Natural Leather Cleaning

Updated February 21, 2017

Natural leather furniture, clothing, luggage and other leather goods can be quite expensive. When one of these items becomes stained, it pays to know how to properly clean it. The type of leather and the type of stain will determine the cleaning method. Cleaning leather is risky, because the appearance or colour of the leather may change during the cleaning process. Some natural leather cleaning tips will help you to clean your leather properly.

Water Stain

If the leather item was out in the rain for a long period or has been soaked with water in some other fashion, let it dry in the air slowly and naturally. Keep the leather item away from any heat sources. When it is dry, restore the original softness to the leather with a leather conditioner. If it is a pair of leather shoes that have become drenched, insert shoe trees into the shoes to restore the softness to the leather and to restore their shape. Let them air dry.

Ink Stain

If the leather item has an ink stain on it, spray the stain with hairspray. Then, wipe off the leather with a clean, dry cloth. Ink is a very difficult stain to remove from leather. If it does not come out with the hairspray, you may need to take it to a professional leather cleaner.

Mildew Stain

If the leather item has a mildew stain, mix 1 cup of water with 1 cup of rubbing alcohol. Dampen a cloth in the mixture, wring it out and wipe down the affected area of the leather. Allow it to air dry.

Blood or Urine Stain

If your leather item has a blood or urine stain, blot the moisture from the leather garment with a clean and slightly damp cloth. Air dry the item away from any heat sources.

Grease Stain

If your leather item has a grease stain, blot the grease on the item with a clean cloth. Then, sprinkle cornstarch or talcum powder on the stain. Let the leather item sit for about four hours before you wipe the powder off.

Gum Stain

If you have a gum stain on your leather item, remove the excess gum by rubbing a bag of ice cubes over the gum to harden it. You should then be able to pull the gum off. If there is still a little gum left, heat it with a hair dryer and wipe it off with a clean cloth.

Dirty Leather

If a finished natural leather is not stained but simply dirty, wipe it off with a clean damp cloth. Do not rinse the leather item with water. Instead, polish it with a dry towel. When the leather is completely dry, treat it with a leather conditioner. If an unfinished natural leather is dirty, rub saddle soap onto the item with a damp sponge. Work the saddle soap into a lather. Wipe the lather off, and let the item air dry. When it is completely dry, oil it with mink oil or another leather preservative.

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