Leather goods are remarkably durable and hardwearing, but sometimes leather does need to be taken care of. The subject of cleaning leather can be quite a sensitive subject amongst leather enthusiasts.
Because of the properties of leather, using the same cleaning methods as you would when washing clothes is going to result in damaged leather goods. Basic methods for cleaning leather are generally simple, can be done at home, and can tackle stains, grease, and all the other bad stuff we get on our leather products.
- Always start with a great leather protector
- Know your different types of leather
- Removing grease stains
- Getting rid of denim stains
- Cleaning leather bags or purses
- How to clean leather furniture
- Suede needs special treatment
- Cleaning leather naturally
Always start with a great leather protector
Before you begin to think about cleaning your new leather product, you must first think about how you will protect it. It is imperative to protect your bag before taking it out for the first time.
For smooth leathers, we recommend using an appropriate leather cream. This will create a layer of protection over the leather and will defend it from scratches. Similarly, applying the cream after you have already used the product will minimise any existing marks the item might have picked up already.
Know your different types of leather
Leather products are not all created in the same way. So that also means we have to use different techniques when cleaning different types of leather. Leather, suede and nubuck all require different methods of cleaning.
With this in mind, you should always approach with caution when cleaning leather. We advise testing the product on an inconspicuous area of the item first, making sure to apply with a slight hand – never use unnecessary force. When cleaning grained leather, you can use the same leather cleaner but must apply it differently. This can be done by using a leather-cleaning brush to apply the soap, ensuring the solution finds its way into the grooves of the leather.
Removing grease stains
There are endless amounts of ways we can procure grease stains on our leather products. Hand cream is often one of the main culprits, which is why you so often find fingerprint-like stains on the handles of your leather bag. The problem with grease-based stains is that they absorb so quickly.
If you listened to our first piece of advice and protected your leather, you will have some time to remove the marks before they settle in. Although, if you haven’t followed this first step, the grease will absorb into the leather. Consequently, the stain will darken and leave an oily mark on the leather. If you are at home and can get to some cornstarch fast, then do so, apply it onto the stain to soak up the greasy residue. Talcum powder is also a great tool for soaking up the grease. We advise applying to the affected area and leaving overnight.
Getting rid of denim stains
Denim stains are some of the most common when it comes to leather products. These stains occur when the leather rubs against a pair of jeans (or indeed, a denim jacket). The dye used in denim is similar to hair dye, meaning it will penetrate fast and deep. If the leather is a pale colour, these stains will be painfully visible.
A suitably protected (as mentioned above) piece of leather will repel the indigo dye for a longer duration than something unprotected. If, however, you have no protected that new leather handbag, then the key to cleaning denim stains depends on speed. The cleaner should be applied to the leather the second the dye has marked the leather. The longer the mark is left on the leather, the higher the chance it will be absorbed into the fibres.
Cleaning leather bags and purses
Leather bags and purses are the most susceptible to stains as they are used frequently and often come into contact with drinks, food and the floor. Thankfully, there is a simple method that can be done at home to tackle these challenging stains.
Start with mixing one part mild soap – anything like facial soap or delicate clothes detergent – with eight parts water. We advise using bottled water, if possible, to avoid any harmful particles in tap water. After that, pour the mixture into a spray bottle and spray onto a microfiber cloth. Avoid spraying directly onto the leather as this can cause over-saturation. Next, gently wipe the stain, going with the grain of the leather. Once the stain has faded, leave the bag to dry, keeping it out of sunlight. Finally, once the bag is dry, apply a pea-sized amount of leather moisturiser to protect the material.
How to clean leather furniture
Many people love leather furniture, but few actually know a lot about leather care. This can lead to many sofas and cushions being wrecked by stains that are easy to care for. A common mistake is using heavy-duty household cleaners, which can lead to the leather becoming worn, so make sure to choose a much gentler soap.
Firstly, vacuum the furniture to remove any dust or particles before cleaning. After that, use a cloth to wipe a small amount of mild detergent onto the furniture. With a separate cloth, wipe again with cold, clean water, making sure you don’t over-saturate the fabric. Lastly, leave to dry out of direct sunlight to ensure the colour does not fade. Remember to spot test your chosen cleaning product on a small area before applying to the whole sofa. You don’t want to do any further damage to your leather furniture when trying to clean.
Suede needs special treatment
You should clean suede and nubuck more regularly than conventional leather products. This is because removing stains from these materials can be complicated. These materials need different treatment entirely. They can react very differently depending on finish, colour or stain, so we would generally recommend leaving this cleaning jobs to the professionals.
To start off, find a soft-bristled brush, ideally a suede brush but you can also use a toothbrush if that’s all you have. Use the brush to go over the affected area. Gently brush the stain using short, gentle strokes. Make sure you always go in the same direction to start with as this will help loosen the fibres and dirt. Next, lightly go over the affected area with a clean sponge.
Cleaning leather naturally
If you do not want to use cleaning products on your leather, you can try steam cleaning it. You can do this by hanging your purse or bag in the bathroom just after you take a hot shower. The damp air will loosen the stains. Once that is done, leave the bag to dry before going back over it with a soft-bristled brush.
There are also a variety of household products that can be very beneficial for cleaning leather. Lemon juice mixed with cream of tartar works well for removing spots and stains. Likewise, white vinegar can be used for general cleaning to ensure the material remains healthy.
If you don’t feel comfortable treating your leather products yourself, why not seek professional help? Laundryheap offers a quick and professional service with free next day delivery.