How to Deep Clean Leather

Updated March 23, 2017

Leather takes quite a bit of maintenance to keep it looking its best. Leather goods are often expensive investments, so it's best to keep them as clean as possible. Usually, a periodic cleaning is all that's needed, as cleaning leather too much can cause the material to break down. However, a deep cleaning may be needed on occasion to get rid of dirt and grime that builds up with regular use. Deep cleaning leather helps to avoid bacteria that breaks down the stitching, permanently damaging the item.

Vacuum leather furniture to remove any dirt or debris. If you're cleaning another type of leather other than furniture, use a dry, soft cloth to wipe it down.

Dampen a soft cloth with warm water and rub a bar of gentle body soap against it to work up a good lather. Dove soap is good, as it doesn't contain ingredients that will irritate the leather.

Use the damp cloth to gently rub the soapy mixture into the leather. Once it's coated in soap lather, use a super fine #0000 steel wool pad to gently scrub the dirt away. Keep the leather wet while using the steel wool to prevent scratches. After approximately 10 seconds of scrubbing, use a clean, damp white cloth to wipe away the soap lather. Check the cloth to make sure that it's only dirt that's coming off. You don't want to remove the dye.

Scrub the leather with the steel wool until all of the dirt and grime has been removed. Clean the dirty, soapy mixture off of the leather by using a wet microfibre towel, then dry the area with a fresh, clean towel.

Apply a coating of conditioner to your newly cleaned leather. Conditioners help to replace the lubricating oils that are lost during cleaning. This will keep your leather looking its best and prevent cracking.


Use a brush to deep clean stitching. Spot test any cleansers or conditioners in an inconspicuous area before using it on the entire surface.


Avoid leather conditioners that contain mineral oils or petroleum, as prolonged use of these products may damage your leather.

Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum
  • 3 soft cloths
  • Gentle body soap
  • #0000 super fine steel wool
  • Micro-fibre towel
  • Leather conditioner
  • Brush
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About the Author

Misty Rodriguez, born and raised in Orlando, Florida, has been a freelance writer since 2005. She has a wide variety of experience and mainly focuses on search engine optimization, mystery shopping narratives and how-to articles. Misty has an Associate of Arts degree in general education from Valencia Community College in Orlando, FL, and is currently working on her Bachelor's degree in nursing.