How to Clean Leather

how to clean leatherLeather is notoriously difficult to clean. You aren’t supposed to get it wet, so how can you possibly clean it? We spend enormous sums of money to purchase a new  jacket or sofa, but the first time it gets dirty, it’s often considered ruined. Leather is a very expensive natural product, so when an item made from this material acquires a stain, it would be nice to be able to remove it yourself. After all, you already spent a bunch of money on it in the first place, so you probably don’t want to spend more just to keep it clean. Many people resort to calling in a specialist or professional company to return their leather to it’s former glory, but that is usually not at all necessary.

Cleaning leather yourself is thought to be risky. Traditional products are very testy, and prone to causing more damage than good. For this reason, it’s often advised to test the cleaner you are using on a small, non-noticeable spot before moving on to the larger area. This is because the chemical compounds that are the active ingredients can alter color, remove color, or otherwise damage the stuff you are trying to make look better. Instead of improving the area, you could easily be causing more extensive damage without even knowing it.

Home-made remedies include using Windex, nail polish remover, hair spray and toothpaste, but the results with those are about as disappointing as the methods are crazy sounding. These techniques don’t usually work that well, and most people wouldn’t want to spray Windex on their couch anyway. Just because Crest can brush away plaque and tarter, does not make it well suited to remove a greasy stain from the arm of your sofa.

If you use any product that adds moisture,  you are just asking for trouble. As soon as you spray it on there, or wipe it in with a rag, you will immediately see a darkening of the area. This can be temporary or it can be permanent, but one thing is for sure, it’s risky. For this reason, regular all purpose sprays, soap and water, and other common methods of cleaning have to be eliminated from your choices. It’s pretty bad to have a dirty couch, grimy coat or staining on the leather upholstery in our car, but it’s even worse to have that dirt remain along with new water spots and other staining brought about by using inadequate products.

Leather Cleaning Tips:

Traditional ways of Cleaning

Despite how thick and tough looking it is, leather is one of the more delicate and volatile surfaces we clean in our homes. Traditional methods have proven to be less than effective, so most people are left guessing, searching the internet, or just dealing with the dirt because they don’t know what else to do. Common recommendations include using hand soap and a damp cloth to surface clean products, or turning to some sort of specialized product. As you know, hand soap has a hard time getting rid of anything but loose dirt off on your skin without intense scrubbing involved, and it’s no different for  your coat. You may be able to get some light grime off, but any set in dirt or staining will remain after you are finished. Because you are using a damp cloth, you also run the risk of discoloring your leather as moisture begins to absorb and sink in, and that does not even take into account how you are supposed to get the soap off.

Most of us rinse the soap off of our hands with water from the faucet, but this would be a very bad idea when it comes to leather. You can wipe it away with a clean rag, or take a wet one without soap to remove even more, but chances are you will just end up with an area that is not really clean, and also coated with soap. Whenever you use a method like this, it will also be recommended to follow it up with a conditioning product. This is because it’s common for the material to dry out, so if you don’t condition afterward, you may be left with a dry surface that is more brittle and susceptible to damage than when you started. If too dry, the material will begin to crack, and that’s something that you can’t really fix.

If you go to the store, you can find products specifically designed  for this job, and they will come in a spray bottle, or a convenient wipe on form. They will be pretty darn expensive, and they will not be good for anything but this one job. With a spray application, it will be quick and easy, but the results will be less than stellar.  Most times you are supposed to just spray on and then wipe off right away with a dry towel. Some of these can be decently effective for conditioning the leather, and making it look a bit nicer, but you will not actually be removing that much dirt. A light surface cleaning will be about the best you can do without venturing into dangerous territory. The wipes offer the same sort of power and ability, but the solution is soaked into the wipe so it can be even more convenient as far as use and application goes. Just grab one, wipe down an area and then dry with a towel.

Both of these specialized style cleaners are usually loaded with chemicals. Because it’s nearly impossible to do a thorough rinse on a leather surface,  you will never really remove all of the cleaner after washing, so you will almost always have a residue left over. If the chemicals in the spray or wipe are dangerous, it would be a bad idea for anyone to come in contact with the surface that was cleaned, and the residue will most likely be sticky so that it attracts new dirt. Just because a spray bottle says leather on it, does not mean that it can actually do the job. It most likely will not ruin your couch, and it will probably improve the appearance slightly, but if you want a safer and more effective way to really deep clean and condition the surface, you will want to look at an alternative to these job specific options.

A Better Way

Quick’n Brite is a great leather cleaner. It doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals, and you don’t have to use it with water,  so you never have to worry about it damaging your your sofa, coat or upholstery. It can be more effective with added moisture in some cases, but you can also just use the paste version  alone to eliminate this more risky component. You also eliminate the need for a conditioner if you use this stuff, but the best part about Quick n Brite is how well it works to remove dirt, grime, oil stains and more. Traditional options will recommend using a conditioner after you clean in order to make the area soft again. Their general lack of ability requires this additional step in order to not ruin or stiffen the material. Quick’n Brite conditions the surface as it cleans it, so it will be left soft and supple without extra effort or cost. In a single step, you will be able to remove any dirt or stain, prevent drying, and condition the surface to keep it looking new longer.

What’s even better is that you can use Quick’n Brite all over your home, not just for this one job. Traditional products are for one use only, so you could never remove soap scum from your tub, or grease from your kitchen cabinets like you can with this.  Not only does Quick’n Brite clean and condition better than traditional choices, but you can also use it to wash windows, clean you car inside and out, wash your boat, scrub floors, shampoo carpets and so much more. Buy it for the leather. Use it on everything else.

Cleaning Soft Leather: Jackets, Sofas, Chairs, etc.

Here’s How You Do It:

It doesn’t matter if it is a single, small stain, or if your leather is just dirty all over. Quick n Brite will take out tough stains like red wine, ink, sauces, crayon and more. General dirt and grime build-up is no problem, and it can even remove oily residues, dirt and mud from your pet, or ball point pen ink. It’s hard to believe that it can be so powerful, yet remain so safe for use on all leather products. It doesn’t matter if your surface is finished or unfinished, Quick’n Brite will even clean suede.

  1. Use a warm, damp terry cloth towel to apply the paste full strength to the dirty area. You can also use a dry towel, but you may have better results if you do get it just slightly wet. You only need a small amount because it’s a super concentrated cleaner. A little bit goes a long way.
  2. Work it into the stain using an up and down, then right and left motion. This action breaks up the surface tension in the stain and then a surfactant in the cleaner lifts the dirt, grease, or stain off of the surface. There is no scrubbing necessary, just rub the cleaner into the leather, and it will do the work for you. You will actually see the stain lifting out of your sofa or jacket as you apply the paste.
  3. Now all you have to do is take a dry terry cloth towel and buff the stain out. The dirt will transfer from the surface you are working on as you rub. Once everything moves onto the towel, the area will be incredibly clean . It will also leave it soft and smooth to the touch because it will be conditioning the surface as you clean it instead of infusing it with chemicals to leave it stiff and crunchy.
  4. If this is a particularly tough stain, you may have to repeat this process in order to completely remove all dirt, and reveal a clean surface. For most common grime, a single application will be more than sufficient.

More on cleaning a leather couch with Quick N Brite

Cleaning Tough Leather: Shoes, Boots, Saddles, etc.

The more durable stuff is usually used on things that get more dirty. Leather shoes, especially those worn by children, get pretty gross over time. We often don’t clean them because it’s thought to be too difficult, or we think we need a special product to do it correctly. As with all other leather, Quick n Brite is great for this job. We walk around all day in shoes and boots, and step through any number of disgusting substances, yet those kicks aren’t cleaned all that often. We just buy new ones. Kids come back home with brown pairs that used to be white, but you can breathe new life into those old sneakers without any worry of ruining them, or making them look worse in the process. QB will remove the oldest dirt, and toughest grime, so even outside play shoes will be cleaner than ever, and soft to the touch. Take out grass stains, ground in mud and dirt, dog droppings, tar and oil and just about anything else they might have collected. When you clean leather with Quick n Brite you are not only getting rid of the dirt, you are conditioning the surface at the same time. Your boots will look way newer, and they will be soft and flexible so comfort and wear-ability will not be affected.

  • For dirty sneakers and similar items, take a warm, damp non-abrasive scrub sponge and apply the cleaner to the shoes. You could also just use a damp towel if you are worried about the surface, but something slightly abrasive will give better results in many cases.
  • Apply it to all leather surfaces, and then continue to clean the canvas, fabric, plastic, and anything else. You can even use it to wash the bottom of each sole.
  • Once you have applied it all over, simply take a dry terry cloth towel and wipe them clean.
  • For extremely dirty pairs, you should let the paste sit for 10-20 minutes or so prior to wiping it off.
  • You will be amazed at how well it works on even the dirtiest pairs. All of the greens, yellows and browns will wipe clean to reveal a newer looking white surface underneath.
  • For dress shoes with a fine finish that could be harmed by the scrub sponge, just use a damp towel to apply the cleaner.
  • For really tough stains, or thick layers of dirt, repeat this process for best results. Don’t throw out those used, dirty sneakers. Try the steps above to keep on wearing them.

More on How To Clean Leather Shoes

Bottom Line

Whether it is a water spot, road salt stain, ink, grease, blood or urine on your leather, Quick n Brite will clean it. You have tried the rest, now try the best. You may have had bad experiences with other methods, or you may not know how to clean leather at all. Quick n Brite is the best all-purpose solution available, and it will allow you to get results easily, while preventing and eliminating many of the common downsides typically associated with this job. Non-toxic and biodegradable, it’s safe around children and pets, and is truly the only cleaner you need. If you have tried other products in the past without success, or if you are currently searching for the best way to improve the appearance of an old jacket or expensive chair, it’s a good place to start . It can be used on any finish, and it doesn’t matter if it upholstery in your car or a couch in your living room. This stuff is one of the safest and most effective ways to get the surface clean and leave it feeling great, all in one quick and easy step.

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  1. Is there any way to disinfect leather? At our facility we use 10% clorox solution to disinfect many things….not the leather though. What can we use to disinfect a leather couch?

    (2) (10)
  2. I looked up the cleaner site. It does not say anything about cleaning and conditioning leather.

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  3. They may not make it incredibly clear, but this stuff is great for leather. It doesn’t matter if you have dirty sneakers or a dingy sofa. Quick n Brite will work great. It most certainly conditions as it cleans too. For soft, clean leather, this is a great choice.

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  4. I have a pig leather backpack? Can I use the same remedies on that is used on cow leather?

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  5. I have a “Joe” chair (shaped like a LARGE baseball glove, from Stendig in Italy. Original value about $9,000.00). It is a very light tan soft leather, and it has many stains on it from an unauthorized party. Any attempt to remove stains turns the leather darker… any suggestions?

    (7) (0)
  6. This dark discoloration is pretty normal for leather. It happens when liquid is absorbed by the material. This is why you want to avoid using water, or spraying any sort of liquid cleaner onto leather when trying to remove stains. It is also why liquid spills from beverages can create some of the worst stains on leather furniture. If you use Quick’n Brite in the paste form, it allows you to clean without using any water. You will just apply the paste to the stain full strength. Work it in and then buff the area clean with a dry terry cloth towel. This method should be far more effective than the other methods you have tried. Quick’n Brite won’t change the color of your chair, and any area that you clean will not only be spotless, it will also feel nice and soft to the touch.

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  7. My son and fiance were visiting and now the suede leather chair has a large circular stain in the head rest area. I don’t know if it is oil or hair products. How would I clean this?

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  8. This can be tough because this type of staining actually soaks into the leather and changes it’s color which is more difficult than something dirty on top. Luckily though, Quick’n Brite is an excellent degreaser, so it should work well to remove this too! Just use the paste full strength. Apply it directly to the spot and work it in. Do not use water, or add moisture. Once on there, let it sit for a few minutes, and then take a dry terry cloth towel to complete the job. Buff the area clean with the towel. You should see the staining lighten as it transfers to the towel. You may need more than one application in order to completely clean this type of mess, but Quick’n Brite should prove to be safe and effective for this job.

    (1) (0)
  9. I’m afraid you didn’t talk about suede shoes in the “Clean Leather Shoes and Sneakers” paragraph. Does it mean Quick’n Brite can’t clean the oil stain in my brown leather suede shoes. Because of the accident to my leg i normally wear suede shoes and i will be very glad if i can get something like Quick’n Brite that will be removing the stains. Your reply will be very vital in my decision. Thank you.

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  10. Do you know will this product clean a red wine stain from a leather dress? Many thanks

    (1) (0)
  11. Just about to clean a leather chair (Lazy Boy) and am sensitive to things. I see the recomended cleaner and seperate conditioner has “butyl cellosolve” which is a neuro toxin. What are the ingredients in Quick’n Brite?

    (0) (0)
  12. It is a naturally derived enzyme cleaner that is incredibly safe. Basically the perfect cleaner for chemically sensitive people. The main ingredients come from coconut, vegetable fat and seaweed.

    (0) (0)
  13. We have an extremely dried out sofa sectional that has one side that is a favorite seating place. Can you use the product to clean an entire 7 – 9 ft. sofa? And how much would be needed to do so?

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  14. I have a beautiful pair of light tan unfinished leather boots – I wanted to keep them in good condition and naively put a neutral wax on them thinking that was the thing to do(which I later discovered is a total no no) the leather has absorbed the wax and they have completely changed colour to a richer brown. Will this cleaner remove the wax and restore to their natural colour?

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    • It may not be able to restore the color, but it should remove the waxy build-up. If it is the coating that is causing the color difference, then it would work, but if it has chemically altered the material or something like that, it may be a permanent color change.

      (0) (0)
  15. I did not see how to disinfect leather. I have been sick with strep throat and confined myself to the recliner. How can I disinfect it w/o sraying Lysol on it or wiping it with Clorox Wipes? Or can I use these products?

    (0) (0)
    • Quick’n Brite does not kill germs because it is all natural. It does however, enable you to remove 99.9% of the germs on the surface you are cleaning. So, yes it does disinfect.

      (0) (0)
  16. Be really careful when cleaning your leather sofa. I ruined our sofa trying to clean off some marks from the head rest :-(

    (0) (0)
  17. I have a leather sofa that is 100% leather and it was not cheap. However, I have 4 children (ages 9 to 1 year) and although I have been very consistent in trying to keep the couch clean, somehow pen marks have managed to make its way on the leather couch. I am scared of what to use to get the ink out of the couch for fear of damaging the leather even more. Would you recommend the Quick ‘n Brite for this? Can you buy this product in a store or is it only available online?

    (0) (0)
    • Four kids aren’t cheap either. Especially when you factor in damage like this. The good news is yes, Quick n Brite will absolutely clean this mess. You’re not going to find it in stores locally, so you’ll have to wait for it to arrive, but the only thing similar that would not come clean, is permanent marker like a shapie. Regular old ball point pen ink is easy peasy, and you only need very little to quickly clean it, so there is no risk to that pricey sofa. Use the paste full strength to sort of scratch at and lift the ink with your fingernails, then wipe clean with a dry terry cloth towel. You will love how easy and effective this stuff is.

      (0) (0)
  18. I have a red leather sofa that was cleaned with a dab of hand soap and water and now there are black stains all over. How can I get rid of these stains..PLEASE HELP!

    (0) (0)
    • Without looking, it is difficult to tell if the dark color is due to moisture absorbing, the soap, or if the initial dirt has just been spread and amplified. This is a prime example of why you want to use as little moisture as possible when cleaning leather, and also stick to something that is proven to work. You do stand a good chance to get the spots out using Quick N Bite, but it is hard to guarantee without more details. One thing is for sure, you will not make it any worse, and you will have a useful cleaner on hand the next time you need to clean your couch.

      (0) (0)
    • I realize your comment is from 2013, but I have the same problem. Did you find a solution to removing the black marks that appeared after cleaning the red leather sofa?

      (0) (0)
  19. I have a leather seat safari chair. Unfortunately I found an oil stain after a few days from a liquid home air freshener. The leather is extremely light colored the oil has soaked in and large dark oil circles are present. What can I do?

    (0) (0)
    • Quick N Brite should do the trick. Take some paste, full strength, and apply it to the oil stains. Let it sit for about ten minutes, and then buff out with a dry terry cloth towel. Depending upon how bad it is, you may have to do two applications to remove all signs. The light color should not pose a problem, as it will not be affected by the cleaner. It will cut through the oil, and release the bond it has with the leather material. When you rub with the towel, you will see the dark color go away from your chair as it transfers to the towel. Thanks to the ability of the Quick N Brite, no conditioner or treatment will be needed after you get it clean.

      (0) (0)
  20. My father has dementia, and quite often urine by accident on his shoes. As a diabetic we purchased some sandals for hm to wear at the care hme of which are made of leather. How can I get rid of the urine smell I
    From these sandals?

    (0) (0)
    • You’re in luck! Not only is Quick N Brite a powerful cleaner and conditioner, it also eliminates odors as it removes dirt. We recommend it for pet stains on carpet for this very same reason. It will absolutely clean the leather sandals and get out the yucky smell all at the same time.

      (0) (0)
  21. Can I use this product on.leather car seats that are ruined and you.want it too look new again.

    (0) (0)
    • You sure can. It will clean them wonderfully, but it will not do anything magical like eliminate cracks or holes. What it will do is remove all dirt and condition the leather at the same time.

      (0) (0)
  22. Hello there I am so thrilled I found your blog, I really found you by error, while I was searching on Askjeeve for something else, Nonetheless I am here now and would just like to say cheers for a
    remarkable post and a all round entertaining blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to browse it all
    at the minute but I have saved it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back
    to read more, Please do keep up the great work.

    (0) (0)
  23. Leather Coach Purse I Spilled Nail Polish On Tried To Use Non Acetone Remover Hot On Purse It Took Off Some Of Purses Leather Color. If I Use this Will It Blend, Condition, And Treat It?

    (0) (0)
    • Well… You would have been better off if you had read this prior to starting. The damage already done may not be reversible. It is hard to say without seeing it. Quick N Brite will not remove color, or destroy the leather which is good in general, but it will not help if you are trying to blend away what you have already done. This is why other methods and products always caution you to use on a non-visible spot first.

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  25. Can Quick-n-Brite be purchased locally outside of the state of Washington? I am in Wichita KS, and, so far, have struck out trying to find it locally.

    (1) (0)
    • It is pretty tough to find locally. Most times a home show or fair will be the only local option. If you’re not aware of a demonstration coming to your area, just order from us and you will have it within a few days. Most Quick n Brite orders will ship the same day you place it, and many ship with a 2-3 day delivery with our standard shipping option.

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  26. My house caught fire and burned at the back my leather living room suite was not burned but smoked up really bad ! Is it possible to clean it and reuse ???

    (0) (0)
    • Hard to guarantee without seeing it, but from what you describe, yes, it should do the trick. It is safe to use on leather, and it will certainly remove soot and smoke residues. You will just want to be careful with the moisture due to the material, but paste and a dry towel should work well for this job.

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  27. Water leaked from a water bottle into the bottom of my clay colored leather purse, leaving water marks. The marks are actually the outline of where the water soaked through. Will Quick and Brite remove the water stains?

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  28. My boss has a very expensive leather briefcase and a new company car with leather seats. Apparently the dye from the briefcase has bled, or actually “dyed” the leather on his car seats. Will this product clean dye from leather seats? If not, do you have any recommendations?

    (0) (0)
    • Yes. It doesn’t work 100% on permanent inks and dyes, but this one has recently transferred, so there’s nothing permanent about it, and that means Quick n Brite should do the trick. Because the dye is known to bleed, you will want to be careful with spreading as you begin to lift the color from the seat. It’s recommended that you clean one small area at a time, and sort of blot the color up and off without rubbing.

      (0) (0)
  29. I have tan leather boots that are dirty from mud and other stains. Which type of quick n bite should I used

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  30. I need to clean a very old leather couch. I tried several products that didn’t even seem to touch the dirt. The grime seems deeply embedded in the leather. I tested QB on a small area and at first it didn’t seem to do much but I re applied and followed some of your suggestions and some of the dirt came off. So my question is: how many times is it safe to reapply the product to get most or all of the dirt off? Should I wait between applications? I first used a cheap sponge, then used an upholstery brush I had (in a circular motion and then side to side and up and down). Thank you for your help.

    (0) (0)
    • Glad to hear it’s working. You can keep applying until you get the results you want. Because the grime layered on over many years of use, Quick N Brite won’t remove it all at once. As you have noticed, it will take away one layer at a time, so really dirty stuff like your couch may take several applications in order to become totally clean.

      (0) (0)
  31. I have a stain that came from leaving a wrap gift on the dash of my motorhome. Will this product remove it?

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      • I have a beautiful pebbled leather bright yellow clutch that I wore under my arm and I believe it was my black leather jacket that rubbed up against the leather – and now I have some light black areas on the beautiful yellow leather – Will Quick and Brite remove these marks?

        (0) (0)
        • Yes. It should work for this job. As with any other leather surface, you should use caution, and you should test a small area before trying to remove the whole stain.

          (0) (0)
  32. Where can I buy this Quick n brite to clean leather need y tombuy some or where can I buy it from?

    (0) (0)



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