Raise your hand if you have at least one product in your homemade of faux-leather. I guess you have raised your hand already.
Though all of us despairs of all the things being made of plastic and are super aware of concerns regarding sustainability in fashion, we still have a ton of products that are made of faux leather in our cupboards and home – shoes, jackets, purses, handbags, accessories, pants, vests, skirts and upholstery. All these fake leather products are basically plastic embossed with grains similar to leather, layered on top of cheap leather or fabric.
I can tell you one thing for sure – In terms of durability there is no comparison between leather and Fake leather. The false leather damages very fast unlike real leather which it is trying real hard to imitate – it does just about everything that you do not want from a durable fabric- peeling, discoloring, staining, tearing, cracking etc.
How to deal with these problems. Here are the common questions asked about faux leather care.
FAQ 1 How to clean your faux leather item on a daily basis?
Faux leather can be cleaned with water unlike leather. You can even toss it into washing machine in a delicate cycle if everything else is alright – like no color transfer problem or hardware that needs extra care etc. Put into a mesh bag to prevent damage to the surface. Do not wash too often, though.
You cannot put the faux leather into a dryer, at any cost. Hang to dry away from sunlight.
First, dried food spills, dust particles, everything else that is stuck on it should be brushed off before any wet cleaning.
If it is not a washable item like a sofa cover, it should be cleaned with a damp cloth every once in a while. You can dip the clean cloth in a solution of warm water and a little baby shampoo or dish washing liquid and wipe. Work one area at a time and then rinse and then go to the next section. Use only soft cloth for wiping – abrasive cloths will leave marks.
A faux leather upholstery can be vacuumed before you do any wet cleaning.
A good leather conditioner need to be applied every 6 months to prevent damage. You can also wipe the item with a soft cloth dipped in a little unscented baby oil or Petroleum jelly. This will naturally condition the surface and make it shine. A good faux leather protective treatment will add a thin protective layer to the surface so that the surface is easier to clean.
If the item you have has a polyurethane coating do not use oils or waxes. No dry cleaning as well. The solvents used will destroy the plastic coating.
FAQ 2 How to remove spots and stains from faux leather ?
When you see stains on your favorite faux leather item the natural feeling is panic. But do not panic, not yet anyways. Never use harsh chemicals or solvents or paint removers or bleach on stains on fake leather.
If you have an expensive false leather upholstery or clothing use a professional faux leather cleaner to clean it. Do not skimp on that. This will usually remove small stains.
Oil based stains like lipstick, crayon, oil are difficult to remove – just stay away from them and clean immediately if you see such stain.
Before using any liquid cleaner on false leather ensure that it is dust free. Remove any dust settled on the item with a dry cloth. Then use the cleaning solution. Work in a circular motion over the surface. If the stain is on the surface, this will remove the stain. Use as mentioned on the bottle.
For ink stains, spray an alcohol based solution or perfume on the stain and wipe immediately.
Whatever stain remover you use, remove traces of it completely by wiping it thoroughly.
FAQ 3 How to repair peeling faux leather ?
Peeling usually happens when the item you have bought has been wrongly stored ( in the shops or in your wardrobe) or is very old or when the surface has been in contact with something which it shouldn’t have been, like heat, extreme cold, acid, perfume etc
There is really no solution to peeling. When it has started to peel it will continue peeling till the whole thing is a mess.
If it is a small area, you can patch the place if you have an extra piece. But if the faux leather is old it will continue to peel from other areas too.
FAQ 4 How to get wrinkles out of faux leather?
Wrinkles can appear due to wrong usage and storage – storing things in a cramped place and leaving it there for some time is a surefire way to get wrinkles in faux leather. And when you try to remove it by hand it is just not possible. You also cannot iron faux leather on the surface. Because heat can damage the surface beyond repair. Remember this is plastic you are dealing with.
It is not a very difficult to remove the wrinkles from faux leather. There are 3 ways you can try. One is to just hang it somewhere free so that the wrinkles straighten themselves out. Or else press with a mildly hot iron from the back with a dampened towel as a buffer. The dampness and mild heat will straighten the wrinkles. Or use your blow dryer for about 30 seconds – most of the thin wrinkles will disappear this way. Remember about too much heat and faux leather damage.
Do not store in cramped places – the wrinkles will set and will never go away.
FAQ 5 How to prevent Faux leather from cracking and tearing?
Cracking happens when faux leather becomes dry and as a result brittle. This is usually due to poor quality of faux leather or lack of moisture.
You can apply a professional conditioner regularly to prevent this and to make it soft and supple. This will act as a protective layer and will prevent cracking. Look for Vinyl conditioner or Faux leather conditioner.
If tears do appear try to get a faux leather repair kit. It involves using a type of glue (colored to match the item) to repair the tear.Or use patches to cover the tear.
FAQ 6 How to water proof faux leather ?
Faux leather is already water resistant, because of the tough layer of plastic it already has.
But if you have a fake leather item that will constantly be exposed to water (otherwise do not bother) you can use a water repellent spray – you can use a Fluorocarbon based spray (Scotch guard or Teflon) or silicon spray. Both prevent water damage. Use these sprays with caution especially on light colored faux leather.
FAQ 6 How to remove water stains from faux leather?
Buff out the water stains with a soft cloth dipped in some rubbing alcohol or baby oil.
FAQ 8 How to get rid of the chemical smell of faux leather?
You can dampen a cloth and dip it in some vinegar solution (mixed with water) and wipe the item with it. The nasty smell of vinegar will dissipate soon enough and take away the chemical smell with it.
FAQ 9 How to deal with discoloration in faux leather ?
You can try to dye it again. Because the discolored item is as good as gone, you may try to re-dye it – it is a 50-50 chance that it will restored. You can use a suitable fabric dye for this.
FAQ 10 How to make faux leather durable?
Faux leather is usually durable and abrasion resistant. PU (Polyurethane) Leather has a coating of polyurethane which is a good protection against all elements. But rough usage, exposure to heat, Sun light and water and improper storage in damp conditions can damage faux leather. So that is the first thing.
Then you can use Faux leather conditioners available in shops to condition every once in a while (twice a year). This can make the surface durable. Do not use leather conditioners /leather wax on PU leather as oil in them can damage the coating.
Whatever you use, first test on an inconspicuous place like the inside hem of a pant etc.
Never rub or stretch the pleather as you clean it.
If you need to press with iron, Press from the back, using a pressing cloth in between.
Overall follow all the precautions given in this post on stain removers if using any type of home remedies to remove stains from faux leather.
Reference : How to clean practically anything : Consumer report books.
Related post : How to sew with Pleather/faux leather.