Can you wash leather?


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Yes, it is possible to clean leather by handwashing without submerging in water.

Leather items are not typically machine washable and should not be submerged in water. Doing so can lead to the leather drying out, cracking, or distorting in shape.

Dos and don’ts of washing leather


  • Do dust frequently: Use a microfiber cloth to remove dust and surface dirt regularly.
  • Do use specialized leather cleaners: They are designed to clean without damaging the leather.
  • Do test a small, inconspicuous area first: Before applying any cleaner, always test it on a small, hidden area to ensure it won’t discolor or damage the leather.
  • Do clean spills immediately: If any liquid spills on the leather, clean it up right away with a dry cloth to prevent stains.
  • Do condition after cleaning: Use a leather conditioner to keep the leather soft and prevent cracking.
  • Do keep out of direct sunlight: Excessive heat and sun can dry out and fade leather.
  • Do seek professional help for serious stains or damage: If the leather item is valuable or the stain seems too tough, it may be best to get help from a professional leather cleaner.


  • Don’t use harsh detergents or abrasive cleaners: These can strip the leather of its natural oils and cause damage.
  • Don’t soak the leather: Never submerge leather in water or let it get excessively wet.
  • Don’t dry using heat: Avoid using a hairdryer or placing the leather item near a heater. Air dry leather items naturally.
  • Don’t ignore manufacturer’s instructions: If your leather item came with specific cleaning instructions, follow those.
  • Don’t use oil or polish designed for other materials: Not every oil or polish is suitable for leather. Some may cause discoloration or other damage.
  • Don’t try to clean serious stains yourself: If you’re dealing with a tough stain or significant damage, it’s better to seek professional help rather than risk worsening the problem.

5-step guide to washing leather

Step 1

Dust Off
Use a dry, soft microfiber cloth to gently dust off the leather. This removes any loose dirt or dust that could scratch the leather during the cleaning process.

Step 2

Test The Cleaner
Before applying any cleaner, test it on a small, hidden area of the leather to ensure it doesn’t cause any discoloration or damage. This could be a leather-specific cleaner or a mild soap solution.

Step 3

Apply The Cleaner
If your test spot shows no adverse reaction, apply your cleaner to the rest of the item. Use a damp (not wet), soft cloth to gently rub the cleaner onto the leather in a circular motion.

Step 4

Dry The Leather
Pat the leather dry with a clean, soft cloth. Let it air dry naturally in a well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight or heat.

Step 5

Condition The Leather
After the leather is completely dry, apply a leather conditioner to keep the leather soft and prevent it from drying out and cracking.

Remember, every piece of leather is unique and may respond differently to cleaning and conditioning. Always follow any specific instructions provided by the manufacturer when available. If the leather item is particularly valuable or if you’re unsure about cleaning it yourself, it may be best to seek professional help.


Can I machine wash my leather item?

No, leather items should not be machine washed. This can cause the leather to lose its shape, color, and texture. It’s best to clean leather items by hand using a leather cleaner or mild soap solution.

Can I use any type of soap to clean leather?

No, it’s recommended to use a mild, non-detergent soap. Harsher soaps can strip the natural oils from the leather, causing it to dry out and crack.

How often should I clean my leather items?

Leather items should be cleaned whenever they get dirty or roughly every six months to maintain their condition. However, leather should be conditioned more frequently, about every 2-3 months, depending on the usage and environment.

What should I do if I spill something on my leather item?

If something spills on your leather item, you should blot it up immediately with a clean, dry cloth. Avoid rubbing, as this can spread the stain. If the stain doesn’t come out, it may be best to seek professional help.

Can I dry my leather item in the sun or with a hairdryer?

No, both direct sunlight and high heat can cause the leather to dry out and crack. Leather items should be air-dried in a well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight.

Can I use a leather conditioner on any type of leather?

Not all leather conditioners are suitable for all types of leather. Always check the label of the conditioner and test a small, inconspicuous area first. It’s also important to note that some types of leather, such as suede or nubuck, require specialized products.

What can I do if my leather item has a tough stain or is significantly damaged?

If your leather item has a tough stain or significant damage, it may be best to seek the help of a professional leather cleaner. DIY methods might worsen the problem, especially for expensive or valuable items.

Final thoughts 💭

Caring for leather requires a gentle touch and the right approach. Leather items aren’t suitable for machine washing or the use of harsh detergents; instead, they need specific cleaners or mild soaps. Clean your leather possessions whenever they seem dirty or about every six months to keep them in prime condition. Accidental spills should be tackled immediately by blotting, not rubbing, to prevent stain spread.

When it comes to drying, remember to let your items air dry naturally in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight or heat sources. Regular conditioning helps to maintain the suppleness and prevent cracking, but make sure the conditioner is suited to your specific leather type.

If you’re dealing with stubborn stains or significant damage, it’s advisable to consult a professional leather cleaner to avoid causing more harm to your cherished leather goods.

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