How to Clean Faux Leather

Jennifer L. Betts
brown sofa cleaning

Pleather is a fun alternative to leather that is both cheaper and typically easier to care for. Made of a synthetic material, faux leather does take a gentle touch to get rid of stains and deodorize. Get the deets on how to keep your faux leather looking fabulous.

Treating Stains on Faux Leather

Faux, artificial, synthetic or fake leather, also called pleather, is a leather alternative that many people enjoy. Faux leather typically comes in two different types. You can get vinyl or PU (polyurethane). When cleaning faux leather clothing, you want to pay attention the to laundry instructions on the tag. While most faux leather can be washed, some clothes are dry clean only.

Supplies to Keep on Hand

Whether you are spot treating or down and dirty cleaning your faux leather, there are a few materials that you'll need.

Mild Detergent and Water for Basic Stains

When it comes to most stains like juice or coffee, acting fast can be a lifesaver for your faux leather materials. Because harsh cleaners can make the fabric stiff or damage pleather, you'll want to grab a mild detergent like Woolite cleaner then:

  1. In a spray bottle, mix about a tablespoon of detergent with enough water to fill the bottle.
  2. Shake vigorously
  3. Spray the mixture onto a clean towel.
  4. Wipe up the stain.
  5. Gentle scrubbing can be applied to more serious stains.

Stubborn or Set-In Stains for Most Faux Leather Items

For set-in stains that went unnoticed or more stubborn stains like ink or dye, you'll need to dig deeper into your cleaning toolbox and grab the alcohol or vinegar.

  1. Mix equal parts vinegar or alcohol and water.
  2. Dip the cloth in the mixture.
  3. Blot the stain.
  4. Repeat using a clean area of the cloth.

Disclaimer: You'll want to try this on discrete area of your pleather first to ensure that it won't harm the fabric. Sometimes a subtle coffee stain can be better than a large area of discoloration.

Machine Washing Faux Leather Clothing

You've become a stain treating master for your pleather pants. But there are times when your faux leather jacket is going to need a good overall cleaning, especially since this fabric is really good at trapping in the oils and heat. It is plastic after all. When machine washing your faux leather, there are a few special instructions you'll need to follow:

  1. Make sure that your coat or pants are machine washable. You don't want to throw something that says dry clean only in the washer.
  2. Turn the piece completely inside out.
  3. Use cold water and a gentle cycle for washing.
  4. Add some mild detergent, per the instructions.
  5. After pulling your clothing from the washer, lay it flat or hang it to dry for best results. You can also tumble dry on cool, if your tag lists this as an option.
  6. To remove wrinkles, you can try steaming the clothing or using the steam on an iron. Never touch the material with the iron. Just hover and let the steam do the work.
Woman cleaning leather jacket

Hand Washing Fake Leather Purses or Shoes

Faux leather purses and shoes might not be destined for the wash. This doesn't mean that you can't clean them, you just need to use a hand washing technique.

  1. Grab your mild detergent and a couple white clothes.
  2. In a sink, mix a tablespoon of detergent with several cups of water.
  3. Dip the cloth and wring out thoroughly.
  4. Wipe down the entire area of the purse, belt or shoes.
  5. Gently rub stubborn dirt or stains.
  6. Use a clean cloth to wipe dry.
  7. You might leave it out to air dry or use a hair dryer on cool to quicken the process.
  8. Melt a teaspoon of coconut oil and use a clean cloth to condition your faux leather.
mould on old brown leather bag

Cleaning Furniture Made of Faux Leather

When it comes to cleaning furniture, you have a lot more area to cover. Additionally, before you start attacking with a faux leather cleaner and conditioner, you'll want to bust out the vacuum.

  1. Vacuum off the entire couch getting rid of any crusty food and loose particles of dirt.
  2. Treat any stains using the stain treating methods.
  3. Wet a cloth with water and wipe the whole couch or chair down.
  4. Follow the instructions on a faux leather cleaner/conditioner to treat the entire couch.
cleaning a leather sofa

Removing Odors From Faux Leather

Since faux leather can capture oil, dirt and stink from your body, it needs to be deodorized. You might deodorize before putting it away for the season or just to freshen up the smell of your couch. Deodorizing is simple because all you need is baking soda.

  1. Lay the clothing out flat.
  2. Sprinkle both the inside and outside with the baking soda.
  3. For furniture, just give it a nice all over sprinkle.
  4. Let it sit for several hours.
  5. Either shake or vacuum off the baking soda.

Getting Faux Leather Clean

Faux leather or pleather can be a fun and trendy leather alternative. Not only is it animal free but it can be easier to take care of. Make sure that you follow all the instructions on the tag when it comes to care. While most clothing can be thrown in the wash, some might take a dry cleaners touch.

How to Clean Faux Leather