How to Clean Fine Leather

by Pat Olsen

Leather is an animal byproduct that deserves vigilant care. It often is subject to daily abuse. It will last longer and look better if you know how to clean it, repair scratches and remove food and hair oil stains. These tips will help you preserve your leather jackets, purses, shoes and furniture without much effort.

Items you will need

  • Saddle soap
  • Sponge
  • Dry cloth
  • Leather cleaners and sprays
  • Disposable leather cleaning sheets
  • Shoe polish
  • Disposable foam paintbrush
  • Jergen’s hand lotion
Step 1

Prevention is the best way to keep leather products looking new. Dust your leather at least once a week and check for signs of stains or wear. Avoid eating on a leather couch or laying your head on the arm of the couch. Grease penetrates leather and is difficult to get out.

Step 2

Once you see a stain, try to determine if it is organic, such as a food or an oil stain, or if it is from newspaper ink or even a pen. Work up a thick foam of saddle soap and gently apply it to the leather. Wipe away any moisture immediately. Water should never be allowed to collect on or sink into leather.

Step 3

Several applications of foam may be necessary to get rid of stains like pen or newspaper ink. Allow the leather to dry thoroughly between applications.

Step 4

Use a commercial leather cleaner, but test it on an inconspicuous place. Some cleaners will stain untreated leather. Mild leather cleansing sheets also work well for surface dust, but may not penetrate deep stains.

Step 5

If a stain, such as ballpoint ink, refuses to come out, call a commercial leather cleaner. Avoid the local dry cleaner, who may not know how to clean deep stains.

Step 6

Fill in small surface scratches in leather with shoe polish. Saddle soap will remove the shoe polish. Use a small disposable foam brush to fill in the scratch line and blend it into the surrounding leather.

Tips

  • Rub Jergen’s hand lotion into leather with a soft cloth to keep the surface clean and supple. Buff any haze left after the product has dried.

About the Author

Pat Olsen has over 35 years of experience as a professional journalist in California. She attended San Francisco State and Pacific College. Olsen has several published books, is a staff writer for Mill Creek Living Magazine, and currently writes for Demand Studio. She is a retired educator who still teaches twice a week.