Patent leather def dresses up any 'fit thanks to its glossy material. Even if it can sometimes be an investment, it's the perfect way to make a statement whether you're sporting a patent leather bag, pants, skirt, or shoes. However, with great fashion choices comes great responsibility. We've all been there before: After a night out, you come home to find your fave boots looking not as shiny as they did before or, even worse, with scuff marks all over them. Ugh, why?!
So the question on every patent-leather lover's mind is, how exactly do you clean this type of fabric to maintain that glam look? Honestly, it's not as hard as you think! There are tons of products available on the market that will do the job but, chances are, you have most of what you need right there in your closet or pantry. We've listed out the best ways to clean patent leather for every scenario.
How to clean patent leather if it's looking dull and lost its shine
Turns out, using a bit of soap and water goes a long way! Use a brush with soft bristles to brush off any dirt or debris, which can build up on the creases that develop on leather over time. Bailey Carson, Head of Cleaning for Handy, says to take a soft cotton washcloth and add small amounts of water and a mild soap.
"You don’t want to soak it, just get it a bit damp," she emphasizes. "Wipe down the patent leather and then, with a soft polishing cloth, dry it right after." Let it dry for 24 hours at room temp and afterwards, apply a leather conditioner like this heavy duty one to keep that shine.
How to clean patent leather if it’s scuffed
According to Carson, the best way to remove scuff marks on any leather surface is a common household item—olive oil! Dip a microfiber cloth into a small amount of olive oil and gently rub it over the scuff marks. It should sit for about 15-20 minutes and you can simply use a clean cloth to wipe it right off.
For smaller scuff marks, you can use unscented petroleum jelly (like Vaseline). Just take a clean cloth, dab on a small amount of the petroleum jelly and rub it on the marks using gentle, circular motions. Leave it on the surface for about 10-15 minutes and just like the olive oil, wipe it off with another clean, dry cloth.
Probably the best way to remove a pesky mark is by using any type of patent leather cleaner, but you can also use furniture polish in a pinch. It removes most marks on patent leather and is especially great for shoes.
How to clean patent leather if it’s stained
Whether it's on patent leather clothes or accessories, a visible stain can freak anyone out. While the material is less prone to stains since it's usually coated with lacquer, it can be more susceptible to colour transfer and still get pen and water marks on it. First and foremost, always make sure you spot test before using any products, even if they're technically leather safe.
IF THERE ARE WATER MARKS
This is when rubbing alcohol comes in handy. Dab a little on a cloth and gently rub it over the effected area in a circular motion until you see the spotting disappear.
IF THERE'S AN INK STAIN
For really tough stains like ink, there may not be a totally foolproof way to remove them. A common method is to use tiny bit of rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab and gently dab it on on the ink stain without rubbing (or else it will cause the ink to spread). However, this method can take colour off, so avoid it if you're cleaning dark or colored leather. The easiest (and possibly safest) way to remove an ink stain is by using an ink removing stick or liquid, like this one, which may take a few attempts to fully get it out.
IF IT'S ANY OTHER TYPE OF STAIN
When in doubt, use soap and water. Take a damp cloth (make sure you really wring it out so there's as little water as possible!) and dip into a mild, moisturizing soap. Gently rub the moisturizing soap in circular motions on the water stain while avoiding contact with the non-stained parts of the leather. After that, take a dry piece of cloth and wipe the soap off and leave it to dry completely.
Patent leather cleaners and polishes, right this way!
Patent Leather Cleaner
Vernis Rife Patent Leather Cleaner
Lemon Enhancing Polish
Leather Shoe Cleaner
How do you get creases or wrinkles out of patent leather?
Those all too familiar creases and wrinkles can also be removed, but very carefully. Carson recommends using an iron and a brown paper bag (yes, you read that right!). Here are the steps you can use:
1. Heat up the iron and, while it's heating, put the brown paper bag on top of the wrinkled or creased area. You can also use a clean, lint-free cloth.
2. Once the iron is hot, unplug it and let it cool for about 10 minutes or until it's warm to the touch. Make sure the iron isn't too hot or it might damage the material.
3. Press the warm iron very gently on top of the brown paper bag in a circular motion, which will help loosen up the leather and remove the wrinkles. "Make sure you keep the iron in motion and not sitting on one section for too long to avoid causing any damage to the leather," says Carson.
Is the cleaning process the same for any patent leather item?
The simple answer is yes. However, there may be certain aspects to patent leather items that need extra attention. For instance, a leather jacket may have more creases than a shoe, since the patent leather may be a bit more loose, so you’ll want to make sure you’re cleaning and paying attention to those areas well.