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How to Care for Napa Leather

by Jaimie Zinski

Otherwise known as aniline leather, napa leather is created from the outside, or hair side, of a pig, lamb or sheep skin, while suede is created from the underside of the hide. After the hide is stripped with tanning salts, the porous material is usually dyed and used to create a variety of high-end products, including vehicle seats, handbags and shoes. Napa leather is soft and porous. Permanent stains, discolorations and other damage may develop if you don't clean and store it properly.

Remove dirt, dust and debris from your napa leather piece by wiping it gently with a dry, lint-free cloth. If there are stains, first try removing them with a cotton washcloth dampened in plain water. Dab at the stain with the water and allow the napa piece to air dry. If the stain persists, move to the next step.

Combine 4 cups lukewarm water and 1/2 teaspoon mild dish soap. Stir the water and dampen the corner of a cotton washcloth with the soapy solution. Dab at the stain -- don't rub -- until it's eliminated. Dampen a separate cotton washcloth with plain water and dab at the napa leather to rinse out the soapy water. Hang the napa piece from a sturdy hanger to dry, if possible.

Restore the napa leather's nap by gently rubbing it, using back-and-forth motions with a dry cotton washcloth. Protect the piece by applying a cream or spray leather protectant formulated for use on napa leather. If you use a cream, dampen the corner of a washcloth and apply a thin layer of the product to the item. If you use a spray, apply it evenly over the entire piece. Either way, follow the manufacturer's directions and allow the napa leather to dry completely before storing.

Store the napa leather piece in a cool, dry place. Store napa leather shoes in their original box on a shelf to avoid exposing them to moisture or sunlight. Hang a napa leather coat from a sturdy wooden hanger for storage. If you must store it for an extended period of time, slip a napa leather coat or handbag into a cotton garment bag.

Items you will need
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Cotton washcloth
  • 4 cups lukewarm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon mild dish soap
  • Wooden hanger
  • Cream or spray leather protectant
  • Cotton garment bag

Tips

  • If the napa leather piece is labeled “dry clean only,” don't attempt to launder or even spot-clean it yourself; instead, take the item to a professional.
  • Never store the napa leather in a plastic bag. Plastic will stop the air circulation around the piece that helps prevent mold and mildew.