How to Clean Leather

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Leather products tend to be more expensive than other products. Because of this, you want to make sure you take good care of your leather products.  When a leather product gets a stain you need to know how to clean it properly.

The proper way to clean leather depends on the particular type of leather as well as the particular type of stain. To be certain, that’s really what cleaning leather is about, in many ways. It’s about matching the right type of cleaner to the right type of leather. If you use a cleaner that’s meant for unfinished leather on a piece of leather that’s finished, you run the risk of a couple of problems. First, you run the risk of damaging the leather. Second, you run the risk that the leather won’t get as clean as it possibly can.

Here are the specific steps involved in cleaning leather:

  1. Figure out whether the leather has been finished or whether it is unfinished.  Luggage, garments and furniture tend to use finished leather and items like work boots, saddles and baseball gloves tend to use unfinished leather.
  1. To clean finished leather, put a small amount of a moisturizing and gentle bath soap onto a wet cloth.  Work the cloth into a light lather.  Then, rub the damp cloth onto the leather, being careful not to get the leather too wet.
  1. Get a fresh damp cloth and use it to wipe off the lather.  Don’t rinse the leather off. Instead, rely on the cloth to brush away the lather. Take care not to grind the lather into the leather as you clean it.
  1. Next, polish the leather item with a towel.  This step is especially important, as it will help the leather’s look to settle back to where it should be. Don’t skip the polishing step; it’s as important as the cleaning itself.
  1. Once the item has dried, use a leather conditioner to treat it.  If you have unfinished leather you’ll want to use saddle soap instead of a leather conditioner.
  1. If your leather is mildewed use a cup of rubbing alcohol mixed with a cup of water.  Wipe the mildewed area down and let it air dry. Then, start over at the beginning and clean the leather properly again.
  1. If you have ink on your leather, spray the area with hairspray and wipe it off with a clean cloth. This may lift the ink stain out of the leather.
  1. Finally, If you have a grease stain on your leather blot out the extra grease with a clean cloth.  After that, use either cornstarch or talcum powder on the area and allow the item to sit for four hours.
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