How To Clean Leather Without Darkening It (Free Guide!)

How To Clean Leather Without Darkening

Leather is a beautiful material that can last for years with proper care. However, it can be difficult to keep it from darkening if you don’t know how to clean it properly.

In this article, I will discuss how to clean leather without darkening it.

Here are a list of things you will need and a step-by-step guide to follow;

Things Needed To Clean Leather Without Darkening It:

  • A Good Leather Cleaner
  • Microfiber Cloth
  • Leather Conditioner (Non-Darkening Conditioner)

Leather Cleaner

As far as cleaners go, you need to pick something that is specifically designed for leather.

You want to make sure the cleaner won’t strip away any of the natural oils in your leather, which can cause it to darken over time.

Look for a product that is pH balanced and doesn’t contain harsh chemicals. Bleach, acetone, and ammonia-based cleaners should be avoided.

A simple hack for picking out a good leather cleaner is to go with well-known brands. There are a few such brands out there that are known for producing quality products.

Some of the notable ones include;

Microfiber Cloth

You will also need a microfiber cloth for cleaning. These are great for removing dirt, grime, and other debris from the surface of leather.

They also won’t scratch or damage the material as they are made from very fine fibers that are woven together to make a soft cloth.

Make sure you use a clean microfiber cloth each time you clean, and never use a cloth that has been used to clean other materials.

Microfibers are generally easy to come by; chances are you already have some at home.

Leather Conditioner (Non-Darkening Conditioner)

The last thing you will need to clean your leather without darkening is a good non-darkening conditioner.

This product helps to protect the leather from damage, makes it look better and feel softer, and prevents it from cracking or drying out.

Just like with the cleaner, you want to find a conditioner that is pH balanced and doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals.

If you want to make sure the conditioner won’t darken your leather, look for one that specifies it is non-darkening.

One of such brand to consider is Leather Honey Leather Conditioner.

Now that you have all the necessary items, here is a step-by-step guide to cleaning leather without darkening it.

How To Clean Leather Without Darkening It

Now that we know all the important things we need to clean leather without darkening, here is a step-by-step guide on how to do it.

Step 1: Dust or Vacuum the Leather

  • Before you start cleaning your leather items, make sure to dust or vacuum them first.
  • This will help remove dirt and dust particles that would otherwise interfere with the cleaner’s effectiveness.
  • In some, cases the dust, debris, or particles can react with the leather cleaner or cleaning process to darken or discolor the leather.

Step 2: Apply the Leather Cleaner

  • Once you’ve dusted or vacuumed the leather, apply a small amount of cleaner to a microfiber cloth and gently rub it onto the leather item in small circular motions.
  • Make sure not to use too much cleaner as this can make your leather look greasy and can also potentially darken it.
  • Continue rubbing the leather cleaner in until you’ve covered the entire surface.
  • Once you’re done, let it sit for a few minutes before wiping off any excess cleaner with a clean microfiber cloth.

Step 3: Apply Leather Conditioner

  • Now, this is the part most people get wrong.
  • After you’ve cleaned the leather, it’s important to apply a good conditioner.
  • This will help protect the leather from damage, make it look better and feel softer, and prevent any cracking or drying out.
  • You want to make sure to pick a non-darkening leather conditioner.
  • Apply a small amount of conditioner to a microfiber cloth and gently rub it into the leather in small circular motions.
  • Once you’ve covered the entire surface, let it sit for 10-15 minutes before wiping off any excess with a clean microfiber cloth.
  • Make sure to air-dry your leather after conditioning it.
  • Leaving the freshly conditioned leather item under direct sunlight will darken it.
  • Also, using any sort of heat source can cause the leather to dry out and crack.
  • You do not want to over-saturate the leather surface with the leather conditioner, as this can also cause the leather to become darker.
  • Simply apply very thin layers of leather conditioner and allow each layer application to air-dry before adding additional layers.

Step 4: Finishing Up

  • Once you’ve applied the conditioner, make sure to give your leather item an extra wipe-down with a clean microfiber cloth to remove any excess residues from the cleaning process.
  • This will ensure that your leather looks its best and won’t be dulled or darkened by any residues.
  • Finally, let your leather item air-dry for a few hours before using it again.

By following these steps, you should be able to clean your leather without darkening it or discoloring it in any way.

Happy cleaning!


Q: How often should I clean my leather?

A: You should aim to dust or vacuum your leather items regularly and give them a more thorough clean every 3-6 months. This will help keep it looking its best and prevent any dirt or oil build-up from damaging the leather over time.

Q: How do I know if my cleaner is non-darkening?

A: Read the instructions on your leather cleaner before using it to make sure it is non-darkening. Alternatively, you can opt for a brand that specializes in producing leather cleaning and conditioning products without darkening or discoloring.

Q: What should I do if my leather item does get darkened by a conditioner?

A: If this happens, use a leather cleaner to strip any excess conditioner from the surface of the leather. Next, get a non-darkening leather conditioner and apply very thin layers of it to the leather–allowing each layer to thoroughly air-dry before applying an additional layer. This should help restore the original color of your leather item over time.


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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