How to clean leather – car seats, sofas, trousers, boots and more

Mrs Hinch cleans her en-suite shower room

Leather is one of the most durable natural materials available which is why it is often chosen for jackets, shoes, furniture and more. Leather products are pleasant to look at and are very durable, but they do require special treatment to keep them clean. Keeping a regular cleaning schedule will ensure your leather looks at its best over time.

How to clean leather

The type of leather you are cleaning will indicate the cleaning method you should use.

You should be sure to check the type of leather as the wrong products can damage leathers if used incorrectly.

If you are unsure of how your chosen cleaning agent will interact with your leather product, you should test the cleaning material in an inconspicuous place.

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Leather sofa

Begin by cleaning off any surface dirt on your leather sofa using the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner to avoid scratching it.

Check the label of your sofa to ensure it does not advise the use or avoidance of any particular cleaning products.

The best way to clean a leather sofa is to use saddle soap or leather dew, which is a combination of soap and oil, once a week with a soft cloth.

Most sofas will be finished leather and it’s fine to use a slightly damp cloth with a small amount of gentle soap to provide it with a quick clean.

Leather handbag

Start by emptying the bag inside and out, creating a foam with the cleaning solution and massaging it into the bag.

Leave the foam solution to dry for a couple of minutes before applying a protection cream, taking extra care with handles and frequently used areas.

You should then leave this protective cream to dry for 10 minutes before buffing off any excess.

If you have a light-coloured bag or if it is a very absorbent leather you may wish to repeat the protection process a couple of times to really look after those easily stained leathers.

For those under time pressure, you should focus on the main areas including the handles, giving these a quick wipe and protect will keep them looking fresh for longer.

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Leather car seats

With leather car seats, you should start by vacuuming the seats of any debris.

Remove the surface dirt by spraying the chairs with a cleaner and wipe over the seats with a microfibre towel.

Then use a soft-bristled brush to deep clean the leather by gently scrubbing it to agitate the dirt and bring it to the surface.

Wipe the seats with a clean and dry microfibre cloth to remove any remaining cleaning agent.

Complete this process three or four times each year, to prevent a build-up of grime.

Leather clothes

Before you begin cleaning any leather clothing, make sure to check the label and avoid washing if it says “not washable”.

For patent leather pieces, you should wipe them down using a glass or mirror cleaner and then wipe it down with a lint-free cleaning cloth.

Leather which does not say it is “not washable” will be free to wash using a gentle cycle with cold water.

You can also use a speciality leather cleaner following the instructions for the cleaner.

Always avoid putting leather clothes in a dryer as it can permanently damage the item.

Cleaning tips when cleaning leather items

  • Ensure your furniture is placed in an area to ensure it protects the leather.
  • Keep pets off leather furniture
  • Moisturise your leather frequently.
  • Always check manufacturer instructions before cleaning
  • Waterproof clothing to protect the leather
  • Seek professional help if the leather gets torn or cut or stained in some way.

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