How to care for synthetic leather

Written by jessica kolifrath
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How to care for synthetic leather
Synthetic leather can look just like the real thing, with less maintenance required. (leather image by Zbigniew Nowak from

Synthetic leather is now used in many shoes, handbags and saddles to replace high-maintenance leather. These synthetic alternatives are more resistant to wear and moisture than traditional leather. They are also a good alternative for vegans or others who disagree with the use of leather. While synthetic leather requires much less work and upkeep than regular leather, it still requires some care. Keep it clean and dry it properly to avoid cracking or flaking.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Soft cloths
  • Leather shampoo
  • Shoe brush
  • Synthetic leather conditioner
  • Waterproofing product

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  1. 1

    Wipe the synthetic leather with a damp, soft cloth. This should clean up most types of synthetic leather, explain the experts at the CowboyWay website.

  2. 2

    Wash dirty synthetic leather products with a gentle leather shampoo. The experts at the Shoe and Foot Care website recommend using a quality shoe brush to lift dirt.

  3. 3

    Let the item air dry, and don't apply any heat. Using heat or sunlight to speed the drying process can warp or ruin the synthetic leather.

  4. 4

    Condition the synthetic leather with a specially designed product. Most leather care manufacturers offer products formulated for synthetic leather that help keep the material flexible.

  5. 5

    Waterproof any items that might come in contact with water or heavy dirt. Products designed for use on fashion or patent leather can be used successfully on synthetic leather, according to Shoe and Foot Care.

Tips and warnings

  • Keeping synthetic leather cleaned and conditioned will prevent it from cracking or becoming stiff.
  • Synthetic leather can stand up to much more use than traditional leather but will still need regular care.
  • Do not soak or completely submerse synthetic leather in water. Depending on its exact composition, this could ruin the material.
  • Do not wash synthetic leather items in a washing machine, and do not dry them in a heat dryer.

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