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How To Clean Faux Leather The Right Way: 5 Different Types

Last Updated: August 4, 2021

You’ve finally done it, saved up for that one faux leather piece that you wanted that you swore you would wear anytime you got the chance. All is well and good until you inevitably drop, spill, or splash something on it. Now what? Learn how to clean faux leather the right way! DON’T RUIN YOUR PIECES.

Faux leather is pretty easy to clean once you know what you’re working with. 

Since fake leather is non-porous, that means stains will mostly sit on top of the fabric. Wiping it with a damp, non-abrasive cloth, like microfiber, will often do the trick.

If you need more of a deep cleaning, however, ahead we break down just how to clean faux leather, including the most common types. (If you need a guide on the types of faux leather, check out our’s here!)

How to Clean Faux Leather

How to Clean Synthetic Petroleum Leathers (PVC/PU/PET)

Out of all the faux leather options out there, PVC, PU, and PET are probably the most common, so we’re going to start with those.

The first piece of advice that we can give you with all leather, but particularly this type, is to check the manufacturer’s label. These types of leather substitutes are used in the majority of faux leather clothing you own, so most of them don’t have very complex care instructions.

In the event that you’ve cut out the tag or your manufacturer just wasn’t nice enough to give you one, there are a few rules you can follow when washing leather like this.

  1. First, you’re going to want to use a delicate detergent. Mix a few drops with some water (and we really do mean a few drops, you only need about 2 tablespoons per gallon of water) and use a cloth or soft brush dipped in the mixture to gently scrub out any obvious stains.

Some faux leather materials are actually machine washable; if this is the case, wash your garment on a delicate cycle with a gentle laundry detergent using cool or warm water. 

  1. After you do that, rinse with cool water. It’s important not to let any high temperatures get onto this fabric because plastic melts.
  1. Finally, make sure you hang materials like this up to line dry instead of putting them in the dryer on high heat.

How to Clean Piñatex

Here’s a faux leather that involves absolutely no guesswork. Piñatex is a fairly new and innovative fiber primarily made by Ananas Anam. 

Having really only one manufacturer makes things difficult for buyers, but pretty easy if you’re looking to clean. There’s only one set of manufacturer’s instructions, which goes as follows:

  1. Use a cloth soaked in warm soapy water to remove any stains or soilage. If you really need to, you can rinse with lukewarm water, as long as you never submerge the item fully.
  2. Let your item air dry fully before doing anything else to it. As much as you might be tempted to, refrain from using a heat source to speed up drying time.
  3. It’s recommended that you use a natural colorless wax to preserve the quality of your item. Use a soft dry cloth to rub a small amount of wax into the item with circular motions until fully absorbed. Make sure to use this sparingly, you don’t need a lot.
  4. Allow this to dry for 24 hours. Again, don’t be tempted to use a heat source.
  5. If you need to buff off any built up wax, use a dry cloth or gentle brush.

How to Clean Cork Leather

Out of all the leather options we’ve gone over today, cork is probably the easiest to clean because it’s naturally waterproof.

You can submerge cork leather if you need to get a good clean, but all you really need is a cloth and some soapy water. Just rub gently until you get all the marks off; you can even use baby wipes in a pinch!

How to Clean Cactus Leather

While cactus leather isn’t as common as other faux leathers, it requires the same amount of care if you happen to own a cactus leather piece.

Like other faux leathers, it’s best to use gentle methods and detergent to clean. Thanks to Cacto, here are the best ways to care for your cactus leather:

  • Remove any dirt with a soft, clean cloth. If you need a bit of extra help, you can use a small amount of shampoo as well.
  • Never place hot objects on the material, or use heat when cleaning or trying it.
  • Do not use harsh chemicals or household cleaning products on cactus leather. 
  • Finally, never use acetone to clean cactus leather.

How to Clean AppleSkin

Unfortunately, the parent company for AppleSkin hasn’t gotten its website up yet, but there is a general consensus for care across retailers.

Thankfully, AppleSkin leather can be cleaned like most other faux leathers: with a soft cloth. Light stains only need a quick wipe with a dry cloth, but tougher stains can be gently scrubbed with a damp cloth

And remember, always let it air dry!

Bottom Line

Any garment you wear is going to get dirty sometimes, and pleather is no exception to that. But luckily, it’s not as hard to clean as you might first assume. 

As long as you know exactly what type of fabric you’re working with, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and these tips on how to clean faux leather and you’ll be fine. 

Final tip: to keep your faux leather hydrated, you can put a small amount of coconut oil or baby oil on a soft cloth and gently buff your item!