How to Clean Suede, Leather and Upholstery

Suede, leather and upholstery are beautiful and durable fabrics, but even the most durable materials need to be cleaned over time. Here are some tips and tricks for cleaning each fabric.

December 30, 2019
How to Clean Upholstery: Wipe Away Dirt

How to Clean Upholstery: Wipe Away Dirt

Use a damp, clean cloth to wipe away any remaining suds or dirt. You can leave your upholstery to dry or use a wet/dry vacuum to remove the remaining moisture.

Photo by: Jalynn Baker

Jalynn Baker

Suede, Leather and Upholstery 03:32

Follow these easy tips to clean and protect suede, leather and upholstery.

Materials Needed

  • suede bristle brush
  • suede rubber crepe brush
  • suede eraser
  • suede protector
  • cornstarch
  • vinegar
  • clean microfiber cloth
  • natural baby soap
  • bowl
  • stain remover
  • scrub brush
  • wet/dry vacuum
  • laundry detergent

How to Clean Suede

How to Clean Suede

How to Clean Suede

If your suede shoes are looking a little worse for wear, you can restore them using a suede brush (for dirt and light stains), a suede eraser (for tougher stains) and a rubber crepe brush (for restoring the nap).

Photo by: Jalynn Baker

Jalynn Baker

Remove Dirt With a Suede Brush

Suede is a natural material that can generally be cleaned without the use of any liquids. Because the fibers are so close together, you can simply brush dirt away in most cases with a suede brush (Image 1). Suede brushes have both stiff metal bristles and soft nylon bristles and are specifically designed to clean suede. The technique is simple: For small spots, brush the fibers in one direction until the spot is removed. Harder-to-remove stains will require more pressure or brushing in more than one direction. Once you’ve removed the stain with the suede brush, you can restore the nap by using a rubber crepe brush in one direction (Image 2). The rubber will lift the fibers of the suede and restore it to its original look.

Tackle Tough Stains With a Suede Eraser

A suede eraser is an inexpensive product that works for tougher stains that your suede brush can’t knock out. Use a suede eraser like you would a pencil eraser, rubbing the spot until the stain begins to lift. Once you’re satisfied, use your suede bristle brush to brush away any bits of eraser left behind. Finally, use the rubber crepe brush to restore the look of your suede, brushing in one direction until it looks like new.

How to Clean Suede: Tackle Tough Stains With a Suede Eraser

How to Clean Suede: Tackle Tough Stains With a Suede Eraser

A suede eraser is an inexpensive product that works for tougher stains that your suede brush can’t knock out. Simply use a suede eraser like you would a pencil eraser, rubbing the spot until the stain begins to lift. Once you’re satisfied, use your suede bristle brush to brush away any of the bits of eraser left behind. Finally, use a rubber crepe brush to restore the look of your suede, brushing in one direction until it looks like new.

Photo by: Jalynn Baker

Jalynn Baker

Clean Oil Stains With Cornstarch

If you have a fresh oil stain on your suede, you can soak up the oil using household cornstarch. Sprinkle cornstarch on the oil spot and leave it for a few hours (Image 1). Remove the oily powder without rubbing it into the fabric, either by knocking the dust off or using a vacuum (Image 2). If the first pass doesn’t remove all the oil, repeat the process with a second application of powder. Once the oil is gone, use your crepe brush to return the suede to its original look.

Protect the Suede

Once your suede is clean, it’s a good idea to spray it down with a suede protector. There are many safe products to choose from. Follow the instructions for applying your suede protector and wait until the item is dry before you use it again.

How to Clean Suede: Spray With Suede Protector

How to Clean Suede: Spray With Suede Protector

Once your suede is clean, it’s a good idea to spray it down with a suede protector. There are many safe products to choose from. Follow the instructions for applying your suede protector and wait until the item is dry before you use it again.

Photo by: Jalynn Baker

Jalynn Baker

How to Clean Leather

How to Clean Leather

How to Clean Leather

You can clean your leather furniture using a simple cleaning solution of 50/50 vinegar and water. Use a microfiber cloth to apply the solution, rubbing the leather in a circular motion to lift the dirt out of the natural fibers.

Photo by: Jalynn Baker

Jalynn Baker

Mix a Simple Cleaning Solution

Leather furniture can be cleaned using simple household products. Mix a 50/50 vinegar and water solution in a bowl (Image 1) and use a microfiber cloth to apply it to your furniture (Image 2). Rub the leather in a circular motion to lift the dirt out of the natural fibers. Return your cloth to the bowl often, wringing it out and rewetting it. You’ll notice as the dirt is lifted from the leather and left in the bowl. If needed, replace your cleaning solution as it becomes too dirty. Don’t fully soak your leather; simply use the damp cloth to loosen the dirt and remove it. Tip: Before cleaning the entire item, test the solution in an inconspicuous area to make sure it doesn’t damage or discolor your leather.

Apply Conditioner

Leather, like your own skin, needs to be protected and moisturized over time. You can create a simple and inexpensive leather conditioner using natural baby soap, vinegar and water. Mix two cups of warm water, a tablespoon of natural baby soap and a splash of vinegar in a bowl (Image 1). Use a microfiber cloth to rub the conditioning mixture into the leather, making sure not to soak the area (Image 2). Moisten the leather and leave the conditioner on the furniture. The baby soap contains gentle oils that will help to both clean and condition your leather.

How to Clean Upholstery

How to Clean Upholstery

How to Clean Upholstery

If you can't throw it in the wash, you can clean your upholstery with a mixture of four parts warm water with one part laundry detergent. Use a rough sponge or a soft bristle brush to apply the cleaning mixture to your upholstery, then wipe away any remaining suds or dirt with a damp, clean cloth.

Photo by: Jalynn Baker

Jalynn Baker

Throw It in the Wash

If you have slipcovers on your couch or loveseat, cleaning them is as easy as starting a load of laundry. Unzip your slipcovers and inspect them for any tough stains. Spray a stain remover on any areas that might need an extra boost. Toss your slipcovers into the washing machine and wash them on a standard warm cycle. Hang them up to dry, and they’ll be ready to put back on the couch in no time.

Use a Cleaning Solution and Scrub Brush

Items you can't throw into the wash can easily be cleaned in place using a few simple ingredients. A spray-on stain remover can be used for any tough spots, just like in washing laundry. Spray your stain remover and wait for about five minutes (Image 1). While you wait, mix four parts warm water with one part laundry detergent (Image 2). Use a rough sponge or a soft bristle brush to apply the cleaning mixture to your upholstery (Image 3). Scrub along the grain of the fabric until you have lifted the dirt and stains. Use a damp, clean cloth to wipe away any remaining suds or dirt (Image 4). You can leave your upholstery to dry or use a wet/dry vacuum to remove the remaining moisture.

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