How to Clean Patent Leather

High heel patent leather shoes

There is plenty of information available on how to clean patent leather. Cleaning patent leather is a very simple task. Follow a few basic guidelines and you will have clean, shiny, and well-protected patent leather, shoes, clothing, purses and more.

What Is Patent Leather?

Patent leather is real leather processed to achieve a high sheen on leather that is stiffer than untreated leather. The process of making patent leather is done in the last phase of tanning the leather when a varnish or lacquer is applied. Due to the stiffness of patent leather it is not the most comfortable leather for clothing, but people still wear specialty items made from it because of the tight sleek look it gives. Patent leather looks dressier than normal leather and is made into these items:

  • Black patent leather dress shoes
  • Tuxedo shoes
  • Dance shoes
  • Military uniform dress shoes
  • Women's high heels
  • Purses
  • Brief cases
  • Sexy black pants
  • Camisoles
  • Mini-skirts
  • Knee-high boots
  • Jackets

When to Clean Patent Leather

Patent leather should be cleaned whenever you see any smudges or dirt that decrease it's shine. Back in the days when both men and women wore dressier clothes, it was common to shine patent leather shoes at least once a week. Shoeshine booths were common in front of department stores, at bus or train depots or wherever it was common for people to gather. Reading the newspaper and getting your shoes shined was a weekly habit of most white-collar men.

How to Clean Patent Leather

There are several methods for how to clean patent leather. In each case it is important not to saturate the leather with water.

Soap and Water Method

  1. The first step in how to clean patent leather is to brush off any loose dirt or debris with a soft bristle brush.
  2. Use a soft toothbrush to remove debris in any small crevices.
  3. Dampen a soft cotton washcloth with very little water and a tiny bit of mild soap.
  4. Wipe down the outside of the patent leather with the damp soapy cloth.
  5. Dry the patent leather with a soft polishing cloth.
  6. Let the item dry at room temperature for approximately 24 hours.
  7. Polish the patent leather with saddle soap and apply leather conditioner.

Baby Wipe Method

Regular baby wipes or pre-moistened wet wipes work wonderfully for cleaning patent leather. Use the wet wipe on the patent leather as you would a damp washcloth. After wiping with the wet wipe, buff the patent leather with a clean soft cloth. Be sure to follow up with a leather condition.

Leather Conditioners

After you clean your patent leather it is recommended to apply a leather conditioner. You can buy a special leather conditioner made specifically for patent leather or use a small amount of mineral oil.

Scuffed Patent Leather

If your patent leather has a deep scratch or scuff, you can sometimes buff it out. Use a soft cloth with some mineral oil and rub until the scuff is less noticeable. If there is still a problem use some shoe polish in the same color as your patent leather to make it less noticeable.

What Not To Use

Patten leather will get scratched easily or become dull if you use the wrong product. Do not use:

  • Rough or scratchy wash cloths
  • Hard brushes
  • Bleach
  • Excessive water

Patent Leather Storage Tips

Now that your patent leather is clean and conditioned, store it in a dust free, dry location. Put shoetrees in patent leather shoes to maintain their form, and store patent leather clothing in garment bags. Not that you know how to clean patent leather, get tips on how to clean faux leather.

How to Clean Patent Leather