Leather is one of the most durable fabrics around, so it’s often found in both car interiors and home furnishings. Leather needs care, though, to last and look good. This means it needs to be cleaned regularly; otherwise, it becomes dirty and brittle.
Most of today’s leather cleaners, including those designed specifically for soft leather, remove grime and sweat that can age your leather upholstery. The best leather cleaner for your home or automobile’s upholstery depends on the type of leather you need to maintain. Ahead, learn what to look for when buying a leather-cleaning product, and find out why the following products were chosen as some of the best leather cleaners and conditioners around.
- BEST OVERALL: Leather Honey Leather Cleaner
- RUNNER-UP: Bickmore Bick 4 Leather Conditioner
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Armor All Leather Care With Beeswax
- UPGRADE PICK: Lexol Leather Conditioner and Cleaner Kit
- BEST ALL-PURPOSE: Chemical Guys Leather Cleaner & Conditioner Kit
- BEST FOR CARS: Tyger 2-in-1 Spray Specialized for Leather/Vinyl
- BEST LEATHER WIPES: Armor All Leather Care Wipes With Beeswax
Before You Buy a Leather Cleaner
Leather cleaners are viable options for removing grime and residue from apparel, furniture, and car interiors. But some options may be better than others depending on an individual user’s preferences. For example, some leather cleaners on the market are made with harsh chemicals or come in application types that may not be ideal for certain items.
When selecting the ideal leather cleaner, be sure to always consider the ingredients used in the formula and steer clear of harsh, strong-smelling chemicals. Plus, ensure that your leather product is compatible with the type of leather cleaner you are using, whether it is a spray, wipe, or cleaning liquid.
How We Chose the Best Leather Cleaners
We researched the most sought-after leather cleaners in their respective categories and discovered that the best options are determined by their effectiveness, ease of use, ingredients, compatibility with leather and other materials, and other special features included by top brands.
After extensive product research, we included options in our list of top picks that effectively clean and condition leather with easy-to-use spray, liquid, and wipe application varieties to suit the preferences of different users. We also chose options that were made with low-chemical or natural ingredients, making them suitable for homes with children and pets.
Not only are some of these cleaners able to clean both real hide and synthetic leather, they can also be used on vinyl, plastic, and rubber for excellent versatility. Finally, to ensure this list of top picks had the very best to offer, we included options that come as a complete kit, those that have applicator brushes, or those with protective agents integrated for protecting leather from UV exposure, fading, and wear and tear.
Our Top Picks
Check out the following recommended cleaners that are easy to use and explicitly formulated to protect your valuable leather upholstery. The cleaners listed below, with one exception, are exclusively for smooth leather. Consider these cleaners to keep your leather looking its best.
For quick touch-ups and spot cleaning, look no further than the Leather Honey leather cleaner. This gentle, nontoxic formula is made for leather, vinyl, plastic, rubber, and faux leather, which means it’s suitable for apparel, car interiors, furniture, and more. Though it looks small, this 8-ounce bottle makes over 32 ounces of cleaner when diluted in a spray bottle, but it can be applied without dilution if preferred.
This liquid cleaner is capable of removing dirt and grime with its deep-cleaning capabilities and leaves behind a polished look with no residue. Simply wipe the leather cleaner onto the surface, then buff for a clean finish.
- Type: Cleaner
- Size: 8 ounces
- EPA Safer Choice certified: Yes
- Gentle and nontoxic formula is ideal for eco-conscious households
- Suitable for apparel, car interiors, furniture, and more; works on a variety of materials
- Can be used right out of the bottle or diluted
- Easy to use; simply apply and then buff to finish
- Not recommended for cleaning suede
Get the Leather Honey leather cleaner at Amazon.
If you want the shine of clean leather but hesitate to use any product on your fine leather shoes, boots, handbags, equestrian saddles, motorcycle seats, car interior, and exotic leathers, consider Bickmore Bick 4 leather conditioner, which also cleans. Bickmore, which has been around since 1882, made this formula easy to apply. All that’s required is to use a soft cloth to gently rub the product on the surface, let it dry, and then use another soft cloth to remove it. Finally, buff the leather.
This product, which is excellent as a leather couch cleaner, leaves no trace of sticky, gummy residue. All that’s left is a replenished leather that feels soft and supple with a new-look shine. Although this combination cleaner/conditioner works on most leathers, do not use it on suede, roughout, distressed, or napped leathers. Also, don’t use it on synthetic leathers. The product also gives some water resistance to leather.
- Type: Cleaner and conditioner
- Size: 16 ounces
- EPA Safer Choice certified: No
- Reliable brand that has been around since 1882
- Versatile and can be used on many types of leather materials
- Easy to apply with a soft cloth; leaves behind no residue after use and polishes and cleans leather for a new-look shine
- Provides a water-resistant coating
- Should not be used on suede, roughout, distressed, napped, or synthetic leathers
Get the Bickmore leather cleaner and conditioner at Amazon or Walmart (8 ounces).
You don’t need to spend a fortune to clean and protect your leather car interior and furniture. Armor All Leather Care includes real beeswax that nourishes your leather as it cleans it. The spray also helps slow or prevent aging of leather. Plus, you’ll find this cleaner is easy to use. Just spray it on the surface and wipe it with a soft, clean cloth.
Although this spray dissolves dirt and grime, it won’t leave any greasy residue. The spray protects your expensive leather from drying, aging, and cracking. Plus, it leaves behind a clean, fresh scent. You can also use this affordable spray on smooth leather furniture inside your home. Don’t use it on buckskin or suede, though.
- Type: Spray/conditioner and cleaner
- Size: 16 ounces
- EPA Safer Choice certified: No
- Beeswax-integrated formula cleans and nourishes leather for a new-look polish
- Slows and prevents the aging of leather in the car or at home
- Easy to use; simply spray and wipe away with a cloth
- Dissolves dirt and grime; leaves no residue and leaves behind a clean scent after use
- Should not be used on buckskin or suede, which may not be ideal for some users
Get the Armor All leather cleaner at Amazon, Walmart, or Target.
Give your smooth leather an ultimate cleaning and conditioning when you use the two-step Lexol leather conditioner and leather cleaner kit. The company’s leather-cleaning products debuted in 1933. When you use this leather kit, begin with the deep cleaner. Apply it to one of the two applicator sponges and wipe dirt and oils away. You can stop there or continue with the leather deep conditioner.
Apply this the same way as the cleaner. Leather car interiors and furniture absorb the fine oil droplets in the leather conditioner, which nourishes and restores the leather. It’s safe to use this product on leather briefcases, shoes, jackets, and baseball and softball gloves. When the conditioner is used every 6 months, it can protect leather from drying and cracking without leaving a residue, thereby extending its life.
- Type: Liquid conditioner and cleaner
- Size: 16.9 ounces (per bottle)
- EPA Safer Choice certified: No
- Comes with a deep cleaner as well as a deep conditioner; 2 convenient application sponges included
- Cleans, restores, and protects leather against cracking; made with nourishing oil droplets
- Easy-to-use cap dispenses the perfect amount of cleaner
- May not work effectively on some leather varieties
Get the Lexol leather cleaner and conditioner kit at Amazon.
Use the Chemical Guys leather cleaner and conditioner leather care kit on all leather types, including boots, sneakers, shoes, sofas, and jackets. The pH-balanced cleaner penetrates the leather’s pores to lift ground-in dirt and oil without leaving a greasy residue.
Don’t let the name fool you: This cleaner won’t trigger adverse reactions in those that can’t tolerate various smells because the formula is odorless and colorless. The conditioner, which contains nourishing vitamin E, has a subtle leather scent that dissipates quickly and leaves your leather well nourished and protected from UV damage. The process is quick; just spray either product onto your leather goods and wipe them with a soft cloth.
- Type: Spray cleaner and conditioner
- Size: 16 ounces (per bottle)
- EPA Safer Choice certified: No
- Deep cleans into the pores of leather to remove grime and filth
- Contains nourishing vitamin E; restores leather’s sleek and silky look and the feel of natural and synthetic leather
- Protects against UV damage for increased longevity
- No application brush included with this kit; may need to buy a separate brush for effective use
- May leave some residue behind after use
Get the Chemical Guys leather cleaner kit at Amazon.
If you want an excellent leather cleaner that also offers additional UV protection, consider Tyger 2-in-1 spray. It comes with added ultraviolet protection that helps the leather in the car resist drying and fading from harsh sunrays, which is a significant culprit in cracked leather seats and dashboards. This 2-in-1 cleaner and protectant comes in a 22-ounce bottle; it’s easy to use and safe for both leather and vinyl. Simply spray it on leather seats, dashboards, door panels, and any other smooth leather or vinyl surfaces, then wipe it down with a clean, soft cloth. Tyger removes traces of sweat and grime and leaves the leather with a supple, nonglossy look. It is also safe and works well on leather or vinyl truck-bed covers and convertible tops.
- Type: Spray
- Size: 22 ounces
- EPA Safer Choice certified: No
- Cleans leather and vinyl and protects against fading and UV exposure
- Easy to use; simply spray and then wipe with a soft cloth
- Removes sweat, grime, dirt, and dust and leaves behind a glossy look
- Can also be used on car interiors and convertible tops
- Formulated only for use on leather and vinyl; may cause damage to other materials
Get the Tyger 2-in-1 leather cleaner at Amazon.
It’s frustrating to spot a food or ink stain on your leather car interior or household furniture when you’re on the go or pressed for time, but Armor All Leather Care wipes shine for these quick uses. Just remove a wipe from the package and swipe it across the stain to clean, condition, and protect your leather. The wipes safely remove oil, dirt, and grime, leaving your leather looking and feeling like new. They also contain powerful blocking agents that protect leather against future stains, cracking, and fading.
Wiping the dashboard with it is a great idea, especially in areas where the weather is often toasty. One word of caution: Don’t leave these in the car indefinitely. The plastic cylinder is hardy, but the baking sun will dry out the wipes.
- Type:Leather wipes
- Size: 30 wipes
- EPA Safer Choice certified: No
- Beeswax integrated into the cleaning solution for added shine and protection
- Removes oil, dirt, and grime from natural and synthetic leather upholstery
- Container is easy to transport if required, and the product can be used on the go if necessary
- Should not be left in the car indefinitely or the wipes may dry out
Get the Armor All leather cleaner wipes at Amazon.
Or, DIY Your Own Leather Cleaner
Buying leather cleaner is a viable option for car interiors, furniture, apparel, and more. However, there are some things that can be found around the house that can deep clean and even condition leather for those who prefer a DIY approach. Here is our recipe for the best DIY leather cleaner:
- Gather a vacuum with a brush attachment, vinegar, clean cotton or microfiber cloths, and a small bucket or spray bottle.
- Vacuum the furniture or car interior thoroughly to remove any hair, dirt, loose debris, and crumbs.
- Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle or bucket, then apply a damp layer to the entire leather surface and wipe with a damp cloth.
- Wipe or buff any remaining cleaner off the surface. Reapply as necessary.
There are a number of other recipes for DIY leather conditioners that can also be made with household items.
When assembling our list of top picks, we evaluated the ingredients and effectiveness of many cleaners to ensure they were safe and reliable for both real and synthetic leather varieties. However, while conducting our research we also came across some products that did not meet our sustainability guidelines, and for that reason they are not included in our top picks. For example, the Weiman Leather Cleaner & Conditioner’s primary ingredient is D-Limonene, which according to the National Library of Medicine is “flammable, an irritant, a health hazard, and an environmental hazard.”
What to Consider When Choosing a Leather Cleaner
Owners of leather furniture and those who have cars with leather upholstery can find a wide assortment of leather-cleaning products available in stores and online. All should remove dirt, dust, and stains, but some are safer than others, depending on their ingredients. Many leather-cleaning products contain additional conditioning ingredients or might sell in a two-part set with individual bottles of both a cleaner and a conditioner.
Types of Leather
All real leather comes from animal skins, but variations in how it’s cleaned, treated, and processed give it different characteristics that call for different types of cleaners. To remove stains safely, the cleaner must be suited to the specific leather type. Fortunately, you won’t have to do a lot of research because the cleaner should list the leather types it will safely clean. You will, however, need to know the kind of leather you’re cleaning.
Pigment or Protected
Pigmented or protected leather, also called “painted” or “finished” leather, features a dye or pigment that’s been applied to the surface to create a uniform look and sheen. Strong chemical cleaners may fade or strip away some of the color and finish, so look for a mild leather cleaner that specifies that it can be used on pigmented, protected, painted, or finished leather. This type of leather should also be treated with a conditioner once or twice a year to protect it from staining.
Aniline leather is unprotected and at even more risk of staining than pigmented leather. Aniline leather often features a transparent dye and a layer of clear wax that lets the fabric’s texture show through. The best leather cleaner for aniline leather is mild and may contain a wax finish that helps protect the material from future stains. Spot cleaning may be the best way to remove stains from aniline leather, which tends to darken as you apply the cleaner, but the darkness should fade as the leather dries out.
This type of leather is often confused for suede because the surface is brushed to achieve a velvety texture. Nubuck is soft and absorbent, making it tricky to remove stains once they soak in. Cleaners suitable for use on nubuck are very mild and are often sponged onto just the stained spot and then allowed to air dry. Since this type of leather is more porous than other types, regularly applying a protective conditioner designed for nubuck will help it repel stains.
A neutral pH level of 7 is the safest for a leather cleaner, but the cleaner might not list its pH level. If you don’t know what type of leather you’re cleaning, the safest route is to make sure the cleaner doesn’t contain alcohol, which is drying to some types of leather. As a general rule, mild natural ingredients that impart a layer of protection, such as beeswax, are the safest to use on most leather types.
Ease of Use
Leather cleaners are relatively simple to use—many call for spraying or wiping the product on and then either letting it air dry or buffing it off with a soft, clean cloth. The main thing to remember here is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If it’s the first time you’ve used a specific cleaner, do a spot test first in an inconspicuous area to ensure the product will not discolor or otherwise damage the leather.
Since the ingredients in some leather cleaners can be drying if used often, some manufacturers combine conditioning agents with the cleaner to help smooth and protect the leather and remove dirt and stains. These cleaner/conditioner combo products are safe for many types of leather, and they’re quick to apply, saving you time on cleaning and conditioning. However, for high-end leather, it might be better to use a cleaner specific to the type of leather and then apply a separate conditioner afterward.
When cared for properly, leather furniture and interior car upholstery will offer many years of service. If you’re looking to keep your leather items in top shape, you likely have some questions.
Q. Can you clean leather with water?
Smooth, sealed leather, such as top-grain leather, can be cleaned by wiping it down with a cloth barely dampened with water, but avoid spraying or saturating the leather with water as it may leave water stains as it dries.
Q. How do you clean old leather?
Vintage leather can be cleaned and conditioned to restore its original luster if it’s still in good shape (no cracking or peeling). Brush off dust and dirt with a soft brush, and then apply a cleaner approved for the leather type, followed by a conditioner.
Q. How often do you need to clean leather?
Leather furniture and car upholstery should be cleaned and conditioned three or four times a year. If the leather is subject to direct sunlight, such as an automobile dashboard, it will benefit from monthly cleaning and conditioning to keep it in top shape.
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