Best Leather Cleaners

Updated November 2021
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Bottom Line

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.


Buying guide for best leather cleaners

Leather is a natural, durable product, outlasting cotton, nylon, or any other fabric. There are numerous examples of leather furniture built in the 1890s or earlier that is still in use today. Leather saddles, which take tremendous abuse and wear and tear during normal use, are still in good condition when they’re 80, 90, or 100 years old.

Of course, leather doesn’t last all that time on its own. Since it was a living product, it needs regular cleaning and conditioning to keep it in good shape. Conditioning keeps it from drying out and becoming brittle. The suppleness has to be maintained with oils that are specially formulated for that purpose.

Home remedy products such as olive oil, linseed oil, and flax oil touted on DIY sites have long since been superseded by modern conditioners. It’s the difference between cooking on a wood burning stove or cooking on a modern gas stove with all the bells and whistles. Both get the job done, but the modern version is better.

Keep reading as we run down which leather cleaner would work best for you.

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Like wine, leather is one of those things that gets better with age. As it is used and worn, it gradually develops a soft glow and sheen. The color may change, becoming richer and fuller. As long as you clean it on a regular basis, it will only improve with age.

Key considerations

What you’re cleaning

Normally, the size of the bottle may not be a consideration when you’re buying a cleaning product, but in this case, it is. If you have leather furniture, you may not be able to get a large bottle into the right position to spray hard-to-reach areas. In this case, you have to spray a cloth in order to transfer the cleaner to the leather. The problem is, some cleaners require that you spray them directly on the leather. If you’re cleaning leather shoes, boots, bags, purses, and so on, it won’t be a problem.

What object or furniture you’re cleaning determines what kind of cleaner you should get and also determines whether it should be sprayed directly on the leather or be sprayed on a cloth first.


Leather cleaners usually come premixed and ready to use, but some are in a concentrated form that you have to dilute with water, which is an extra step in the cleaning process. If you’re willing to do this, you can get more bang for your buck. If you just want to spray and go, then a concentrate probably isn’t for you.


How much surface area does a particular cleaner cover? Few of them answer that question exactly, but you can get a feel for it by reading the instructions. Cleaners which suggest using a paper towel normally don’t cover as much as those which recommend using a microfiber cloth.

The reason is simple: microfibers have millions of tiny pockets that absorb cleaners and conditioners and release them over a larger area than other fibers. Cleaners that recommend paper towels aren’t absorbed as readily as microfibers and therefore don’t cover as much territory.

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DIY sites often advise you to use olive oil as a conditioner on leather. Don’t do it. The oil can seep into the leather and react badly with it, giving it a noticeable odor.


Spray vs. gel

Leather cleaners come in two basic varieties: sprays and gels. Sprays are exactly what you might expect: a thin liquid that can be sprayed from a pump spray bottle. You can spray them directly on the leather fabric or spray the cloth to dampen it.

Gels can’t be sprayed; they must be squeezed onto a cloth and then transferred to the leather, or they can be squeezed onto fabric then rubbed in with a cloth. The main advantage to the second type is the ease of use on furniture that has tight areas where it would be difficult to maneuver a spray bottle into position to spray the leather.

Cleaner vs. conditioner

Some leather cleaners are just that — a cleaner. However, some combine a cleaning agent with a conditioner to keep the leather oiled, supple, and pliable. If you get one that is only a cleaner, purchase a conditioner separately. Otherwise, you will have very clean but very dry and cracked leather.

Cleaners that include a conditioner might sound like a better bargain, but combination products don’t always do the best job of cleaning or conditioning.

Finished or unfinished leather

Some leather cleaners cannot be used on unfinished leather products or things like suede and faux leather; others can be used on such fabrics. Make sure you know which fabrics you have on your furniture, car seats, coats, and shoes before you buy. The wrong product could cause serious problems with your fabric.

UV protection

Leather is susceptible to UV rays from the sun. It can dry out, crack, and break from prolonged exposure to the sun. To prevent that, you need to condition the leather after it’s cleaned. With a cleaner that also conditions, you don’t have to go over it twice — it’s a time-saver as well as a way to protect your leather goods from sun damage.

Leather cleaner prices

Inexpensive: Low-priced products below $10 come from top-of-the-line brand name manufacturers.

Mid-range: From $10 to $16, you will find products that may be cleaners only. You will also find combination products that include both cleaners and conditioners.

Expensive: Cleaners $16 and above include concentrated products. Some have a more complicated manufacturing process, which adds to the price. Price is not always the best indicator for the quality of leather cleaning products. For the most part, you shouldn’t have to pay more than $20.


  • Thoroughly dust your leather products before using a cleaner or conditioner on them. A vacuum cleaner is an excellent method of getting all the dust out of the tiny pores in the leather.

  • The first time you use a new cleaner or conditioner on your leather goods, apply a tiny amount on an inconspicuous part of the fabric. Apply it as per the instructions, and observe the area for a couple of days to see if there is any staining or discoloration. Once you know it’s safe for your type of leather, you can use it on the whole item.

  • No two pieces of leather are identical. Make sure you test your cleaners and conditioners independently on each leather product before cleaning or conditioning a whole item.

  • After each application of a cleaner or conditioner, buff the leather with a dry cloth. Don’t leave any excess moisture on the leather.

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Cleaners and conditioners can remove scuff marks if they’re applied soon after the leather is scuffed. If the scuff mark goes untreated for too long, the area will change colors beyond the ability of the cleaner or conditioners to do anything about it.


Q. How often should leather be cleaned?

A. Most leather should be cleaned and conditioned at least three times a year. Leather items that are frequently exposed to sun for extended periods, such as car seats, should be cleaned and conditioned at least once a month to prevent drying and cracking. Leather that is exposed to cold, dry weather should be cleaned and conditioned frequently as well.

Q. What should I do about stains that won’t come out?

A. Stains that won’t come out indicate the unwanted liquid has penetrated the pores of the leather and spread laterally throughout the material. If that happens you need to get your leather item professionally cleaned.

Q. Can I get professional leather cleaning products and do it myself?

A. No. Those products are often regulated and restricted to licensed professionals. If over-the-counter cleaners and conditioners don’t remove a stain, you may have to pay quite a bit for someone else to do it.

Q. How often should dark or light leather be cleaned?

A. Leather that is light in color has to be cleaned more frequently than dark leather. You should clean dark leather three or four times a year and clean light leather once a month.

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