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How to clean your leather items

Readers Lounge By Esther Muchene
Leather can fade, dry out or even crack when handled haphazardly (Photo: Shutterstock)

Original leather is expensive because it’s durable material. But you still have to be very careful when cleaning it to make sure it doesn’t get damaged.

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If you toss your leather items in the washing machine or in the basin along with other items, you can be sure that they’ll start wearing out quickly. They can fade, dry out or even crack when handled haphazardly.

This is what you should do instead. 

  • Get your cleaning items

For this process you’ll need clean, plain microfiber cloths, mild moisturizing soap like baby soap, leather conditioner and distilled water.

Microfiber cloths work best because they are gentle on leather. It’s even better if they’re not colored because some tend to bleed on your items which cause stains.

You should avoid harsh soaps and detergents for this process. They’ll dry out and crack the material.

Although ordinary water works, distilled water would be more effective in preserving your items. It won’t leave behind mineral stain or dull the material.

  • Dust the items first 

Remove any huge particles and dust from your items before anything else. If you’re cleaning leather shoes, use a soft brush to remove the debris. This will clear any particles that could stain or scratch your leather when cleaning.

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  • Do a spot test

Don’t proceed with the cleaning process before doing a spot test first. You have to see how the leather reacts with the cleaning products you’re using so you can make appropriate changes if necessary.

Dip the cloth in the soapy water and wring it, then test on a small patch. If you notice some discoloration or any other signs of a reaction, dilute the soap with more water or switch to something milder.

Restore the moisture, elasticity and shine on your item by using a leather conditioner (Photo: Shutterstock)

How to clean

Never dip leather items directly into water. It will end up being oversaturated which could cause mold to grow. You should wet the cloth instead and then rub it against the material. Wipe with gentle strokes with the grain on the leather to prevent any damage.

Once you’re sure that the stains are gone, use a clean cloth to rinse the soap. Ensure that you don’t leave any residue behind.

How to dry 

Let your items dry in a cool environment away from direct sunlight. Sunlight is too strong for leather because it can dehydrate it and leave cracks. Place them in a cool shade or in a room for some of the water to evaporate. Don’t let it dry completely.

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Conditioning 

While the item is still damp, restore the moisture, elasticity and shine on your item by using a leather conditioner. Settle on a conditioner that’s suitable for the type of leather you’re cleaning.

If you’re not sure on which one to use, choose one that has the best reviews. You should also do a spot test first to ensure everything is okay then let the item dry for a few hours.

Be careful with moisturizers because a little goes a long way. Put a few drops on the item, spread it evenly and buff it in.

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