How to Clean & Care for Italian Leather Sofa, Bag or Shoes

Italian leather is usually high-quality grain leather that is vegetable-tanned and made in Italy. While all sorts of leather can be made in Italy, including low-quality ones, the name Italian leather is usually reserved for the best quality leather that deserves the designation.

If you have Italian leather furniture, bag, or shoes, you must have spent a lot of money on them, and you may want to know how to clean and take care of them to make the most out of them.

How to clean Italian leather

When cleaning Italian leather, you have to keep in mind that most of it is made from full-grain leather and you must clean them as softly as you could.

We don’t recommend using a vacuum cleaner for Italian leather as it might cause more harm than good if you’re not careful. Use only trusted leather cleaners like Leather Honey or TriNova Leather Cleaner.

For DIY solution try these methods below:

Mild soap and warm water

Using mild soap and warm water is an effective and easy way to deep-clean Italian leather. If your item doesn’t have a care label, you can use this cleaning solution as the safest option. This method is fairly easy as you only need equal parts of the cleaning solution and gently wipe the surface using a microfiber cloth to remove any dust or mild stains.

You may also substitute mild soap with white vinegar if you want to. The white vinegar cleaning solution works well if you’re also dealing with bad smells and not just dust or dirt on any Italian leather item. Just make sure to wipe the surface dry once you’re done to avoid over-saturating the leather with liquid.

Lemon juice and cream of tartar

This method is for when you’re dealing with stains or water spots on your Italian leather. Here’s how you can do it:

Things you will need:


  1. Make a paste using equal parts of lemon juice and cream of tartar.
  2. Find the spots in your Italian leather that has stains. Apply the paste onto the surface using a microfiber cloth.
  3. Gently wipe the surface and see if the stains go away. If not, reapply the paste and let it sit for a few more hours.
  4. After a few hours, wipe the surface gently in a circular motion and you should be seeing no stains left.

White vinegar and linseed oil

This method is perfect if you want to prolong or restore the suppleness of Italian leather. The white vinegar acts as a cleaner and deodorizer while the linseed oil will bring that soft-to-the-touch feel to the leather.

Things you will need:

  • White vinegar
  • Linseed oil
  • Spray bottle
  • Microfiber cloth


  1. Mix 1 part of white vinegar with 2 parts of linseed oil. Place it inside a spray bottle for easier application.
  2. Shake the mixture before applying it to the microfiber cloth.
  3. Wipe the surface of your Italian leather with the mixture and let it sit for about 12 hours.
  4. Buff the area softly to bring back the softness of the material.

How to care for Italian leather

Even though Italian leather is tough like full-grain leather, you shouldn’t treat it as such. Italian leather is known for its beautiful finish and surface that you wouldn’t want to ruin by getting it all scratched up. While vegetable-tanned leather is usually thicker and more rugged, it is more prone to stains and absorbing water compared to chrome-tanned leather.

However, it is up to you if you enjoy a more worn and distressed look to your leather items.

Here’s how you can maintain and care for Italian leather:

Use leather conditioner

As with most leather items, conditioning is a sure way to make sure it lasts for a long time. For Italian leather, you don’t need to apply a leather conditioner every time you clean it. It’s not recommended to use DIY conditioners or recipes made from plant oils for this type of material, so it’s best to stick with those trusted brands in the market like Saphir or Leather Honey. Your most expensive leather items deserve proper treatment from the best conditioner brands.

Proper storage

In order to maintain the pristine condition of your item made from Italian leather, you should keep in mind that where you place it plays an important role in its longevity. Keep your item in a place where it’s not humid, hot, or moist as these factors can cause mold, discoloration, or bad odor.

How to polish Italian leather shoes

If you want to polish your shoes made from Italian leather, you should make sure they’re cleaned properly. If there are some dust particles or dirt on the surface, the polishing process won’t be effective at all. To polish Italian leather, do this:

  1. Use a soft-bristled brush to remove any loose dirt on the surface.
  2. Apply a leather cleaner using a soft cloth all over the surface.
  3. Use the soft-bristled brush to gently wipe the surface and focus on areas where there are scuff marks.
  4. Let it rest for 20 minutes after cleaning before rubbing some leather conditioner onto the item using a microfiber cloth.
  5. Use a shoe polish that is leather-friendly and in the same color as the leather finish.
  6. You may use a lanolin-based beeswax polish to help soften the material a little bit.
  7. Wipe off the excess polish using a soft cloth or an old pantyhose to give it a brand-new shine.

What happens if Italian leather gets wet?

Like regular leather made from full-grain materials, if Italian leather gets wet, the liquid will bind with the oils. Once the liquid binds with the leather oils, it will draw the moisture out and will stiffen the leather material once it starts evaporating. If your Italian leather becomes stiff, it will eventually turn brittle.

Aside from turning brittle, spilling liquid on your Italian leather item can also cause water stains and spots that are noticeable.

How to dry and remove water stains from Italian leather

If you happen to find stains or you accidentally spilled something on your Italian leather sofa or jacket, you should wipe off the excess immediately. Do not wait for the liquid to set a stain on the porous surface as it will be a harder problem to deal with.

However, if the liquid has dried and caused water stains on your Italian leather, here’s how you can remedy it:

  1. Make a soapy solution using warm water and mild soap.
  2. Form a lather and dab it lightly onto the surface with water stains.
  3. Wipe the surface with a dry cloth and let it air dry in a well-ventilated room.
  4. Never expose your Italian leather to direct sunlight or use a hairdryer to dry it artificially as it will only fade the material.

That should be enough to remove water stains, but if you’re dealing with grease or oil stains, you may use this method below:

  1. Remove the excess oil on the surface as soon as you can using dry paper towels.
  2. Sprinkle some baking soda over the affected area so it can absorb the oils that are starting to set onto the surface.
  3. Allow it to sit for a few hours before removing the baking soda using a soft brush.

Kiwi Saddle Soap

Kiwi Saddle Soap is a great cleaning product. While Kiwi is known for being a cheap brand for leather goods, their saddle soap works quite well. This product is very easy to use, all you need is a horse hair brush and some water and you can start lathering it directly onto the leather.

A round horse hair brush is the best type to use with this saddle soap. Simply dab it in water and lightly shake off the excess. Dab the damp brush into the saddle soap and slowly rub it in circular motions. It’s best to work in sections to avoid leaving it on the leather for too long. After you’re done with a section, wipe the soap and suds off with a microfiber cloth and move on to the next section.

The best part about saddle soap is that it not only cleans but also has ingredients that can make the leather soft and supple. Of course, if you haven’t conditioned your leather in a while, you should also condition it after using saddle soap.

Saphir Medaille d’Or Leather Lotion

Saphir will always be a great brand when it comes to leather care products. Saphir’s leather lotion is a great conditioner that comes in a pretty sizable bottle that would be enough to condition a sofa 2-3 times, meaning it would last you a very long time.

If your leather item hasn’t been conditioned in the past 4-6 months, you should use this after cleaning your item. The cleaning step is quite important as you don’t want any dust and debris scratching up your leather while you’re conditioning it.

This leather lotion is beeswax based and has lanolin as well. It also has a matte finish which is great for making leather look luxurious as shiny isn’t always better.

To use this product, simply use a small amount and massage it into the leather. A little goes a long way and you should avoid using too much. You could apply the conditioner with a cloth or your bare hands if you prefer being able to feel the leather.

Allow the leather to rest for 10-15 minutes before using it.


High-quality Italian leather items are great statement pieces that you can indulge in if you’re into luxury leather items. If you want to maintain the luxurious look of your Italian leather pieces, we have you covered. However, we won’t judge if you’re one to be rough with your leather and get them all distressed, we all enjoy leather differently.


How long does Italian leather last?

The expected lifespan of Italian leather is between 5 to 25 years depending on how often you use it and how well it’s taken care of. Since it is made from quality full-grain leather, you can expect that it will last you at least 10 years with proper maintenance. Other factors that will affect the lifespan of Italian leather also include the type of Italian leather used.

Does Italian leather peel?

If your Italian leather item is made from real full-grain leather, then peeling should not be a concern. However, if it’s made from faux leather mimicking Italian leather, then it will peel eventually. There is some Italian leather made from full-grain materials that will still peel and the problem lies in whether it’s bonded or not. If it’s bonded or glued and made from leather scraps, even if it’s full-grain leather, there is a chance that it will still peel.

Does Italian leather scratch easily?

Italian leather is a luxurious type of leather that is not made for rough or heavy-duty usage. Italian leather does get scratched easily and will show scuff marks because it does not use a protective coating on the surface. However, there is no need to panic as light scratches on Italian leather can be easily removed by gently buffing the area with a soft cloth and some conditioner.


  • Luke

    With a 14-year journey dedicated to preserving and enhancing leather goods, his unwavering passion continues to fuel his expertise. When he's not immersed in the world of leather, you can find Luke enjoying exhilarating bicycle rides or exploring nature through invigorating hikes.

  • Ralf

    Ralf is a multifaceted creative enthusiast with a deep passion for various crafting hobbies, including sewing, pottery, and the captivating world of leathercraft.