5 Reasons You Should Not Clean Leather With Hand Sanitizer

Can you use hand sanitizer on your leather

In a world where we need to clean everything, it is not surprising that hand sanitizer has become the go-to product for cleaning almost anything. But what about leather? Can you use hand sanitizer on your leather items like bags, shoes, wallets, or other accessories?

Hand sanitizer is NOT the best thing to use to sanitize or clean your leather items. Hand sanitizer will usually contain over 90% isopropyl alcohol that can dry out the leather, stain the leather, and cause color fading on the surface of your leather.

Read on to learn more about why you should NOT clean your leather items with hand sanitizer.

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1. Hand Sanitizer Can Dry Out The Leather

When you use hand sanitizer on your leather items, the alcohol in it can dry out and damage the surface of your leather.

Most hand sanitizers will usually contain up to over 90% isopropyl alcohol. This can dry out the leather, making it look cracked and flaky.

If you have a leather bag or other item that you have used hand sanitizer on chances are it has already started to look dry.

The alcohol content in hand sanitizer can cause your leather to crack and flake, which will give it an unsightly look.

So if you want to prevent your expensive leather products from drying out, flaking, and cracking then you should not use hand sanitizer on them.

2. Hand Sanitizer Can Stain The Leather

When you use hand sanitizer on your leather items, the alcohol in it can also stain and damage the surface of your leather.

The alcohol in hand sanitizer can cause it to dry out and damage the surface of your leather, but if you do not act fast enough then it can also stain your leather.

The alcohol combined with the essential oils and gels in hand sanitizer works great for killing germs and bacteria, but when combined with the surface of your leather it can cause serious discoloration and staining.

As we all know, hand sanitizers are designed to kill viruses, bacteria, and germs, and this can make them very harsh on the leather.

3. Hand Sanitizer Can Leave A Sticky Residue

Hand sanitizers usually contain gels and essential oils which leave a residue of their own. When you use hand sanitizer on your leather items, the essential oils and gels in it can leave a sticky residue on the surface of your leather.

The essential oils and gels in hand sanitizers are designed to kill germs, but they can leave a residue of their own.

After using hand sanitizer on your leather items there is a chance that it may have left a sticky residue on the surface.

If you do not clean off that sticky residue then it can turn into a stain and cause damage to the leather.

4. Hand Sanitizer Can Darken Leather Items

Hand sanitizers with other carrier ingredients like essential oils and gels can cause your leather items such as gloves, shoes, etc to darken when you apply them to them.

Essential oils and gels are great carriers that have fragrance and moisturizing properties that make the entire process of keeping out germs, bacteria, and viruses a pleasurable one.

These carriers do not only act as great carriers for the alcohol but can also cause the darkening of leather items like gloves, shoes, etc.

If you want to clean your leather items but do not want them to darken, then you should use other cleaners on them.

You should avoid using hand sanitizer on your leather items. Not only does the alcohol in it dry out and damage them, but you can also stain your leather with its gels and essential oils.

5. Hand Sanitizer Can Cause Color Fading

Hand sanitizer can strip the color and protective coatings on your leather items, causing them to fade.

If you use hand sanitizer on your leather goods that have dyes in them, it can go into the leather and break down its dyes causing the leather color to fade or discolor.

This is usually due to the alcohol content in the hand sanitizer. It is important to add that this is not something that will happen with one application, but this is something that could happen over a period of time with constant application of the hand sanitizer.

The alcohol content in hand sanitizers is usually at least 90%, and this can cause the color of your leather to fade.

6. Shortens The Life Of The Leather

As you have read so far, using hand sanitizer will affect the leather negatively both in the short term and long term.

Overall, using hand sanitizer on your leather items will shorten the life of your leather products.

The harsh ingredients found in hand sanitizers that are responsible for killing bacteria and viruses can cause damage to your expensive leather items, and will ultimately shorten the life of your leather.

Why Does Leather Easily Get Damaged By Hand Sanitizer?

There are a few reasons why leather is susceptible to hand sanitizer damage. Some of the main reasons why that hand sanitizer can damage leather are;

Leather Is A Porous Material

Leather is a porous material by nature, and that is what makes it so beautiful. It has tiny little pores on its surface through which the leather breaths and releases all of its damaging oils.

This is why leather is one of the most breathable material options available. But this also means that the leather can be easily affected by anything including hand sanitizer.

Leather absorbs anything that comes into contact with it. Meaning that the leather will absorb the rubbing alcohol and other ingredients directly into its fibers through its pores to cause damages.

How To Safely Sanitize Your Leather Items

There are a few steps that you can take to keep your leather surface such as leather car seats, leather bags, leather wallets, leather gloves free from viruses like the Coronavirus, germs, etc.

The first rule of thumb is to avoid using hand sanitizer or any other cleaners containing alcohol on your leather. It is definitely much safer for your leather to use a cleaner that does not contain alcohol.

So, here is the safest way to sanitize your leather items without ruining them;

Sanitizing Leather Using Soap And Warm Water

Using soap and warm water is one of the best ways to sanitize your leather items without damaging them.

The way you do this is quite simple;

Things Needed:

  • A bucket of room temperature water
  • Dish soap or hand-made soap with natural ingredients
  • A soft cotton cloth and a sponge
  • Disposable gloves

Procedure:

Step 1:

  • Start by wearing disposable gloves and nose mask.

Step 2:

  • Brush or vacuum the surface of the leather item to remove any dust or dirt particles.
  • If you’re going to be using a brush, make sure it is a soft bristled brush to avoid scratching the surface of the leather.

Step 3:

  • Put the leather item in the bucket of water and add a few drops of dish soap or than
  • Take the water and add a few drops of dish soap into it and mix them together until you get a soapy water solution.

Step 4:

  • Wet the sponge with the soapy water and squeeze out any excess soap from it.
  • Avoid using too much foam and too much water.

Step 5:

  • Now begin to scrub the surface of the leather item with the sponge.
  • Make sure to be gentle so that you do not scratch the surface of the leather.
  • Repeat this process once more to ensure that the entire surface of your leather item is cleaned.

Step 6:

  • Rinse thoroughly with warm water from the bucket.

Step 7:

  • Clean off excess water from your leather item with a soft cotton cloth and leave it to air-dry.

Step 8:

  • Apply you leather conditioner and allow the leather to air-dry one more time before use.

Step 9:

  • You can now dispose of any gloves and any other disposable personal protective equipment (PPE) used for cleaning process.

Step 10:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water. Make sure to do so for 20-30 seconds. Wash any clothing worn during cleaning and disinfecting in warm or hot water.

How Do You Safely Clean Hand Sanitizer From Leather??

It is extremely important that you remove hand sanitizer from your leather items as soon as possible.

The longer the hand sanitizer stays on your leather items, the more damage it will cause to its surface.

Using Leather Cleaner Or Mild Dish Soap

If the hand sanitizer stain is relatively fresh, you can use a leather cleaner to remove it.

Things Needed:

  • Microfiber Cloth
  • Leather Cleaner

Procedure:

Step 1:

  • Start by blotting as much of the stain away with a clean microfiber cloth.
  • If the hand sanitizer stain is still wet, you can use any old rag or paper towel to blot the stain.

Step 2:

  • Apply leather cleaner onto a clean microfiber cloth and then rub it into the stained area.
  • If you’re using mild dish soap, put 2-3 drops of dish soap into water.

Step 3:

  • Make sure to rub the leather cleaner into the stained area in an up and down motion. This will help lift any dirt, grime and hand sanitizer from the leather surface.
  • Repeat this process until the stain is removed completely.

Step 4:

  • Once done, apply leather conditioner to your leather surface and leave it to air-dry.

Over-saturating The Leather With Leather Conditioner

One of the best ways to remove a hand sanitizer stain that has been on the leather for some time is to apply multiple thin layers of leather conditioner on the leather and remove the excess conditioner after each layer.

Applying multiple layers of leather conditioner on your leather item will help loosen the hand sanitizer from its surface.

Things Needed:

  • All you need to do this is a clean, soft cloth or sponge
  • Leather conditioner

Procedure:

Step 1:

  • Start by wiping off any debris, dust, or dirt from the surface of your leather.

Step 2:

  • Put a liberal amount of leather conditioner on your applicator microfiber cloth or sponge and start to condition the surface of the leather surface with the hand sanitizer stains.
  • Make sure you apply it as evenly as possible on the entire surface of the leather item.

Step 3:

  • Continue to apply very thin layers of the leather conditioner and allow each application to dry.
  • Continue doing this until you notice the stain has become saturated by the leather conditioner application.

Step 4:

  • Brush or wipe off any excess leather conditioner and allow your leather item to dry completely.

Note that you need to test this method on an inconspicuous part of the leather item before using it on the entire surface of the leather as this process is going to significantly darken the surface of the leather item. So if you want to avoid this, try using another method.

Final Thoughts

It is clean using hand sanitizer to clean leather items is a complete no-no.

Hand sanitizer is a mixture of ethanol and other harsh chemicals. These ingredients can cause serious damage to the surface of your leather item.

Also, the longer you leave hand sanitizer on your leather items, the more damage it will cause to its surface.

So if you want to remove hand sanitizer stains from your leather item, you need to take quick action.

To do this, try using either mild dish soap or leather cleaner. Just make sure to apply it in an up and down motion on the stained area for best results.

Kwabena

Hi! I’m Kwabena, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leathercraft enthusiast and I’ve been that for almost 13 years now. I'm excited to share my experiences and all the new stuff I learn each day about leather craft, leather cleaning & care, and everything in-between!

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