How to Clean and Maintain Genuine Leather

Leather is a great material that’s incredibly durable and aesthetic, making it perfect for clothes, furniture, car interiors, and accessories. However, it’s not for lazy people. Owning anything made of leather requires some cleaning and maintenance to keep it in top condition. 

Whenever you buy anything made of leather, it’s an exciting time as you’ve invested in something that can potentially last for a lifetime, but only if you can take good care of it. If you take care of it long enough, you may even hand it down to future generations someday.

It’s one of those materials that let you do that since leather never goes out of style. You can look forward to your leather jacket or sofa to gain more character as time passes, so you have to make sure it doesn’t get stained or cracked.

Even something as simple as a leather wallet can be made to last a lifetime if cleaned and maintained properly. Here’s how to clean and maintain leather properly.

How to Clean Leather

Leather can be cleaned with simple household products, so you won’t have to buy any special products for cleaning it up. Remove most of the dust with a soft, dry cloth.

You can then mix a 50/50 solution of water and vinegar in a bowl, then use a microfiber cloth to gently apply it to the leather in a circular motion to remove dirt and fresh stains.

Dip the cloth back into the solution, wring it out, and gently wipe the leather again to further clean it. If the cleaning solution becomes too dirty, you should replace it with a new mix. Make sure to not get the leather too wet since excess moisture can damage the leather.

Before you clean the whole leather item, test your cleaning solution first on an inconspicuous area to make sure it won’t damage or discolor the leather. Once you’re sure it’s fine, you may then clean as needed, but be sure to not overdo it.

How to Remove Dark Stains From Leather

You can remove dark stains from light-colored leather with a mixture of one part lemon juice with one part cream of tartar. Rub that paste onto the stain and leave it for around 10 minutes, then apply another layer of paste and work it in before removing with a damp cloth or sponge that’s topped off with moisturizing soap.

How to Remove Water Stains From Leather

You can remove water spots from leather by simply moistening the area again with a little water, then letting that spot dry or gently blowing it dry.  By doing this, you remoisturize the area and hopefully even out the color there. Just make sure to not place the leather under the sun to dry because that will destroy it.

How to Remove Ink Stains From Leather

Don’t panic if your leather gets flicked by a pen or has ink spilled on it. If it’s still fresh, it should be easy enough to remove the ink with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. Make sure to gently blot it instead of vigorously rubbing it as doing the latter may discolor the leather. You should then gently dry the area with a blow dryer.

If the ink stain is still there, even after a number of passes with the solution, apply a thick coating of non-gel non-oily cuticle remover and leave it on overnight. You then wipe it off with a damp cloth the next day and 

Remove ink spots from leather by dipping a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and gently blotting the stain. Dry the area with a blow dryer. If the stain remains after drying, apply a thick coat of non-gel, non-oily cuticle remover. Leave on overnight, then wipe off with a damp cloth.

How to Remove Road Salt From Leather

If you like to wear your leather jacket while riding your bike, this may be a common problem for you. You can mix the one part water and one part white vinegar solution, as mentioned for the regular cleaning of leather.

Take a cloth, wet it with the solution, and gently apply it on the affected areas in a circular motion. You should then wipe off the moisture, then repeat the process as much as necessary. You should then wipe it all off, then polish the leather if applicable.

How to Remove Grease or Oil From Leather

You can sprinkle baking soda or cornstarch on the affected area and rub it in gently with a damp cloth to absorb the grease. You can then leave it on the leather for a few hours or overnight to suck as much of it up. You can then wipe off the powder with a soft cloth and the unsightly blotch should be gone by then.

How to Remove Scuffs From Leather

Taking off scuffs and minor scratches off leather is easy. Just use a dab of non-gel toothpaste on the scuffed area and rub with a soft cloth. The slightly abrasiveness of the toothpaste will hopefully help even it out.

How to Remove Other Kinds of Stains From Leather

You can also use lemon juice and cream of tartar together to clean off stains. Mix equal parts of lemon juice and cream of tartar to create a cleaning paste that you can then apply to the stained area. Let it sit for half an hour, then use a damp cloth to wipe the paste off.

Both lemon juice and cream of tartar are acidic enough to be used as cleaning agents, with the cream of tartar making it less runny and letting it sit on 

Mix equal parts of lemon juice and cream of tartar into a paste. Apply to stained area and let sit for 30 minutes. Use a damp cloth to remove the paste. Lemon juice and cream of tartar have a mild bleaching effect, so only use this on light-colored leather.

How to Condition Leather

Conditioning the leather is important as doing so on a regular basis keeps the leather supple and soft as it was on the first day. However, you don’t just put on the conditioner on the leather without cleaning it as that will only make things worse.

What happens over time when you just habitually condition the leather without cleaning it is that the dirt and grime on the leather builds up over time, creating layers of crud that gets kept there by the conditioner. That will only ruin the leather over time.

First, remove straps or accessories if there are any and clean the leather as described above. Allow the leather to dry thoroughly, preferably overnight. Wipe away any cleaning residue to prepare the leather for conditioning.

Before conditioning the leather, test a small spot with the conditioner to make sure it won’t actually be ruined. Once you’re absolutely sure it’s fine, you can finally apply the conditioner onto the leather.

You then allow the leather to rest, letting the conditioner seep through the leather. Once it has been rested, wipe away any conditioning residue, and you’re done.

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