Can You Wash Leather In A Washing Machine?



Can You Wash Leather In A Washing Machine

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No, you should never wash leather in a washing machine.

Leather, known for its durability and timeless appeal, is a material that demands special care to maintain its beauty and longevity. Many of us have faced the dilemma of dealing with dirty or stained leather items, whether it’s a beloved leather jacket, a designer handbag, or a pair of leather shoes.

The question that often arises is, “Can you wash leather in a washing machine?” In this article, we will explore the dos and don’ts of cleaning leather, the best way to wash leather (spoiler alert: it’s not in a washing machine), alternative cleaning methods, address some frequently asked questions, and offer some final words of advice.

Learn More: Can You Wash a Wash Leather?

Dos and Don’ts Wash Leather In A Washing Machine


  • Dust and Debris Removal: Before attempting any cleaning method, gently remove loose dust and debris from the leather item using a soft brush or a lint-free cloth. This will prevent any abrasive particles from scratching the leather during cleaning.
  • Spot Cleaning: When dealing with minor stains or spills, the best approach is to spot clean. Use a damp (not wet) cloth and a mild leather cleaner specifically designed for the type of leather you’re cleaning. Gently dab the affected area, being careful not to rub vigorously.
  • Use Leather Conditioner: After cleaning, it’s essential to keep the leather moisturized. Apply a leather conditioner to prevent the leather from drying out and cracking. Conditioning also restores the leather’s natural shine.
  • Test in an Inconspicuous Area: Before using any cleaning or conditioning product, test it in an inconspicuous spot on the leather to ensure it doesn’t cause any discoloration or damage.


  • Machine Washing: Never attempt to wash leather in a washing machine. Leather is almost always unsuitable for machine washing and should never be soaked in water during cleaning. This can lead to irreversible damage, including shrinkage and loss of shape.
  • Excessive Water: Avoid using excessive water when cleaning leather. Leather and water don’t mix well, and soaking it can result in water stains, warping, and weakening of the material.
  • Direct Heat: Do not expose leather to direct heat sources such as hairdryers or radiators to speed up drying. High heat can cause the leather to crack or become brittle.
  • Harsh Chemicals: Stay away from harsh chemicals, solvents, or household cleaning products not specifically designed for leather. These can strip away natural oils and cause irreversible damage.
  • Sunlight and Humidity: Don’t leave leather items in direct sunlight for extended periods, as it can cause fading and drying. Excess humidity can lead to mold and mildew growth, which is equally detrimental.

Best Way To Wash Leather:

The best way to clean leather is through a gentle, manual process that preserves its natural beauty and integrity. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Step 1

Preparation: Gather your cleaning supplies, including a soft cloth, a leather-specific cleaner, leather conditioner, and a soft brush.

Step 2

Dust Removal: Begin by gently removing any loose dust and debris from the leather using a soft brush or cloth.

Step 3

Spot Cleaning: For stains or spills, dampen a clean, soft cloth with water and add a small amount of a leather cleaner specifically formulated for your type of leather (e.g., suede, full-grain, or patent leather). Gently blot the stained area; avoid rubbing.

Step 4

Rinse and Dry: After spot cleaning, rinse the cloth and wipe away any residue from the cleaner. Then, use a dry cloth to absorb any excess moisture from the leather.

Step 5

Conditioning: Apply a leather conditioner to the entire surface of the leather item. Follow the product’s instructions for the best results. Conditioning helps maintain the leather’s suppleness and shine.

Step 6

Air Dry: Allow the leather item to air dry naturally at room temperature. Do not use artificial heat sources, and avoid direct sunlight or high humidity.

Step 7

Buff and Polish: Once the leather is completely dry, use a clean, dry cloth to gently buff and polish the leather to restore its shine.

Remember, the specific products and methods you use may vary depending on the type of leather and the severity of stains or dirt. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and test any new products in an inconspicuous area first.

Alternative Washing Methods For Leather:

If you’re hesitant to use traditional cleaning methods or want to explore alternatives, consider these options:

  1. Steam Cleaning: Some people have had success using a handheld steam cleaner with a gentle attachment. Be cautious not to use too much pressure or heat.
  2. White Vinegar and Water: A mixture of white vinegar and water (in equal parts) can sometimes help remove stains from leather. Dab the stained area and then rinse with a damp cloth.
  3. Baking Soda: For odors, sprinkle a small amount of baking soda inside the leather item, let it sit for a few hours, and then shake out the excess.
  4. Professional Cleaning: When in doubt or dealing with valuable or sentimental leather items, it’s advisable to seek the services of a professional leather cleaner. They have the expertise and equipment to clean and restore leather effectively.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

What type of leather cleaner should I use?

Ans: Use a leather cleaner specifically formulated for the type of leather you’re cleaning (e.g., suede, full-grain, or patent leather). Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

How often should I clean and condition leather?

Ans: The frequency of cleaning and conditioning depends on usage. For lightly used items, once or twice a year may suffice. For heavily used items, consider cleaning and conditioning every few months.

Can I use regular household cleaning products on leather?

Ans: No, avoid using regular household cleaning products on leather, as they can damage the material. Stick to products designed for leather care.

Can I speed up the drying process with a hairdryer or heater?

Ans: No, using direct heat sources can cause leather to crack or become brittle. Allow it to air dry naturally at room temperature.

Final Words:

Cleaning and caring for leather items can help them maintain their beauty and last for many years. Remember the key dos and don’ts: avoid machine washing, use mild cleaning products designed for leather, spot clean stains, and condition regularly to keep your leather items looking their best. By following these guidelines and exercising patience, you can ensure that your cherished leather possessions remain in excellent condition for generations to come.


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