Cleaning white leather. Tips and tricks

Leather is a common material for shoes, clothing, and upholstery. It gives a luxurious look to items and is a beloved choice all over the world. Leather can be tanned to create a smooth finish like aniline or Napa leather or processed into a softer finish like suede or nubuck. White leather is produced without the use of coloured dyes during the alum or chrome tanning process.
While they are stunning, white leather goods (upholstery, accessories, or clothing) are extremely susceptible to staining and discolouration. They require regular cleaning and maintenance. This article will show you exactly how to do that and prevent yellowing.

You must regularly clean and condition your white leather goods to prevent staining and cracking. Wipe down upholstery or items that are regularly used, with a damp microfiber cloth. That will remove smudges, soil, and other grime.

  • Couches, sofas, and chairs – Clean and dust at least once a week.
  • Purse or handbag – Wipe and clean once per week or more often if needed.
  • Shoes – Clean after every wear.
  • Jackets – Once a year, or seasonally if worn on a daily basis.

Before you begin, make sure you read any care label instructions for the particular item on hand. Manufacturers will mention any specific maintenance requirements. Avoid doing anything else to avoid damage to the surface of the leather.

  1. Make (or purchase) a cleaning solution – While you can always buy a weather cleaner in the shop, it is as easy to make your own. Here are two recipes you can use to clean your white leather goods. Put the mixture in a spray bottle:
    • Mix 1 part Castile soap with 8 parts lukewarm water.
    • Mix 2 parts white distilled vinegar with 1 part olive oil or linseed oil.
  2. Wipe the leather with a damp microfiber cloth – Before cleaning the item, it is important to get rid of all dust and surface soil first. Dampen a microfiber cloth with plain water and wring it until it is not dripping. Wipe down the whole surface.
  3. Apply the cleaning solution – Instead of applying the cleaning mixture directly on the leather, you can spray it on a clean microfiber cloth first. This will prevent over-saturation and possible watermarks.
  4. Wipe down the leather – Use a damp cloth sprayed with cleaning solution, beginning at the top of a piece and working in small sections. Use a gentle, circular motion and avoid scrubbing. If any soil remains, apply a little more cleaning solution.
  5. Buff the leather – There is no need to rinse the cleaning solution. Grab a clean microfiber cloth (make sure it is completely dry) and buff the leather after you are done with its cleaning.

Additional maintenance tips for white leather items:

  • If oil or grease stains appear on the leather, liberally apply baby powder or cornstarch to the affected area. Allow at least four hours for the powder to sit on the stain—the oil will be absorbed by the powder. Remove the greasy powder with a brush or vacuum and repeat until the stain is gone.
  • When an ink stain occurs, blot it away with a white paper towel or a Magic Eraser (make sure you don’t scrub or spread the stain). Dip a cotton swab in isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) and rub it on the stain, working from the outside edge toward the centre to prevent the ink from spreading. As the ink transfers, switch to a clean swab. Work slowly until all of the ink has been removed. If the leather appears dull after treatment, recondition it with a leather conditioner or a tiny dab of olive oil.
  • Scuff marks on white leather shoes are common. You can gently buff away the marks with a melamine sponge (such as Mr Clean Magic Eraser). Scrubbing can remove the surface finish of the leather, so be extra careful. If that does not work, you can make your own cleaning paste by combining equal parts lemon juice and cream of tartar. Allow the paste to sit on the stained area for up to 30 minutes. With a damp cloth, remove the paste and buff the leather with a microfiber cloth. Repeat until the stain is gone, then apply a leather conditioner to restore the finish of the leather and keep it from drying and cracking.

Things you can do to keep your white leather items good-looking and prevent them from yellowing
If your once bright white leather couch is now butter-coloured, you may end up being nothing but disappointed. This yellowing is caused by air pollution and materials that oxidise and cause the leather fibres to break down. While your white leather will eventually yellow with time, there are things you can do to prevent that.

  • Avoid smoking in the house. If you smoke in your living room or in the room where your white leather upholstery is, cigarette smoke will certainly speed up the yellowing.
  • Do not forget to clean your white leather on a regular basis. Pay special attention to your white leather items and do not forget to add this to your domestic cleaning schedule.
  • Condition the leather on a regular basis. A good leather conditioner will not only protect it from stains and damage but will also slow down yellowing.