How to Clean Leather in 4 Simple Steps

How to Clean Leather

Photo:

Szymon Brzoska/The Style Stalker

There are certain closet staples that will never go out of style, like knee-high boots, crossbody satchels, and luxe leather belts—which means it’s also useful to learn how to clean leather. Like many of fashion’s most beloved materials, leather has an unfortunate habit of picking up dirt and showing wear.

Similar to the items themselves, outsourcing your leather cleaning can be expensive. Luckily, cleaning leather on your own might be easier than you think and can be achieved using natural, nontoxic ingredients. Whether you’re planning a major cleaning session with your latest vintage find or hoping to salvage that favorite pair of leather flats, there’s never been a better time to learn how to clean leather.

Read on to learn how to clean leather in just four simple steps, without any harsh chemicals.

1. Gather Your Supplies

Here’s what you’ll need: three clean cloths; two bowls of clean, warm water; and dish soap.

As a note, if you’re looking for a specialized substitute for dish soap, there are also a handful of nontoxic leather cleaners on the market. These can also be used to clean leather effectively and tend to be applied in the exact same way.

2. Get to Work

Mix a very small amount of dish soap (one-eighth of a cup should be sufficient) into one of the bowls of warm water. By opting for nontoxic soap, you’ll avoid chemicals found in harsher detergents that can damage the quality and color of the leather.

Next, dip one of the cloths into the soapy water and gently wipe down the leather in the direction of the grain. If you can’t visually determine the direction of the grain, don’t worry: Simply keep your motions gentle and consistent.

Finally, dip a second cloth into the clean water and carefully wipe down the leather, following the same direction and pattern. Make sure your cloth is only damp, not soaking wet, as too much moisture can create further damage.

3. Allow the Leather to Dry Naturally

Once the cleaning solution has been applied and removed, use your dry cloth to wipe down the leather, again in the direction of the grain.

While it might go without saying, avoid using rough or textured cloths, and instead opt for soft, smooth variations like microfiber.

Allow the leather to fully air-dry away from heat or direct sunlight. Never ever use a blow-dryer to expedite the process, and always ensure that the leather is 100% dry before you wear it again.

How to Wash Leather

Photo:

Szymon Brzoska/The Style Stalker

4. Protect Against Damage

One of the best things you can do to protect your leather against future wear is using a high-quality leather conditioner. Be sure to look for something water-resistant, and avoid harsh chemicals like heavy-duty saddle leather.

Now, shop our favorite leather pieces:

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