Leather is considered to be one of those luxury goods that need to be cleaned with utmost care because of its sensitivity.
Leather can crack or wear out if the wrong type of cleaning agent is used on it.
Fortunately, there are leather cleaning products as well as leather cleaning methods which can be used separately or combined to ensure that the leather reverts to good condition and retains its classic look.
The ideal cleaning agent for leather has been sought after for centuries.
Pumice, gasoline, turpentine, soaps, and even skimmed milk have been, at one point or another, used as leather cleaners.
Here are some of the commonly-known leather cleaners including soaps and so-called new fangled liquid detergents that have been used by some but avoided by others.
Introduced in the early 19th century as both a cleaner and a dressing for leather, saddle soap is made of water, lye, and fat, albeit turpentine and beeswax were known to be additional ingredients.
Saddle soap might have tradition on its side but using it has been proven to have several serious disadvantages:
Because saddle soap is typically made with an excessive amount of fat it can act as both cleaner and conditioner.
Unfortunately, this same fat interferes significantly with the saddle soap’s ability to loosen grease, dirt, and oil and remove them completely.
Saddle soap is strongly alkaline with a 10 pH rating or higher.
Leather is naturally acidic and regularly treating it with saddle soap will change its acidic state to an alkaline one.
This change in pH status will cause it to darken and become brittle.
Saddle soap’s thick lather cannot be rinsed completely from folds and crevices and accumulate in them.
Dried saddle soap causes faster deterioration of leather from mold growth.
Commercial leather cleaning products are used when these are applied in full strength on a damp cloth or sponge and rubbing this over leather.
This action lifts and loosens the grime and dirt.
Rinse the cloth or sponge frequently to remove the dirt and grime from leather completely.
When dry, rinse leather with a clean sponge or cloth slightly dampened with water.
How To Choose Cleaners
Read the label.
Good cleaning products have neutral pH levels that won’t change the leather’s natural acidity.
The product should not result in a heavy lather when used so it could be rinsed off easily.
This means there will be no build up of dried lather in crevices and folds.
Cleaners with labels that read “clean and condition” will likely clean leather less effectively than products which are specifically formulated to clean exclusively.
The less expensive alternatives to costly commercial cleaners are hand dishwashing liquid or detergent.
Mix a substantial amount of this liquid or detergent with a pail of lukewarm water and apply to the leather with a sponge.
The pH levels of hand dishwashing liquid or detergent range from slightly acidic to moderately alkaline.
The ideal pH level is somewhere between neutral and slightly acidic products.
Unlike commercial cleaners or saddle soap, hand dishwashing liquid or detergent are not in full strength doses when applied to leather so it’s unlikely that this kind of leather cleaning products can cause damage to the leather.
Chemical Guys “Sprayable Leather Conditioner and Cleaner” restores, protects, prolongs and enhances leather, imitation leather and even vinyl.
This pH balanced leather treatment breathes new life into leather while helping to restore and protect neglected leather.
Restores and maintains a true natural leather scent.
Sprayable Leather Conditioner and Cleaner is enriched with vitamin E and aloe which helps keep leather soft, supple and protected.
A difference you can see is a protective coat that lasts. Chemical Guys “Sprayable Leather Conditioner and Cleaner” is a rich, lanolin-based cream and a naturally derived propolis with remarkable “suspension release” qualities.
Propolis also provides a durable barrier against chemicals and resists bacteria, mold, and mildew.
Propolis is an anti-bacterial resin collected by honeybees to waterproof and disinfect their hives.
This natural substance repels water better and longer than regular water repellants.
It even reinforces the surface of your leather against scuffing, while still allowing the leather to breathe.
The preservatives and oils used during the tanning process gradually diminish over time.
- Enriched with vitamin E and aloe which helps keep leather soft, supple and protected
- Formulated from a lanolin-based cream and a naturally derived propolis with remarkable “suspension release” qualities
- Repels water better and longer than regular water repellants, and even reinforces the surface of your leather against scuffing
Leather Master products range includes special kits and products for the cleaning, maintenance and protecting of all nubuck and suede leathers.
With these products, you can remove soil, water-based stains and oil-based stains from your nubuck leather garment, shoes and upholstery.
- Includes Nubuck Cleaner (140ml) , Nubuck Cleaning Cloths (2), and Sponges (2)
- Water based product that cleans most stains and soiling from Nubuck leather
- Environmentally safe cleaner for your upholstery, garment, handbags and shoes in Nubuck or suede.