The best method for cleaning leather is determined by the type of the stain and the type of the leather. Read How to Treat Stains in Leather for advice on removing specific stains.
The following are instructions for general leather cleaning: Before cleaning leather, determine whether the leather is finished - like luggage, furniture and garments - or unfinished - like baseball gloves, work boots and saddles. Then follow the instructions below to keep your leather looking fabulous.
Place a small amount of a gentle, moisturizing soap such as Dove on a damp cloth and bring it to a light lather.
Rub the damp cloth on the leather without putting too much water on the leather.
Wipe away lather with a fresh damp cloth. Don't rinse the leather in water.
Polish leather with a dry towel.
Treat leather with a leather conditioner after it has dried completely.
Use a damp cloth or sponge to rub saddle soap into the leather; work soap into a light lather.
Wipe away lather and allow to air dry.
Oil leather with a leather preservative such as mink oil.
How to Treat Stains in Leather Instructions
Mildew stains. Mix 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) rubbing alcohol with 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) water. Moisten a cloth with the mixture and wipe the affected area. Leave to dry.
Ink stains. Spray the affected area with hairspray, then wipe it off with a clean cloth. Ink can be extremely difficult to remove, so you may need to consult a leather-cleaning professional.
Water stains. Allow a soaked leather garment to dry slowly and naturally. Keep the item away from heat sources, and restore its softness with a leather conditioner after it's dry. For soaked leather shoes, insert shoe trees and let air-dry.
Grease stains. Blot excess grease with a clean cloth. Sprinkle talcum powder or cornstarch on the affected area. Let sit for at least 4 hours, then wipe off the powder.
Protein (Blood, Urine) Stains. Blot excess moisture with a clean, damp cloth. Allow item to dry slowly, away from a heat source.
Gum. Rub with a plastic bag of ice cubes to harden the gum, and then pull off the gum. For any residual gum, heat the area with a hair dryer and rub off the gum with a clean cloth.
Salt Stains. Mix a solution of 3 parts vinegar to 1 part water. Moisten a cloth with the vinegar solution and dab on the affected area.
Discoloration. For leather garments, gloves and bags that are discolored, use a leather spray designed to restore color. These products are sold at shoe repair shops; choose the color that most closely matches.