Martha's Advice For Cleaning Suede & Leather

I love the videos from Martha Stewart, where she gives lots of great tips for dealing with various spots and spills on fabric, and in this one she does the same for cleaning suede and leather.


There is so much information packed in the video I suggest you watch it for yourself, but I will summarize what I thought were some of the best tips and pieces of advice in case you don't want to watch it all (it is almost seven minutes long).

Tips For Cleaning Leather

The first thing I learned from this video is that there are two basic types of dyed leather -- aniline and painted leather.

Aniline Versus Painted Leather

Aniline leather is where the dye is impregnated into the skin itself, while painted leather, as you might be able to guess, has a dye basically painted on the surface of the skin.

Apparently, according to the dry cleaner who is discussing these things with Martha, you should leave cleaning of aniline leather to professionals.

Of course, that type of leather is much less common, so most likely the items you've got in your home which are leather, including couches, purses, car upholstery, and even many clothes, will be painted leather and you can do some things with them at home safely.

How To Test What Kind Of Leather You've Got

I would assume professionals would be able to just look at a leather item and be able to know what type of leather it was, but for the rest of us there is a simple test we can do to find out what kind of leather we've got.

Grab a q-tip and get it wet with just a little mineral spirits. In an inconspicuous area rub the wet q-tip on the leather, and if some dye comes off onto the q-tip you'll know you've got painted leather, whereas if it does not you've got aniline leather.

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General Surface Cleaning Of Painted Leather: Use Baby Wipes!

This is, perhaps, the most genius thing I heard during the whole video, which is that for general surface cleaning, and removing stains that haven't penetrated the surface of the leather you can use baby wipes.

That means if you've got some light accumulated grime on your leather purse, or a spot of something spilled onto your leather couch, just grab a baby wipe and clean it up!

I've been saying for just about forever that baby wipes are quite awesome inventions, and this just seems to confirm it for me. If you're interested in finding out more ways you can use these items in your home check out my page of uses for baby wipes here.

Tips For Cleaning Suede

Suede, as we all probably know, is much harder to care for at home than leather is.

The main thing this professional says you can do at home with suede is brush it. But apparently brushing will remove lots of surface stains and grime, so it really can be worth your time to invest in a suede brush if you've got one or more suede items in your home or closet.

You don't necessarily want to brush really hard when using your suede brush, but vary the pressure. Plus, don't work on a hard surface -- place a towel under the suede item so it isn't lying exactly flat while brushing.

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While brushing can help with lots of surface dirt and grime if the stain isn't just on the surface, but instead has been impregnated into the suede skin brushing alone won't deal with it.

Water Spots On Suede Shoes & Other Items

If you get splash marks on your suede shoes, for example, you can often remove the water spots that have dried on them just with brushing with a suede brush.

Put some tissue paper or newspaper into the shoe before you brush, just to help the shoe keep its shape while you work.

However, if brushing by itself does not help you can generally remove the spots by lightly misting the entire shoe with water to cover them evenly (notice I said misting, not drenching) and then brush them lightly. Then, let shoes or other suede items dry and then brush again, and the water spots should be gone.

What To Do When Leather Gets Wet

Things happen, and sometimes your leather items get wet, such as if you go out in the rain and your jacket gets drenched.

The key is to allow the item to air dry while maintaining its original shape. Otherwise, while it is wet if it is crumpled up, for example, it will dry that way and be hard to get back into its normal shape.

Therefore, just make sure everything is laid out properly, or hanging on a plastic hanger straight and neat, like it should be, and let it air dry.

Never use heat to dry leather.

Then, afterward the item will most likely be stiff, but with wear it should loosen back out.

Here's the video for full details.



Did you like the video as much as I did? I would love to hear from you with your own tips for cleaning and stain removal of leather and suede.

You can check out more suede cleaning tips here, or share your own.

In addition, you can share your leather stain removal tips here, or read others that have already been submitted.

Finally, if you want to learn even more of Martha's tips for stain removal check out these additional videos from Martha Stewart about stain removal.

Photo courtesy of CarbonNYC

Related Links On This Site

Stain Removal Tips & Tricks For Busy Moms

Car Upholstery Cleaning Tips

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Comments for Martha's Advice For Cleaning Suede & Leather

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need help and ideas
by: Carole Henares

Last night my poodle got up on the table and ate a stick of butter before I knew it he was ill and choose my red leather recliner to expel the contents. Not easy to clean up and very smelly. I don't know what to use to get the smell out of the chair. Any suggestions?

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Taylor

Hi, I'm Taylor, a busy mom with 3 kids, so I have lots of hands on experience with house cleaning, laundry and my fair share of spots, spills and other messy catastrophes. Thanks for visiting my site.

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CAUTION: This website is provided for informational purposes only. It is provided as is, without warranties or guarantees. Some stains and messes just won't come out, and are permanent. Further, some cleaning methods can harm your item, so if what you want to clean or launder is sentimental or expensive call a professional. See disclaimer of liability for more information.