Can You Clean Leather with Water?

When cleaning leather, I have learned that there is no one-size-fits-all method. Over the years, I have tried and shared various effective leather cleaning techniques, ranging from specialized formulas to various household leather cleaners. But one question keeps popping up: Can you clean leather with water?

You can use just water to clean leather items, as it helps remove dirt, debris, and certain stains. Water is a pH-suitable and chemical-free solution that works for various leather types. However, you must do so carefully and avoid making the leather piece soggy.

Thus, it is essential to learn how to clean leather with water without incurring any damage to your treasured leather pieces. I will review the right way to clean leather with water and the pros and cons of this technique.

can you clean leather with soap and water

How to Clean Leather with Water

Leather care equates to an extended life shelf of your leather items. Now, leather is a porous and sensitive material, so it doesn’t need to be subjected to excessive moisture, harsh chemical treatments, and other elements.

Since water appears to be a mild solvent compared to other formulas, how does one clean leather with water without damaging these treasured pieces?

The proper way of cleaning leather with water involves going over the surface of the dirty or stained item with a soft cloth damped with this solution. To help you achieve a tremendous result, I will explain this process in easy steps below. Before that, you must arrange the supplies needed.

Supplies Needed:

  • Warm or cool water
  • A microfiber towel
  • Soft-bristled brush (optional)
  • Leather conditioner

Now, you are all set to start the cleaning. Here you go.

Step One: Take off Dust and Debris from the Leather Surface

Before you go over the leather surface with water, you must remove dirt and debris from the item you want to clean. Gently dust off any spec of dirt using a cloth or employ a soft-bristled brush to remove the grime. Be sure to work through all corners and crevices of the leather item.

Step Two: Dampen Your Cleaning Cloth

Now, dip the microfiber towel into a bowl of water (either warm or cool) and wring out the excess moisture. Then, place the dampened towel on the leather surface and let it sit there for a short while – I find this effective in loosening dirt for easier cleaning.

Step Three: Rub the Surface with the Damp Cloth

Start rubbing the damp cloth across the leather surface in small, gentle motions, ensuring you get across crevices and hard-to-get spots. You can employ a soft-bristled brush to work on pesky stains.

Step Four: Rinse off Residues

I know this states “rinse,” but I don’t mean tossing the leather item into water! Rinse the microfiber towel in fresh water and wipe off the leather surface to clean off likely residues or dirt.

Step Five: Apply Some Conditioner

During this cleaning process, the leather must have lost some of its inherent oils. Compensating for the moisture loss and restoring its shine is important. So, apply mink oil or leather conditioner to treat this piece after cleaning. Spray the conditioning product or rub with a clean cloth across the leather in thin layers.

Note: If you are dealing with stains that have a greasy feel/appearance, I recommend you use warm water.

can you clean leather seats with water

Pros of Using Water to Clean Leather

Employing water in your leather cleaning routine has several benefits, especially if you put this solution to good use. With that in mind, here are a few advantages of cleaning leather items with water.

Water is a Chemical-Free Solution

Water remains an excellent solution if you are thinking of how to clean a leather couch naturally. Today, you would likely find various leather cleaning products in the market containing bleaching agents and certain chemicals that could degrade this material’s finishing and texture.

However, water, as a chemical-free solution, can effectively clean leather surfaces without leaving any harsh effects. All that is needed is to get a clean rag damped with water and wipe clean your treasured leather pieces.

It is an Inexpensive Solvent

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of what household products you can use to clean leather is water. Water is a free-occurring liquid, and all households can access this solution (no matter how little).

Instead of investing in several specially formulated cleaning products, you can rely on water to eliminate dust, dirt, and grime from your leather.

The good thing is that you only need a small amount of water, as you don’t necessarily need to get the leather piece all soaked up. This works well for folks on a budget yet seeking an effective cleaning routine for their leather sandals, boots, furniture, clothing, and similar items.

Water Deodorizes Leather

No one wants a smelly leather boot or couch! Impressively, water serves as a natural smell remover. This solution can effectively deodorize your leather, leaving it with a fresh and clean smell – an easy wipe with a cloth damped with water can help you achieve great results.

However, it is also important to condition your leather material after deodorizing it with water. This process would help replenish the lost oil and make the leather suppler.

It works for Different Types of Leather.

While some commercial cleaning products work for only a specific kind of leather, water is an effective solution for all leather types. With a reasonably suitable pH, you can effectively clean rough-out, aniline, semi-finished, and other forms of leather using this neutral solution.

It is Eco-Friendly

The world aims to create a pollution-free environment, and most people seek eco-friendly products that work well for cleaning their leather pieces. If you are one of such persons, try using water to do this job.

Not only does this product clean, but it also leaves the fibers of your treasured leather pieces moisturized and supple, which would further help extend the lifespan of this product.

Cons of Using Water to Clean Leather

While using water for cleaning leather pieces is effective and offers tremendous results, this technique has a few downsides. The common disadvantages of using water on leather surfaces include the following:

Excess Moisture Could Trigger Moldy Growth

When leather gets wet, it could trigger the growth of mildew, which could discolor and degrade this item. This is primarily due to extended exposure of your leather to wet conditions or not drying it properly after cleaning.

So, be sure to dry the cleaned leather pieces in an airy environment to help the evaporation of the moisture. But, if your leather already has these microbial growths, it is crucial to learn how to remove molds and mildew from leather pieces.

It Could Fade Leather Hues

We all know that extended use of a leather item can cause fading, but exposure to moisture could also make your leather color fade. Using this water-cleaning technique for leather could make the item’s hue dull and tamper with dyes, which is not aesthetically appealing.

Nevertheless, I have a way out – spot-testing the item before going all over the entire leather surface with the damped cloth. Also, it would be best to avoid light-colored leather pieces to prevent an interaction with the dye.

Can You Clean Leather with Water

You can clean leather with water; this is an inexpensive and effective way to get rid of dirt and stains on leather surfaces. This solution also deodorizes leather pieces, keeping them smelling fresh. However, you have to conduct this cleaning properly.

First, avoid soaking the leather with excess moisture – get a cloth damped with some water and wipe the item thoroughly. Can you clean the leather with soap and water? Yes, this is a more practical approach for pesky stains, but use a mild soap.

Evina Naomi

Ewofere, Evina Naomi is a biotechnologist and passionate content writer. As a great lover of leather and various leather crafts, she broadly addresses leather-related issues. She is a writer of many excellent articles on leather. With great knowledge and enthusiasm, readers can access researched pieces on various leather types and the best techniques that work on them. Naomi is here to lead you through the journey of choosing excellent leather products and ensure you handle them rightly. So you can embark on your leather sewing and crafting journey with her and have an incredible experience.

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