How to Clean Patent Leather

Patent leather is a beautiful and eye-catching material for shoes, handbags, and furniture, but it very easily shows scuff marks, stains, and other signs of wear. Cleaning leather materials is a daunting task, especially if you’ve never done it before. You can maintain the brand-new look of your patent leather items by cleaning the material on a regular basis using gentle and non-damaging methods.


[Edit]Cleaning Patent Leather Shoes

  1. Use a soft bristle brush to remove loose dirt and debris. Swipe the brush over the material gently in small, circular motions. A soft toothbrush can be used to get into harder to reach areas.[1]
    Clean Patent Leather Step 1.jpg
  2. Buff out marks with an eraser. For scuff marks, an eraser can help to rub away the transferred color on the shiny leather. Gently rub the eraser against the scuff, clearing away any eraser shavings by using the bristle brush as you work.[2]
    Clean Patent Leather Step 2.jpg
  3. Remove tough stains using rubbing alcohol or vaseline. Apply a small amount of the rubbing alcohol or vaseline to a q-tip or paper towel. Rub the mark using a little bit of force, being careful not to push too hard. After 15-20 seconds, wipe the area dry with a cloth.[3]
    Clean Patent Leather Step 3.jpg
    • If the stain is particularly stubborn, you might have to repeat this process a few times.
  4. Wipe the outside of the shoe using a damp cloth and mild soap. Make sure the cloth is only damp by ringing it out. You should use 1 small drop of non-detergent liquid soap on the damp cloth. Wipe in small circular motions on all surfaces of the shoe that are patent leather.[4]
    Clean Patent Leather Step 4.jpg
    • While patent leather shoes are coated with a clear gloss, they aren’t actually waterproof. It’s best to use as little water as possible to clean and never wear them for long periods of time in wet conditions.
  5. Buff the shoes with a soft polishing cloth. Again, wipe in small circular motions to remove any excess water. To make sure that the shoes dry thoroughly after cleaning, set them out for at least 24 hours at room temperature.[5]
    Clean Patent Leather Step 5.jpg
  6. Apply olive/mineral oil or vaseline if your shoes are sticky. Add a small amount of the oil or vaseline to a cloth and wipe onto the leather in small, circular motions. Let it sit on the shoes for 20-40 minutes and then wipe clean with a dry cloth.[6]
    Clean Patent Leather Step 6.jpg
    • If the shoes are still sticky, allow them to sit overnight to see if the stickiness dries. If not, it may be the case that the glue on your shoes has degraded due to humidity and ruined the leather.[7]
  7. Store patent leather items in a safe and dry location. After cleaning, make sure you’re keeping your shoes in a location that is safe for long-term storage. A good storage space is dry, room-temperature, and clean.[8]
    Clean Patent Leather Step 7.jpg
    • It’s a good idea to keep them stored with their shoe trees so that they retain their form.[9]

[Edit]Cleaning Patent Leather Furniture

  1. Vacuum the entire surface area of the furniture piece.[10] Dirt and dust can collect in the nooks and crannies of sofas and their cushions. Use the brush extension of the vacuum to lift dirt and reach difficult areas.[11]
    Clean Patent Leather Step 8.jpg
  2. Add a few drops of non-detergent liquid soap to distilled water.[12] This will make a cleaning solution that won’t damage the coated leather. It’s important to use a non-detergent soap so the coating on the furniture is not dulled by harmful chemicals.[13]
    Clean Patent Leather Step 9.jpg
  3. Dampen a microfiber cloth in the cleaning solution. Dip one small part of the cloth into the solution at first. Make sure the cloth is just damp, not saturated. You might need to ring it out a little bit before using it.[14]
    Clean Patent Leather Step 10 Version 3.jpg
  4. Wipe an inconspicuous spot on the furniture with the solution. Make sure it’s not an area that you can see normally on the piece of furniture. This will be your test spot to ensure that there’s no marking or staining from your cleaning solution.[15] Wait for it to dry or gently wipe it dry after a few moments.[16]
    Clean Patent Leather Step 11 Version 3.jpg
  5. Wipe the couch from top to bottom using your cleaning solution. If there’s no discoloration on the test patch, continue wiping the couch.[17] Work from top to bottom, using large circular motions and re-moistening the cloth as needed.[18]
    Clean Patent Leather Step 12 Version 3.jpg
  6. Wipe the couch with just distilled water. After applying the cleaning solution, go back over the couch with a cloth dipped in only water. Work from top to bottom again, using large circular motions. This will help remove any residue from the soap.[19]
    Clean Patent Leather Step 13 Version 3.jpg
  7. Dry your patent leather furniture piece. Use a soft, microfiber towel to dry the furniture. Your couch should never be soaking wet, as saturation will cause irreversible damage to the material.[20]
    Clean Patent Leather Step 14 Version 3.jpg
    • Never use a hair dryer or fan to dry the leather. Although they might be quicker, they can cause dehydration of the leather.[21]
  8. Condition the leather to ensure it retains its softness. To replace natural oils that leather loses when it is cleaned, apply a leather cream using a clean cloth. Let the cream dry completely and buff to shine if needed.[22]
    Clean Patent Leather Step 15 Version 3.jpg
    • Avoid using DIY cleaning or conditioning solutions that include vinegar, as it can strip the glossy coating from the patent leather.
  9. Use a small amount of vaseline or rubbing alcohol for tough stains. Apply the vaseline or rubbing alcohol to a q-tip or paper towel and gently it rub into the stained area. Wipe the area dry after 15-20 seconds, and reapply if necessary until the stain disappears.[23]
    Clean Patent Leather Step 16 Version 3.jpg
    • After the stain is gone, wipe down the area with a damp cloth and dry it completely.

[Edit]Removing Stains from Patent Leather Purses

  1. Buff out large scuff marks with an eraser. For large marks, an eraser can provide friction to remove the transferred color from the leather. Gently rub the eraser against the scuff, clearing any eraser shavings as you work.[24]
    Clean Patent Leather Step 17 Version 3.jpg
  2. Spray glass cleaner on a paper towel and wipe the bag thoroughly. Wipe the paper towel in circular motions to pick up dust and polish the surface of the bag. This should remove most dust and dirt.[25]
    Clean Patent Leather Step 18 Version 3.jpg
  3. Apply vaseline or rubbing alcohol to tough scuffs. Using a paper towel or a q-tip, apply a small amount of vaseline or rubbing alcohol to the mark. Try the vaseline first, as rubbing alcohol is a paint stripper and should be used sparingly. Wipe the area off with a dry cloth after a few moments.[26]
    Clean Patent Leather Step 19 Version 3.jpg
    • If the mark is particularly stubborn, you can apply a bit of pressure as you rub the q-tip or paper towel into the mark.
  4. Wipe the bag using a mixture of mild soap and distilled water. Dampen a soft cloth and add 1 small drop of non-detergent cleaner to the surface of the cloth. Apply the gentle cleaning solution all over the bag in circular motions.[27]
    Clean Patent Leather Step 20 Version 3.jpg
  5. Use a dry cloth to wipe the bag dry. Make sure the entire bag is dry, including any spots that have handles, rivets, or crevices. You might want to allow it to dry overnight before placing it in a dust cover for storage.[28]
    Clean Patent Leather Step 21 Version 3.jpg
  6. Store your bag in a safe and dry location. After cleaning, make sure you place the bag, in its dust cover, in a location that is safe for long-term storage. If you don’t have a dust cover, you can order one online base on the size of your bag. Your storage space for your bag should be room-temperature and low-humidity.[29]
    Clean Patent Leather Step 22 Version 3.jpg



  • There are some products on the market meant to care for patent leather. Those may suit you better as they have components that will polish, seal, and protect the leather as well as clean it.
  • Patience is key when removing stains or marks from leather. Be gentle and take more time, rather than hurrying through the task of cleaning for best results.
  • Spot treat somewhere inconspicuous on the patent leather before applying the treatment over the entire surface of the material.


  • Make sure you are gentle and take your time when rubbing any solution onto the leather. Too much friction can cause the leather to become dull or worn looking.
  • Do not use a colored cloth, as colored clothes that have not been washed thoroughly or properly can bleed dye, and even some that have been washed properly can bleed dye when used with vinegar, hairspray, or alcohol.
  • Do not use vinegar, hairspray, or non-surgical alcohol, as it can stain or damage leather easily. Only use rubbing alcohol (also known as surgical scrub) very sparingly in a general dilution, like those you get at a grocery store.

[Edit]Things You’ll Need

[Edit]Cleaning Patent Leather Shoes

  • Soft bristle brush
  • Eraser
  • Cloth
  • Non-detergent liquid soap
  • Polishing cloth (microfiber)
  • Olive oil, mineral oil, or vaseline,

[Edit]Cleaning Patent Leather Furniture

  • A vacuum with brush attachment
  • 2 microfiber cloths
  • Non-detergent liquid soap
  • Distilled water
  • Leather conditioner/cream
  • Vaseline or rubbing alcohol
  • Q-tips or paper towels

[Edit]Removing Stains from Patent Leather Purses

  • Eraser
  • Liquid glass cleaner
  • Paper towels
  • Q-tips
  • Alcohol or vaseline
  • Non-detergent liquid soap
  • Distilled water
  • 2 microfiber cloths
  • Dust cover


[Edit]Quick Summary

  10. [v161131_b01]. 8 November 2020.
  12. [v161131_b01]. 8 November 2020.
  15. [v161131_b01]. 8 November 2020.
  17. [v161131_b01]. 8 November 2020.