Vegan, or faux, leather items are becoming increasingly popular these days. From bags to shoes, it’s like every leather product already has a vegan version. And for good reason! It’s one of the best cruelty-free alternatives out there.
The thing, however, is that vegan leather requires a slightly different care routine than authentic leather. Learning how to clean vegan leather is vital to avoid staining, fading, and deterioration.
But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.
In this post, I’m detailing the methods of cleaning, conditioning, and storing vegan leather items. Whether you choose vegan items for fashion or love of animals, you’ll be glad to know these products are easy to clean using the steps below.
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Overview of Vegan Leather
Vegan leather is a synthetic alternative to real leather derived from eco-friendly materials and agricultural waste products. It feels and looks like genuine leather but uses plant-based fabric rather than animal skin.
Aside from biomaterials, other types of fake leather also use polymers like polyurethane, PVC, and other recyclable materials for construction.
Cleaning Vegan Leather vs. Traditional Leather
While synthetic leather products often boast qualities similar to authentic leather, there’s still a fundamental structure difference between the two.
Firstly, vegan leathers are less flexible compared to genuine animal products. Because of their rigidness, you’ll need to condition them more frequently.
Secondly, synthetic leathers don’t absorb moisture as well as authentic leather products. As such, vegan leather items are more prone to drying out and cracking.
Lastly, vegan leather products are usually thinner. So, they’re typically less durable against wear and tear, which demands extra care when cleaning.
How to Clean Vegan Leather Items
In most cases, cleaning your prized artificial leather can be done with materials you already have in your home. Using mild soap and warm water can go a long way in removing common stains.
Still, stubborn stains can be difficult to remove with simple cleaning solutions. And you’ll also want to clean your faux leather garments and items without risking damage.
Luckily, there are several ways to wash vegan leather safely. Follow the steps below to clean your faux leather clothes and items.
Step 1: Preparing Cleaning Materials
Cleaning can require several tools depending on your vegan leather item. Here are some cleaning materials you may need to clean your faux products:
- Soft cloth
- Warm water
- Large sink
- Gentle detergent or dish soap
- Baking soda
- Isopropyl alcohol
As a quick note: Hand Washing or machine washing works with most leather jackets, leggings, and skirts. So, you can opt to use your washing machine instead of your sink.
Step 2: Mixing Cleaning Solution
Fill your sink with lukewarm water. Mix a few drops of mild detergent or dish soap in the water, then use your hands to swish and distribute the soapy water solution evenly.
Remember: never use hot water when washing vegan leather items. Synthetic materials like these aren’t as durable as genuine leather, so using hot water can result in damage.
Step 3: Readying the Leather Material
Like most clothing, vegan leather garments are typically dirtier on the inside. As such, you’ll need to turn your clothes inside out when washing.
Do this step whether you’re hand washing or machine washing. This method ensures your cleaning solution reaches every part of the clothes.
Here are some tips:
Faux leather usually absorbs odors from cigarette smoke or sweat. To eliminate tough odors, sprinkle baking soda on your leather clothing and seal it for 24 hours before washing.
Step 4: Washing the Leather Garment
Only use gentle agitations when washing delicate vegan leather to avoid damage. If handwashing, carefully agitate the garment, then allow it to soak for a few minutes before rinsing.
For washing machines, select the delicate cycle setting for lower agitation speed. Lower speed will prevent ripping and stretching in fragile clothing like leather.
After washing, rinse your items with cold water to remove the soapy water and remaining grime. Avoid wringing or using fabric softeners when rinsing imitation leather.
Step 5: Drying and Conditioning Vegan Leather
Let your faux leather clothing dry inside out on a hanger for 24 hours – make sure it’s not left in direct sunlight. Wipe your leather garments with a soft, dry cloth to get rid of any excess water and reduce drying time.
Cracking in leather materials usually happens after during this time, so to prevent this hitch, condition the leather’s surface with coconut, baby, or olive oil.
Best Vegan Leather Cleaner Products in 2023
Aside from at-home cleaning tools, you can also use cleaner products to maintain faux items. Here are some of the best vegan leather cleaning brands to check out:
Chemical Guys is a trusted brand when it comes to leather maintenance. And they offer everything you’ll need to clean your leather apparel with the HOL303 cleaning package.
The HOL303 kit comes with Chemical Guys’ best-selling leather cleaner solution, conditioner, brush, and towels at an affordable price of $59.99.
Cadillac’s Select Leather Lotion is another top-notch pick for cleaning your vegan leather shoes, wallet, or jacket. With decades of experience in leather care, you can expect Cadillac’s solution to clean and maintain your prized leather goods.
One benefit of using Cadillac Select is it’s free from wax, which would otherwise result in hardened leather surfaces. It enhances the look and feel of your faux apparel while preventing surface damage.
Lexol is a three-in-one leather care companion for cleaning, conditioning, and maintaining vegan leather.
It offers one of the most affordable ways to keep your faux leather furniture and apparel in pristine condition. The fast-acting formula of Lexol can also restore and rejuvenate old and worn-out leather furniture exteriors.
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How To Clean Vegan Leather: The Final Word
Caring for faux leather pieces can be tricky without the proper care, knowledge and tools. However, following my guide and top tips should make cleaning your faux items faster, easier, and safer.
Still, maintaining vegan leather goods mainly hinges on proper handling and care. Keeping your prized leather furniture, shoes, bags, or clothes away from damaging conditions is always the best way to go.