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Best leather cleaner 2023: Spruce up your leather furniture, jacket or handbag

Keep those classy leather belongings clean with the picks from our list

An old leather club chair or chesterfield sofa is an easy way to inject instant personality into any room. Leather is hard-wearing and natural, so makes a popular upholstery finish, chosen for its robust characteristics. It also looks great, and good-quality leather furniture only becomes more charming with age. But whether you’ve got a new cream leather sofa or beat-up old chesterfield, leather does require cleaning and care to prolong its life and make sure it continues to look its best.

Leather clothing and accessories are no different, from sturdy biker leathers to delicate premium designer leather handbags, it will all need cleaning at some stage. And cleaning leather isn’t the same as cleaning other clothes, accessories or upholstery – your usual water and detergents won’t do the trick. Specially formulated leather cleaners are designed to remove grime and stains, but without harming the leather. Most also have conditioning properties to help stop leather from drying out and cracking.

So, if you’ve got some leather items that are in need of a bit of TLC, read our picks of the best leather cleaners so you can stock up and get to work.

Best leather cleaner: At a glance

How to choose the best leather cleaner for you

Are all leather cleaners the same?

While all leather cleaners are formulated to clean leather, that doesn’t make them universally suited to every leather item around your home and in your wardrobe – there are subtle differences between cleaners that make them best suited to different items. Some are designed for furniture, and these tend to be more generic leather cleaners.

Others have clever formulations to clean without reducing the breathability of your leather while increasing its water repellent properties, making them best suited to outdoor gear like shoes and jackets. For expensive leather accessories, you’ll need a gentle product rather than a deep cleaner. Or for dry, tired leather, look for a cleaner that also conditions and nourishes the leather, to bring it back to its best.

Are there any items I can’t clean with a leather cleaner?

Technically suede is leather, but the soft fuzzy nap of the suede is likely to be damaged by most leather cleaners, so you’ll need to look for a suede brush and dedicated suede-cleaning products instead.

What about faux leather?

Many people have success cleaning faux leather with leather-cleaning products, as a good faux leather will have a similar texture, though it’s usually not as porous. If you’re buying a leather cleaner online, check whether it can be used on faux leather and, if it doesn’t say, you can usually find out whether others are using it successfully on faux leather with a quick scroll through the user reviews.

How do I use a leather cleaner?

Most leather cleaners are designed to be used neat, with a lightly moistened, clean, lint-free cloth – but always check the label. You’ll need to employ a bit of elbow grease and rub the cleaner into the leather but don’t be too rough – it’s better to have to repeat the process using a gentle approach than to scrub the leather abrasively and risk damaging it.

What precautions should I take?

If using on expensive, beloved or sentimental leather items, or if you’re unsure about the product’s suitability for the colour or type of leather, always spot test on an unseen area to check for colour fastness and that you’re happy with the level of sheen or finish that the cleaner will leave. Always follow the instructions for use that are given on the packaging.

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The best leather cleaners to buy in 2023

1. HG Deep Cleaner for Leather: Best cleaner for a thorough clean

Price: £11 | Buy now from Amazon

HG is a trusted cleaning brand that’s regularly recommended for its array of specialist cleaning products formulated to tackle all sorts of muck and grime around the home. And while there might be a picture of a sofa on the bottle, this product’s not just for furniture – it can be used to clean luggage and bags, too.

Designed to deep clean, but with a mild, water-based formula, this product should still care for the leather. Really grubby or stained leather might need more than one application to get to all the ground-in muck, though, and the small 250ml bottle will get used fast on larger sofas, which could mean this product starts to become more expensive than it looks at first glance.

Key details – Bottle size: 250ml; Bottle type: Pour nozzle

Buy now from Amazon

2. Furniture Clinic Leather Care Kit: Best cleaning and care kit for sofas

Price: £30 | Buy now from Amazon

This kit has everything you need to keep your leather sofas and seats in pristine condition. It’s a two-part kit: use the leather cleaner in combination with the included cleaning sponge then, once you’re satisfied that all the dirt and grime is gone, apply the leather protection cream with the applicator sponge, finally buffing with a clean cloth.

The leather protection cream will feed and condition the leather, keeping it feeling soft and supple, and it’ll add a protective layer to help repel stains, keeping it looking great. Depending on how you use your leather furniture, it can help extend the time between cleans. This kit doesn’t come cheap, but it offers a great solution for keeping your leather at its best.

Key details – Bottle size: 2 x 500ml; Bottle type: Pour nozzle

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3. Nikwax Leather Cleaner: Best cleaner for waterproof leather clothing and footwear

Price: £5.75 | Buy now from Amazon

Nikwax is the go-to brand for cleaning products specifically designed for technical and outdoor gear, so it’s no surprise that the company has a popular leather cleaner in its range. This spray-on cleaner is designed for outdoor leather gear and is the perfect choice for anything from motorbike leathers to walking boots.

It cleans and restores water repellency without reducing the breathability and, at under six quid, it’s very reasonably priced. The bottle is made from 100% recycled plastic, as well as being fully recyclable after use.

For really tired leather, or for an extra boost to repel water, it works well paired with the Nikwax Leather Restorer, which will add or rejuvenate water repellency as well as conditioning the leather.

Key details – Bottle size: 300ml; Bottle type: Spray nozzle

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4. Stardrops Leather Clean and Feed: Best budget cleaner

Price: £3.50 | Buy now from Amazon

If you’re looking for a cheap and cheerful leather cleaner, look no further. Not only is this Stardrops leather cleaner inexpensive, it’s a huge 750ml bottle, making it very cost-effective. Primarily designed for leather furniture, such as leather sofas or dining chairs, this is a great everyday cleaner to keep in your cleaning cupboard.

Depending on the colour and condition of your leather, it won’t necessarily remove deeper, ground-in dirt and stains, but it’s ideal for a quick spruce up and will also condition the leather, leaving it softer and more supple. For the price, it’s a popular product for day-to-day furniture cleaning.

Key details – Bottle size: 750ml; Bottle type: Spray nozzle

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5. Collonil Delicate Cream: Best gentle cleaner for handbags

Price: £8.45 | Buy now from Amazon

For expensive leather handbags that require a softer approach, Collonil Delicate Cream offers a formulation that’s gentle and mild. Used with a soft cloth, this cleaner comes highly recommended for designer leather bags, with some users claiming it’s effective at removing those dreaded denim stains from light-coloured leather.

At just under £9, it doesn’t seem too expensive, but this only buys you a small, face cream-sized pot, so keep this in mind if you’ve got lots of bags that need reviving. It should also work a treat on similar items such as purses, wallets and belts. But remember: it’s a gentle cleaner, so don’t expect miracles on heavily marked or stained items.

Key details – Bottle size: 50ml; Bottle type: Jar

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6. Bickmore Saddle Soap Plus: Best cleaner to revive old leather

Price: £7.49 | Buy now from Amazon

Saddle soap, as the name suggests, was originally formulated for horse riding saddles, tack, and other equestrian gear. But the horsey set couldn’t keep it to themselves for long and now it’s no secret that this wonder soap is ideal for cleaning and conditioning all types of thick, old, and dried out leather. Use it on thick leather satchels, boots, and vintage leather furniture.

While it’s a leather cleaner, it’s also heavily nourishing and contains lanolin to moisturise and restore dry or old leather. If it can clean and revive an old leather saddle that gets battered by the weather and the rider, then it’ll work wonders on any leather that’s in need of a boost. And with thousands of positive reviews, the results speak for themselves.

Key details – Tin size: 79g; Type: Cream polish in a tin

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