How to Clean and Care for Faux Leather Clothing

Black faux leather jacket

 Tarik Kizilkaya/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

Whether you choose faux leather for the sake of fashion, your beliefs in animal rights, or because the price is usually lower than natural leather, you'll be pleasantly pleased to find it is usually easy to clean. Most faux leather is made from plastic or vinyl that can be cleaned with mild soap and water. Even those garments that are lined can be cleaned at home.

Before you begin, take time to read the care label. While the faux leather is easily cleaned, some lining may not be machine washable. If you are unsure, consult a dry cleaner. You can often handwash the garment at home.

How to Wash Faux Leather Clothes
Detergent Gentle detergent
Water Temperature Cold to warm
Cycle Type Delicate or hand wash
Drying Cycle Air-dry
Special Treatments Condition to prevent cracking
Iron Settings Low

Project Metrics

There are a few factors to keep in mind before washing faux leather.

Work Time: 30 minutes to 1 hour

Total Time: 4 to 24 hours

Skill Level: Beginner

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • Warm water
  • Gentle detergent
  • Baby, olive, or coconut oil

Tools

  • Microfiber cloth
  • Washing machine or large sink for hand washing
  • Iron
  • Pressing cloth

Instructions

  1. Inspect the Garment for Stains

    Most stains can be removed from faux leather with just a microfiber cloth dampened with warm water. For difficult-to-remove stains, use a tiny amount of a gentle detergent on the cloth and lightly scrub the stain.

    Tip

    To remove ink or dye transfer stains on faux leather, blot the area with a bit of isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) on a soft cloth or cotton swab. Work from the outside edge of the stain toward the center to prevent the problem from becoming larger. When the stain is removed, wipe the area with a cloth dipped in plain water.

  2. Hand Wash or Machine Wash?

    Faux leather jackets, leggings, or skirts can be hand washed or machine washed. The key to success is using the correct water temperature, detergent, and gentle agitation. If you choose to machine wash the garment, place it in a mesh laundry bag for extra protection and reduce the speed for the final spin cycle to reduce wrinkling.

  3. Use Cool or Warm Water

    Set the washer or fill the sink with cool to warm water. Never use hot water which can cause the faux leather to become misshapen or even melt.

  4. Select a Gentle Detergent

    A mild detergent is best for faux leather. If hand washing, add the detergent to the water and swish around so it distributes evenly.

  5. Turn the Garment Inside Out

    Faux leather is usually the most soiled on the inside of the garment from body oils. Whether machine washing in a mesh bag or hand washing, turn the garment inside out so that the detergent and water solution can reach every interior surface easily.

  6. Gentle Agitation

    If hand washing, swish the garment through the water and squeeze gently. Allow it to soak for five minutes. In a washer, select the delicate cycle and reduce the spin speed for the final cycle.

  7. Use a Cool Water Rinse

    Rinse any hand-washed garments in cool water until no suds remain. Excessive detergent left on the faux leather can cause it to stiffen and crack. Do not wring. Always use a cold water rinse in the washer. Do not add any fabric softener.

  8. Air-Dry Faux Leather

    Never place faux leather in a tumble dryer. Hang jackets inside out on a sturdy hanger and allow them to drip dry. Skirts and pants can either be hung or dried flat on absorbent towels. Drying can take up to 24 hours. Turn items frequently that are dried flat. To speed drying time, wipe down the garment with a soft, absorbent microfiber cloth.

  9. Condition With Oil

    When the garment is dry, use a tiny amount of baby, olive, or coconut oil on a soft cloth to condition the faux leather. This will keep the faux leather supple to prevent cracking and peeling and helps remove wrinkles.

  10. Excessive Wrinkles?

    Most of the time, wrinkles in faux leather will fall out during the drying process. If a garment is excessively wrinkled, turn the garment inside out. Place a pressing cloth over the garment and use the lowest heat setting on the iron to remove wrinkles. Do not leave the iron in one spot for too long or melting will occur. This cannot be repaired.

    Tip

    Faux leather can develop or hold onto tough odors like cigarette smoke, perspiration, or cooking odors. But these are simple to remove with some time and baking soda.

    Sprinkle dry baking soda over the inside and outside of the garment. Place it in a large sealable plastic bag or tub and wait 24 hours. Remove the garment and brush away the baking soda. Remove any final traces with a soft cloth dampened with plain water. Repeat if odors remain.