The best ways to clean white leather

Updated April 17, 2017

White leather is used for many items, including handbags, purses, luggage, sofas, shoes and gloves. Shoes and bags often get scuff marks, and leather furniture can absorb body oils, causing yellow or grey patches. The leather can be cleaned using one of several methods to bring it back to original condition. Some products advertised for white leather are actually colourants to cover over a mark or stain rather than to clean it off.

Dish-washing Liquid and Water

Leather is made of hide or skin, so most methods used to clean skin can also be used to clean leather. The easiest and least expensive way to remove stains from white leather is to use dish-washing liquid or simple household soap. Mix it with warm water and apply using a clean cloth or small soft bristle brush. Use circular movements across the dirty areas and don't rub too hard. Rinse with clean warm water.

Saddle Soap

Saddle soap has been used to clean leather for hundreds of years. It is available at horse and rural supply stores, or online. It is suitable for use on small leather items like belts or large items like sofas. Follow the directions on the tin. Clean the whole item but pay particular attention to stained areas. After allowing it to dry, you can protect the clean leather with a leather protectant.

Leather Wash

There is a range of branded products sold as leather washes for leather furniture and car seats. Only buy those that contain natural products and avoid those containing silicone or wax, as they will actually damage the white leather with repeated use. They can deep clean leather and can be wiped off without any rinsing. These products will not harm the leather, and leave no residue behind.

Vinegar and Neat's-foot Oil

If there is an obvious stain rather than general dirt on white leather, clean with a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and neat's-foot oil. Rub the mixture into the stain using a clean lint-free cloth in a gentle circular motion. Work across the stain until it disappears. Rinse with warm water and allow to dry overnight, then buff with a soft cloth to restore shine.

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