How to Clean and Care for Faux Leather Clothing

caring for faux leather

The Spruce / Ana Cadena

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 30 mins - 1 hr
  • Total Time: 4 hrs - 1 day
  • Skill Level: Beginner

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's usually easy to clean. Most faux leather is made from plastic or vinyl that can be washed with mild soap and water. Even faux leather garments that have linings can often be cleaned at home.

Before you begin, take a moment to read the care label, as some linings may not be machine washable. If you are unsure, consult a dry cleaner. You can often hand-wash the garment at home.

Here we walk you through how to wash faux leather pieces at home, including your favorite jacket or pants.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Microfiber cloth
  • Washing machine or large sink for hand-washing
  • Iron
  • Pressing cloth
  • Soft cloth (optional)
  • Cotton swab (optional)


  • Warm water
  • Gentle detergent
  • Baby, olive, or coconut oil
  • Isopropyl alcohol (optional)
  • Baking soda (optional)


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
items for removing stains from faux leather clothing

The Spruce / Ana Cadena


  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, put a tiny amount of gentle detergent on the cloth, and lightly scrub the stain.


    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 it from becoming larger. When the stain is removed, wipe the area with a cloth dipped in plain water.

    wiping stain from faux leather

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  2. Hand-Wash or Machine-Wash?

    Faux leather jackets, leggings, or skirts can usually 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.

    placing the faux leather garment in a mesh bag

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  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.

    filling the sink with water

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  4. Select a Gentle Detergent

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

    selecting a detergent to use

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  5. Turn the Garment Inside Out

    Faux leather is usually the most soiled on the inside of the garment due to 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 the interior surface easily.

    turning the garment inside out

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  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.

    selecting a delicate cycle

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  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.

    rinsing the garment in cool water

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  8. Air-Dry Faux Leather

    Never place faux leather in the 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. Frequently turn items that are dried flat. To speed drying time, wipe down the garment with a soft, absorbent microfiber cloth.

    air-drying faux leather

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  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, prevent cracking and peeling, and help remove wrinkles.

    conditioning faux leather

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  10. Treating Excessive Wrinkles

    Most of the time, wrinkles in faux leather will smooth 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.


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

    ironing faux leather

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena