How to Clean White Patent Leather

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Patent leather has been processed to achieve a characteristic shiny, glossy look. It is commonly used to make wallets, purses, jackets and shoes. White patent leather can be a challenge to keep clean. Each tiny scuff and every bit of dirt seem to be highlighted against the snow-white background. Even with immaculate care, over time the shine of patent leather is apt to dull and the white is likely to yellow. To keep your white patent leather dirt free and gleaming, choose one of the many methods outlined in the guide below.

Things You'll Need

  • Cotton balls
  • Nail polish remover
  • Toothpaste
  • Stiff bristled brush
  • Dry cloth
  • Liquid paper
  • Bleaching pen
  • Goo Gone
  • Refrigerated biscuit dough
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Mineral oil
  • Whole milk
  • Olive oil
  • Sponge
  • Shaving cream
  • Vegetable oil
  • Commercial patent leather cleaner

Soak a cotton ball with acetone-based nail polish removal. Gently rub any scuffed areas or discolorations. Dry with a soft cloth, if necessary. Apply a thin coat of white toothpaste to the affected area by placing a dab on your index finger and rubbing the patent leather using small, circular motions. Allow the toothpaste to dry and then buff with a stiff bristled brush or dry cloth, to remove any excess. Then, brush a light coating of quick drying liquid paper over the area and let dry for 2 hours.

Remove stains or imperfections with a bleaching pen or a bit of Goo Gone stain remover. Once the stains have been removed, rub the patent leather with a piece of refrigerated biscuit dough. Dry the leather with a soft cloth and rub in a dab of petroleum jelly or mineral oil to liven up a dull sheen.

Wash the patent leather in full fat, or whole, milk. Moisten a dry cloth with the milk and rub the material with the cloth to remove any surface blemishes. Allow the leather to dry and then shine them up by applying a bit of olive oil to a cotton ball and lightly running it over the material.

Remove any dirt or debris from the material by wiping it away with a damp sponge. Allow the patent leather to dry and apply a light coating of shaving cream. Once the shaving cream has dried, eliminate any excess by rubbing the material with a tissue. Then spread a light coat of vegetable oil over the patent leather to add a glossy finish.

Purchase a patent leather cleaner from a tailor, shoe shop or shoe department of a retailer if you feel the item is too valuable to risk trying a home remedy. Buy a cleaner formulated for white, or choose the neutral variety that can then be used on other items.

Tips & Warnings

  • If one of the methods outlined above does not work for you, try another. There are many different types of patent leather on the market. What works on one may not work on the next. Through trial and error you will find the method that brings about the results you desire.

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