Leather is always said to age like wine but is this always the case? A well cared for leather will age like fine wine! This will always be the case if you know what you’re doing. Noticed a nasty slick shine on your leather item lately? That’s one indication your leather is aging or hasn’t gotten the TLC it needs.
While this shine may be appreciated as a quality associated with (especially) natural leather — patina, many others, like you and I, will simply want our leather items retain their natural matte for the longest time possible.
One fact that surprises most people is the notion that their leather isn’t actually supposed to be shiny or glossy. Leather by default when new or clean is actually matte in appearance without any kind of slick look to it like (unless deliberately made to have a shine) what we mostly see on most of our leather goods!
So for this article, I will show you 5 of the most effective hacks for making your leather matte again!
So how do you make leather matte again? Here are 5 simple but effective ways of making leather matte again.
- The Cleaning Wipes Method
- The Distilled Water and Microfiber Cloth Method
- The Deep Leather Cleaner and Conditioner Method
- The Rubbing Alcohol Method
- The Magic Eraser Method
Before we go into the details on how to make leather matte again, it’s important to understand what causes the leather to lose it’s matte in the first place. This is so we can reverse engineer or understand the process of getting it back to how it’s really supposed to be. Keep reading to find out more!
Why Does Leather Lose Its Matte?
There are 4 main things that cause leather to lose its matte and that is:
- Accumulated Dirt
- Body Oils
- Greasy Cleaners & Conditioners
- Burnish From Constant Use
With time, body oils, dirt, and greasy cleaning & conditioning agents will fill up the pores of the leather while the constant use of the leather item will be burnish, sealing off the surface resulting in a buildup, noticeably shiny and slick.
There’s a right way and a wrong way of remedying a leather that has lost its matte. The wrong way is:
- Conditioning without cleaning
- Cleaning with alcohol-based cleaners and
- Cleaning too excessively
But once the shiny leather is properly cleaned and conditioned, the leather will dry and return to a more natural matte state. Now here are a couple of different methods that will actually help make your leather matte again.
How To Make Leather Matte Again
As indicated before, there are a couple of ways to make leather matte again. I will present these methods from the most gentle approach to the most robust methods!
1. The Cleaning Wipes Method
You probably do not have leather wipes laying around your house but if you want a very easy and cheap alternative for cleaning and restoring the natural matte on your leather, then getting leather wipes is certainly going to be a bang for your buck.
Using cleaning wipes is a simple but a highly effective way of bringing your leather back to its original matte. The cleaning wipes you can use are specially formulated leather wipes different from most of the alcohol based wipes you would usually use around the house!
Here’s What You Need:
- Leather Cleaning Wipes
- Clean Soft Cloth (Dry)
Step 1: Take one piece of your leather wipes and wipe over the leather surface. This will remove any grease or dirt buildup on the leather and bring it to a nice matte. You can repeat this 2-3 times depending on the resulting outcome.
In some cases, you would have to repeat this method about 2-3 times a week before your leather resumes its matte look and feel again.
Step 2: Buff the cleaned leather surface with a soft dry cloth or a microfiber cloth to remove any moisture residue from the leather wipes. Some leather wipes will come with a lot of moisture content so it’s important to buff off any excess water or moisture.
Step 3: Now allow the leather to air dry! You wouldn’t want to dry the leather at this point or any point under direct sunlight. This will dry up the natural oil that allows leather to be flexible and supple. Simply put the leather in a cool dry place so it air dries.
This method is a fantastic way to keep your leather looking and feeling great all the time. The leather cleaning wipes are great for in-between deep leather cleaning and conditioning.
A good weekly use of these wipes will not only return your leathers matte but help to also keep your leather new and fresh all the time.
2. The Distilled Water and Microfiber Cloth Method
This method is probably one of the very first approaches for getting leather back to a nice natural matte.
Here’s What You Need:
- Microfiber Cloth:- These are soft cloths that will not mark or scratch the surface of the leather. Any soft clean rag you have can also be great for this purpose.
- Water:- Usually I would prefer using distilled water to avoid using water that would possibly promote mold growth. You can also warm up the water lightly. Warm water generally help get rid of dirt and grease more easily than cold water.
Step 1: Warm the water to a lukewarm temperature.
Step 2: Dampen the Microfiber cloth with the lukewarm water. Make sure the cloth is not soaking wet.
Step 3: Thoroughly wipe down the leather surface. Wipe, rinse off the cloth, and wipe about 2-3 times more. By the second or third wipe, you will see less and less dirt or grime coming off the leather.
It’s important to wipe the entire surface even if you’re experiencing the matte loss on a small section of the leather. This is to ensure there’s no watermark created on the leather.
Step 4: After this is done, you can now allow your leather item to thoroughly air dry. Voila!
This method will work especially if the matte loss has just started. And because using only water to clean the shine off the surface of your leather isn’t an intensive deep cleaning approach, you can defer conditioning immediately.
3. The Deep Leather Cleaner and Conditioner Method
The leather deep leather cleaner and conditioner alternative will probably be the most costly option for you to consider. It entails two aspects — getting the right leather cleaner & conditioner and how to use them the right way.
It’s absolutely bewildering when you browse the internet for the best leather cleaners and conditioners to use for your leather. If you have any good leather cleaners in mind, go for it, otherwise, you can go for the Lexol Leather Deep Cleaner and Lexol Leather Conditioner for this method.
Here’s What You Need:
- Deep Leather Cleaner and Leather Conditioner: You need a deep leather cleaner that’s going to reach deeper into the leather to lift off any dirt and grease that has settled and sealed off the leather causing it to loose it’s matte. And you also need a conditioner because it’s prudent to always condition leather after doing deep cleaning.
Whenever you deep clean your leather items, some of the natural oils of leather gets lost in the cleaning process so conditioning it helps to replace the oils, protect the leather and extend the life of the leather.
- 2-3 Microfiber Cloths: This is useful because you will use it to wipe down the leather cleaner after it’s application. You can also use it to apply the conditioner to your leather. From my experience, what I find to work more effectively is when you use special applicators to apply the conditioner on the leather. These applicators evenly spread any small amount of conditioner.
- Horse Hair Leather Cleaning Brush: Due to the level of dirt buildup that causes leather to lose its matte, a horse hair brush is needed to give the leather a gentle scrub. Horse hair brushes are great because they’re flexible enough to get into the surface textures of the leather and at the same time, it’s tough enough to remove the grime buildup.
- A Bucket of Warm Water: Warm water is great for breaking down dirt, grease, and oil buildup on leather.
Step 1: Thoroughly dampen the leather item that has lost it’s matte using the horse hair brush and warm water.
Step 2: After the leather is dampened, load your horse hair brush with the leather cleaner and scrub gently. These processes will help to exfoliate the dirt and oils from the leather.
If you use the lexol leather cleaner for this process, you wouldn’t have to worry about any negative effects like greasy oily look or the cleaner being too harsh — this is because lexol is pH balanced to be safe and gentle on leather no matter what.
Step 3: Now, dampened your your microfiber cloth and use it to wipe off the leather cleaner you have applied on your leather. You can rinse out your cloth and go over it again just to make sure all the cleaning substances are thoroughly removed.
Step 4: Now use a dry microfiber cloth to now clean off any excess moisture from the leather surface. This will leave the leather almost dry!
Step 5: Condition the leather you just cleaned. Put a liberal amount of conditioner on an applicator and evenly apply it over the surface of the leather item and allow it to dry.
This is surely one of the most effective ways to restore your leather to a natural matte. It’s going to be a bit pricey but will absolutely be worth every buck you spend.
I must add that the steps I have outlined in this method is a general way of using leather cleaners and conditioners to restore leather matte using lexol, however, this will work for any leather cleaner and conditioner you will pick out.
You can also double check with the specific application procedures recommended for any specific product.
4. The Rubbing Alcohol Method
Rubbing alcohol will do a great job of removing any kind of shiny spotting or hardened shiny spots on your Leather. Shiny spotting will usually become obvious after leather cleaners and conditioners have been applied.
I will highly recommend this method especially on smaller leather items like shoes, wallets, leather steering wheels, etc. and any other leather goods you’re willing to recondition. Using alcohol on leather is generally a stretch because alcohol tends to rid leather of its natural oils and so conditioning is exceptionally important after cleaning with alcohol.
Here’s What You Need:
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Microfiber Cloth or soft clean rad
- Leather cleaner and conditioner
Step 1: Put a very small amount of rubbing alcohol on the microfiber cloth and gently use it to wipe off the shine on the leather. Once you put the alcohol on your rag, you would want to apply it immediately as it dries rather fast.
Step 2: Clean and condition the leather after wiping with alcohol. You can follow the steps in cleaning and conditioning method above. The only difference is instead of using a deep leather cleaner, you can use the Lexol’s all leather cleaner.
This is because the alcohol would have done the job of deep cleaning your leather so using another deep leather cleaner will be an absolute overkill. The leather cleaner you apply is to stop and remove the alcohol reaction from the leather.
5. The Magic Eraser Method
The magic eraser is a very effective method of removing dirt and grease from leather so the leather resumes a natural matte look and feel. The magic eraser is very effective for removing all kinds of tough scuffs and dirt.
This alternative is what you would want to try out if the buildup causing the matte loss from the leather is severe.
Here’s What You Need For This Method:
- A Magic Eraser (pad) / Magic Eraser Sheet: The Magic Eraser is a cleaning pad made with durafoam. It’s solid in nature and is great for flat leather surfaces. The Magic sheets on the other hand, will work magic if you’re trying to restore the matte on leather items with hard to reach areas.
- Water: This can be ordinary tap water (warm preferably).
- Leather Cleaner: Any pH balanced product will do like this cleaner from the Chemical guys is perfect for this method.
- Leather Conditioner: Due to how much scrub the leather is going to get with this method, it’s important to recondition the leather with a good leather conditioner that’s will replace all lost oils and moisture content of the leather.
- Microfiber Cloth: You will use the microfiber cloth to wipe soapy and excess water or moisture from the leather.
Step 1: Dampen the surface of the leather with water.
Step 2: Put a few squirts of the leather cleaner on the magic eraser. Get the eraser wet with the leather cleaner.
Step 3: Now scrub gently over the leather surface. This will remove any kind of substance obscuring the natural matte of the leather.
Step 4: Dampen your microfiber cloth and wipe off the soapy residue from the leather. You can rinse it out and go over it one more time.
Step 5: Use a dry microfiber cloth and dry out the leather surface.
Step 6: Now condition the surface you just cleaned.
Step 7: Leave to air dry.