Taking the Pain Out of Patent Leather

Patent Leather Care

Patent leather.  It’s chic, sleek and luxe but keeping that gorgeous finish requires a little special care.

All patent leather lovers have suffered from at least one of these fashion emergencies: Color Transfer, Foggy Finish or Fingerprint Central and sadly there are no quick fixes or secret tricks that actually solve most of these problems.

If you follow my Insta-Stories, a couple weeks ago I shared my trials with a few of the popular Pinterest tips for cleaning patent leather including: Milk, Scotch Tape and Mineral Oil.  In my opinion NONE of these wacky methods work.

Although the internet is full of even more DIY’s for patent leather cleaning, like using rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover (eek I would never), taking the pain out of patent leather is really all about preventative care.

Patent leather get’s it’s glossy appearance from a process where the leather is coated with lacquer, that’s what makes it super duper shiny.

Because of this process patent leather is far more resistant to marks and stains than some other, more delicate leathers. However, it is prone to color transfer and scuffing.

Keeping your patent leather pristine is all about daily care. Wipe your patent leather down with a baby wipe or a dryer sheet after use to get rid of remove smudges and dust.  If you use a baby wipe make sure to buff it out with a clean dry cloth immediately after.

For stubborn dust and smudging, spray a cloth with Windex and buff away the grime. Always dry and then buff IMMEDIATELY after anything wet touches the patent leather with a fresh, dry cloth.

One of the major problems with patent leather is that it picks up dyes and colors from other fabrics (such as clothing, etc.) very easily. Removing this is super difficult so the best thing to do is to take steps to prevent it.  Avoid allowing your handbag come in constant contact with other clothing, etc. that may have dyes that transfer easily such as denim.  A white patent leather bag rubbing against dark denim on a hot day spells DISASTER!

Surprisingly, most damage to patent leather occurs during storage and this is easily preventable!

Always store your patent leather in its original dustbag. This will keep dust, grime and moisture from ruining the bag. To maintain the shape of your bag, make sure to store the bag in an upright position or the storage could create permanent dents in the patent leather.

Extended time pressed against another leather piece or plastic can cause color transfer. To prevent dye transfer, store patent leather away from colored plastic or cotton bags. (Polyester or rayon bags are fine.) And keep handbags separated; leaning one against another can also cause discoloration.

Some scuffs and stains are so severe that they will penetrate the leather below the surface coating creating a foggy or yellowed appearance. Unlike other leathers, there is no cleaner or conditioner that will slowly buff away hard stains or deep discoloration. Long term wear can cause discoloration, as well as long-term exposure to sunlight. This type of discoloration is usually irreversible.  It’s best to take the piece to a professional to see if they can do anything about it.

Stylist’s TIP:  In general when dealing with any type of leather or suede, be mindful of the materials you wear when going out and how they might affect one another. If you are wearing brand new dark denim jeans, you definitely do not want to go out with light colored shoes or accessories because the color will transfer!

How to Care for Patent Leather

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32 Comments

  1. okay, so i feel like so out-of-date that i’ve got no patent leather material in my closet. now that you’ve posted this, i may have to consider getting one just to see if it works well on me. 😉

  2. This is really informative, one thing we cant keep away from thing especially this period dust. the only thing we do look out for are something we can use in cleaning them up to bring them back to their old self when ever we have needs for them.

  3. I never would have thought to use Windex. I’m definitely going to try these daily care tips and see if I can recover my patent leather items at least at this stage.

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