How to Clean Leather Shoes, Couches, and Bags... Oh My!

black 6 seater leather sofa in a modern living room

In a general sense, leather has been a sought after material for a number of reasons. Apart from its luxurious texture and appearance, leather is a strong and durable material which can last for several years if given the right care and maintenance. This, of course, begins with proper cleaning techniques and solutions to ensure a safe, effective, and damage-free end result.

Now, considering the fact that leather is used to manufacture different types of products, each cleaning method varies from one another -- sometimes slightly, sometimes entirely. You also need to keep in mind that leather should not be soaked as this can damage the material. To know more about how to take care of leather products, Maid For You is sharing three separate cleaning guides on how to clean leather shoes, leather couches, and leather bags! Let’s take a look at them now.

How to Clean Leather Shoes/Boots

A man cleaning worn brown leather boots by hand

Prone to mud, dirt, and soil, a relatively new pair of leather shoes or boots can look terribly aged and worn if left in a filthy condition. So, to make your leather shoes look new again, follow the simple steps below.

Step 1: Take Out and Clean Removable Parts

Shoelaces and insoles are typically the only removable parts, however, if your leather boots or shoes have other components that can be taken out, we advise doing so and cleaning separately. Laces can be machine-washed while insoles will require scrubbing with laundry detergent and a toothbrush. Rinse these parts thoroughly and leave them aside to dry (shaded sunlight helps with quick-drying).

Step 2: Brush the Material

Before you can give your leather shoes a deeper clean, loose dirt on the surface should be removed or else, it will get spread around later. Use a gentle cleaning brush for this, and don’t forget the inside of the shoes where loose debris can also accumulate. 

Step 3: Wipe with a Mild Cleaning Solution

When it comes to leather, avoid scrubbing or using too much pressure; the material is easier to clean can fabric and hence, only requires a gentle wipe down with a mild cleaning solution made of dish soap and warm water. Clean with a soft cloth dampened in the solution, not soaked. As far as the midsole, outsole, and heel are concerned, a toothbrush and dish soap can be used to scrub away dirt and grime.

Step 4: ‘Rinse’ the Shoes and Dry

In no way do we mean rinsing off the shoes under running water; instead, take a clean damp cloth and wipe over the leather to remove soap residue. Once this has been done thoroughly, carefully rinse the midsole, outsole, and heel with water. Finish off by pat-drying the leather with a lint-free towel.

How to Clean a Leather Couch/Sofa

person cleaning white leather couch with a blue cloth

No matter what the material is, grime and stains on your couch are inevitable. What’s worse, if not cleaned routinely, they can ruin your leather couch/sofa overtime. To prevent that from happening, here’s how to clean your leather sofa in four quick steps.

Step 1: Make a Water-Vinegar Cleaning Solution

Vinegar is a gentle cleaner and yet, very effective in removing light soil and stains from a leather couch. To make this miracle cleaning solution, mix equal parts water and white vinegar; pour the mixture into a spray bottle and shake well (do this before every use).

Step 2: Vacuum the Material

You’ll probably notice that your leather sofa accumulates dust and debris over time; while a regular wipe down is advised as a maintenance measure, during a deep clean, the use of a vacuum cleaner + leather-appropriate attachment head is better suited for the job. When vacuuming your leather couch, be as thorough as possible to pick up loose debris from the surface, as well as nooks and crannies.

Step 3: Wipe with the Cleaning Solution

Take a clean, soft cloth (preferably a microfibre cloth), spray it with your water-vinegar cleaning solution until it is merely damp, and wipe over the leather couch to remove grime and stains. Bear in mind that some stains might require a little elbow grease to remove, however, excessive pressure is not advised. You may also need to rinse out the cloth or use a fresh one if it gets too soiled. For stubborn marks or dirt, consider purchasing a specially formulated product to remove stains from your leather couch/sofa. 

Step 4: Dry with a Towel

Ultimately, the material needs to air dry until all moisture and dampness vanish; still, we advise wiping your freshly cleaned leather couch/sofa with a dry towel and then leaving it to dry completely. To ensure that the material dries up quickly, run the ceiling fans and open up windows to increase ventilation in the room.

How to Clean Leather Bags

person wearing white gloves cleaning black leather bag

Finally, it’s time for our simple step-by-step guide to clean leather bags. Whether it’s a lady’s handbag, a fanny pack, or a backpack; bags are prone to dirt and soil because they often end up on not-so-clean surfaces when you’re out and about. So, if your leather bag has encountered dirt and stains, the guide below will help you get it all cleaned up!

Step 1: Remove Loose Debris

Use a soft brush to remove debris from the interior and exterior of the bag. Don’t worry about stubborn dirt, we will tackle that in the next step. Alternatively, you can wipe the leather with a dry cloth, however, a brush is more effective around zippers and pockets.

Step 2: Clean with Water and Vinegar

Like a leather sofa, leather bags can also be cleaned with a water-vinegar solution. For this, you may find a soft-bristled toothbrush useful in spot cleaning stains on the leather, as well as on the inner lining of the bag and strap(s). The rest of the bag interior and exterior can be wiped down with a clean cloth dampened in the cleaning solution.

Step 3: Pat Dry

Use a lint-free towel, pat and hold down on the leather to remove as much moisture as possible; do the same for the inside. Avoid zipping up or closing the bag (and pockets) until it is completely dry, inside and outside. 

Important Tip to Maintain Leather

person cleaning a white leather couch with a blue cloth and detergent

Not a lot of people know this but a leather conditioner will help prevent future stains and grime on the material while keeping it nice and shiny! The great part about this is that you can condition your leather products with a homemade solution consisting of vinegar (1 part) and linseed oil (2 parts). Simply apply it to the material and give it a good 15 minutes before buffing with a microfibre cloth. 

There you have it! Three excellent, safe, and effective ways to clean leather shoes, couches, and bags! Be sure to give these simple leather cleaning guides a try if you want to make that luxurious material look new again!

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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