Leather items are very popular due to their aesthetic look and durability. If maintained properly, they are extremely durable and long-lasting. Usually, hides of cattle, buffalo, alligators, ostriches, and snakes are used for manufacturing leather products like shoes, clothing and accessories, wallets, belts, purses, and jackets.
Leather products can be classified into two types - finished leather and unfinished leather. So, before applying any cleaning product, it is important to know which product can be used on a particular type of leather. The use of an unsuitable product can ruin the finish of the leather item, and reduce its lifespan.
How to Clean Leather Products
This is not an easy task. You have to make sure that you do not spoil the leather item by the inappropriate and injudicious use of harsh chemicals. So, before using any commercial product, check the label to make sure that it does not contain any strong chemical. To keep your leather item clean, try to prevent the accumulation of dirt and dust on it. It is essential to keep the leather item conditioned; otherwise it can become dry and stiff.
How to Clean Finished Leather
Only the products recommended by the manufacturer should be used for cleaning leather items. A mild moisturizing soap can be used for removing stains from finished leather. First, make a light lather with a soft, damp cloth or sponge. Then use the sponge or cloth to rub the stained area gently. Use another damp cloth for wiping, but make sure that you do not rinse the leather item. Use a dry soft cloth or towel to wipe the product, and allow it to dry completely. Now, you can use a good leather conditioner to restore the normal level of moisture.
Cleaning Unfinished Leather
A saddle soap can also be used for cleaning leather, as it is specifically made for this purpose. While using saddle soap, first make a light foam with a soft damp cloth or sponge, and then proceed the same way as mentioned above. Now, allow the product to dry, and then apply a leather preservative on it.
How to Clean Leather Furniture
Leather furniture is cherished for its classic look and durability. You can use water-based foam leather cleaners for cleaning leather furniture, but be sure to avoid the conditioners that contain waxes and silicone. Do not use solvents or abrasive cleaners on leather furniture. Soak up any kind of spills immediately to avoid the appearance of hard stains. Regular dusting with a cotton cloth or vacuum cleaner is sufficient to remove dirt, and prevent stains.
Cleaning Leather Shoes and Clothing
Leather shoes are more likely to sustain tough stains. You can use white vinegar to clean them, but cleaning should be followed by the application of cold-pressed nut oil and olive oil. Leave the oils on the shoes for a while, and then buff them with the help of a lint-free cloth.
For cleaning leather clothing, you can try a mixture of castile soap, olive oil, and a few drops of grapefruit seed extract. Essential oils can be added to this mixture to freshen the cloths, and remove odor. Mix about ½ gallon water to this mixture before applying it on the garment. Do not apply the mixture directly on leather. Instead, use a soft cloth for this purpose.
How to Make Leather Cleaners at Home
An effective homemade leather cleaner and conditioner can be made by combining vinegar and Neat's-foot oil or linseed oil. The amount of Neat's-foot oil or linseed oil should be double than that of vinegar. Use a soft cloth to buff the leather item with this mixture.
For removing stains, a small amount of toothpaste can be applied on the leather item. Gently scrub the stained area with a small amount of toothpaste, and then wipe it off with a damp cloth. Nail polish removers (the non-acetone based removers) can be used for removing ink stains from leather. Another important homemade leather cleaner can be prepared by mixing lemon juice and cream of tartar. Mix equal parts of lemon juice and cream of tartar to make a fine paste. Apply this on the stain, and then wipe it off with a clean, damp cloth.
Leather items easily fade in sunlight. So, keep them away from direct sunlight. Do not store them in damp places as well, as this will promote the growth of mold and mildews. Before using any cleaning product, it is advisable to try it on a small inconspicuous area. It is also recommended to consult a professional to know more about the types of products that can be used safely for cleaning leather items.