Make this coated leather shine with tips from our experts.
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Women's legs in jeans and black high-heeled shoes on the floor of the house on the carpet near the door, women's shoes with heels
Credit: Victoria Kotlyarchuk / GETTY IMAGES

Whether it's your couch or favorite pair of shoes, you likely own something covered in patent leather. The common material is known for its glossy appearance and smooth feel; other standard leathers tend to have more of a rubbery texture. But like all leathers, this iteration needs just as much care to ensure it stays in mint condition for as long as possible. If you want to know how to get your patent leather furniture, shoes, and accessories clean, follow these tips from our experts.

Patent vs. Regular Leather

Patent leather differs from other leather types you may come across (like suede), mainly due to its high-gloss look, which is the result of a coat of liquid polyurethane.

When to Clean Patent Leather

Luckily, cleaning patent leather is straightforward. This material is one of the easiest types of leather to clean, thanks to its sturdy, smooth finish, says David Mesquita, the co-owner of Leather Spa. Routinely cleaning patent leather will help preserve its quality, maintain its shiny appearance, and keep it free from scratches.

You don't need to add patent leather pieces to your weekly cleaning checklist, but you should evaluate them on a use-by-use basis, says Mesquita. That means wiping off your patent leather shoes after wearing them outside to remove any debris or dirt. If you have a patent leather couch, clean it when you tackle your other living room furniture.

How to Clean Patent Leather

You might have read about several DIY patent leather cleaning solutions, but take caution—never apply harsh household chemicals (like vinegar, bleach, or acetone) to patent leather, since these can damage its quality. And while certain cooking ingredients, like olive oil, are regularly touted to improve this material's shine, steer clear; these oils can actually create a greasy buildup.

Ultimately, the only items you should turn to for this task are a microfiber cloth and a cleaner specifically formulated for patent leather, says Vincent Rao Jr. of Vince's Village Cobbler, a shoe repair shop. Any other sprays, oils, or creams will ruin the patent, he warns.

Materials You'll Need

  • Microfiber cloth
  • Patent leather cleaner

Follow these steps to clean your patent leather:

  1. Take a microfiber cloth and wipe off any dust, says Mesquita.
  2. Use another microfiber cloth dampened with water to gently wipe down your patent leather.
  3. For added shine and to buff out markings, gently apply a patent leather cleaner (Mesquita recommends Moneysworth and Best Patent Leather Care).

How to Keep Patent Leather Items in Good Condition

While patent leather is easy to clean thanks to its glossy, smooth finish, it's important to stay on top of wear and tear, since it is particularly susceptible to cracking. And remember: Patent leather isn't waterproof—it's water resistant. Try your best to avoid puddles and spills. "Patent leather will do better than most leathers, including calf and lamb skin, if there is a beverage or product spilled on them," says Rao Jr. "Patent leather is naturally more durable than you think—however, it is still not advised to wear patent leather shoes out in the rain, and if they happen to get dirty, it is best to get them taken care of right away."

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