red patent leather shoes

How to Clean Patent Leather

One of the main advantages of patent leather, aside from its great appearance, is that it’s more hardwearing than normal leather. This also makes it much easier to clean.

But what is the best option for how to clean patent leather? Find out below.


What Is Patent Leather?

blue patent leather with geometric pattern

Patent leather is made from standard grained leather that’s given a clear, high-shine coating. Modern processes use PVC or resin, although the original patent leather was done with lacquer.

Along with making the leather very shiny, the PVC coating vastly improves its water and scratch resistance.

However, if you do scuff patent leather, you’ll have a much harder time fixing it than traditional leather. You’d need to replace the coating for it to be completely fixed, which isn’t something you can do at home.


What Damages Patent Leather?

black patent leather heels with damage

Patent leather is damaged by all the usual leather no-nos: water, improper care, and sharp or rough materials.

The PVC coating can also be stripped with aerosols or mild acids. As such, you’ll want to avoid using shoe protector sprays on patent leather (although it doesn’t really need it).

Try to avoid scuffing your patent leather wherever possible. If the worst does happen, you’ll need to find a specialist leather restorer to work on it.

For minor scrapes (on black leather), you could try something like Charles Stewart Patent Leather Repair. It’s basically nail varnish for your shoes. For other colours, or larger areas of damage, speak to a specialist.


How to Clean Patent Leather

brushing black patent leather boot

Cleaning patent leather is generally much easier than standard leather. As such, you don’t really need any specialist products. Just use:

The steps are as follows:

  1. Brush any loose debris off your leather item. You’ll want the softest brush possible to avoid damaging the leather’s coating. This is why a toothbrush is a good option.
  2. Give the leather a quick buff with a clean, dry cloth.
  3. Wipe the leather with a damp microfibre cloth, working in small, circular motions.
  4. If there are any stubborn marks, mix a few drops of washing-up liquid into some warm water and rub the mark. This isn’t necessary for general cleaning, though. Remove any excess with a different cloth.
  5. Using another dry cloth, ensure any excess moisture is removed from the leather. You can also buff the finish up to a shine during this step.
  6. To bring life back to dull patent leather, use a tiny amount of petroleum jelly. Rub it in until it’s absorbed, wait 5 minutes, and then buff the leather up to a shine using a cloth.

Finally, store your patent leather item in a cotton shoe bag, such as these Lsdjeer Bags. The tissue paper leather items come wrapped in can absorb moisture, leading to the leather cracking.

wipe black leather shoes with cloth

Final Thoughts

You should aim to clean patent leather fairly regularly, although this depends on how often you use the item. Luckily, it should only take about 10 minutes, making patent leather upkeep far quicker and easier than normal leather.