(This article is a part of All You Need to Know About Leather post.)

how to clean leather items

(Read – How To Identify Real Leather)

  1. Do not use harsh cleansers, detergents, bleach or ammonia based products as that can spoil the layer or discolor the leather.
  2. Start with giving the item a thorough rub with a clean soft brush or cloth to clean off the dust and other loose debris. 
  3. Mix a little mild dish soap with warm water and soak a soft cloth in it to wipe the surface. The purpose here is to clean the leather nicely from even within the pores. Wring it fully before doing this so you can wipe the surface without excess water dripping. This is important as sometimes water can stain leather too.
  4. Next wipe the surface with a separate cloth damped with only clean warm water to wipe off the soap. Finally dry by gently rubbing with a towel.
  5. How to clean a leather ink stain? Use a nail paint remover or rubbing alcohol. Take a cotton ball and dip in the solution. Next slowly blot the stain with the bud. Do not rub as that can spread the ink or stain. Once the stain is gone, clean with a damp cloth and towel dry.
  6. How to clean a leather oil stain? Use baking soda powder or cornstarch and sprinkle over the stain. Let it sit for a few hours till the oil gets absorbed and then wipe it off.
  7. After cleaning, you should use a leather conditioner (can use olive oil as a substitute) on the target area. This prevents the leather from drying and cracking and also protects from future stains, at least for some time. Start by applying small quantities of oil and stop when the leather stops absorbing it. Wipe of any excess. Eventually the leather should not be any shinier or stickier.
  8. You can also apply a mixture of vinegar and flaxseed oil (or olive, sunflower, walnut or any other drying oil) as a substitute for 15 mins with a cotton ball to see the leather shining back at you. Avoid using vinegar alone as that can be drying.

To clean leather shoes or bags or to clean leather furniture is pretty much the same thing except for the amount of time involved. To clean leather car seats or sofa, it’s better to start by vacuuming them first. You can also use a commercial leather cleaner solution if you know you’ll be doing this often and do not want to risk using an excess of your homemade solution.

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