No products in the cart.

How do I clean leather or vinyl before restoration?

Many stains cannot be cleaned, but they can be concealed with a new finish.

First determine the type of material and if it absorbs water. This indicates the type of finish, the condition, and which cleaning products should be used. This video demonstrates.

Video contents:

  • 0:12 – Is the material absorbent?
  • 0:51 – Clean leather and vinyl with alcohol (including aniline, semi-aniline, top-grain, full-grain, and finished leather)
  • 1:31 – Non-absorbent, finished leather or vinyl should then be cleaned with a mild water-based degreaser like Flite®
  • 2:28 – The Tape Test for adhesion
  • 3:16 – How to deglaze a waxed finish

Cleaning Absorbent Aniline or Semi-Aniline Leather

  1. Use rubbing alcohol or denatured alcohol to remove oil and wax-based residue and pre-treat any ink. Pour the alcohol onto your rag, not the surface itself.
  2. Wipe the surface in smooth, fast strokes. The leather may temporarily darken. Don’t overscrub. Stains will not likely be cleaned but will be concealed with Rub ‘n Restore® color.
  3. Allow to evaporate and dry.
  4. Perform the tape test to check for adhesion.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 if necessary.

Cleaning Non-Absorbent Finished Leather or Vinyl

  1. Use rubbing alcohol or denatured alcohol to remove oil and wax-based residue and pre-treat any ink. Pour the alcohol onto your rag, not the surface itself.
  2. Wipe the surface in smooth, fast strokes.
  3. Allow to dry.
  4. Follow with a mild water-based surfactant and degreaser like our Flite®. Do not use caustic, antibacterial, or other leather cleaners which may leave residue.
  5. Perform the tape test to check for adhesion.
  6. Repeat steps 1-5 if necessary.

Reader Interactions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Knowledge Hub is a library of articles and videos complied to help our customers complete their DIY leather and vinyl restoration projects.