3 Reasons Why Faux Leather Gets Sticky & Easy Fix It

Why does faux leather get sticky

Have you ever had a sticky feel on your faux leather or pleather item and wondered where the sticky residue was coming from? Today I want to help you understand the major reasons why that is and how to fix it.

Faux or synthetic leather gets sticky because:

  1. The faux leather has accumulated a lot of dirts, spills, stain and oils and needs thorough cleaning
  2. Using the cleaning and conditioning products on the faux leather
  3. The faux leather item has gotten too old and the plastic coating over the surface of the faux leather is worn out

Obviously, there is more to faux leather getting sticky. To learn more, keep reading!

What is Faux Leather?

Faux leather is a synthetic leather manufactured as a substitute for real leather. They are made to look, act, and feel like real leather. It is made from synthetic materials such as polyurethane (PU), Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), Polyester Microfibers, etc.

It’s often marketed under different names such as artificial leather, synthetic leather, leatherette, vegan leather, PU leather, and of course my favorite — pleather. Over the course of this article I will be using these names interchangeably.

You can learn more about faux leather here in an earlier article I wrote.

Faux leather is a versatile material, somewhat like real leather and can be used for upholsteries, clothing, handbags footwear, wallets, bags, and many others. Faux leather is made particularly as a cheap alternative to real leather and in most cases it’s often confused with bonded leather which is a totally different material.

Related: 5 Unique Differences Between PU/Faux And Bonded Leather

Reasons Why Faux Leather Gets Sticky — Details

A few things may be at play when your faux starts getting sticky. Just like real leather, faux leather can become sticky.

1. Stains and Spills

You might have thought of this so let’s get it out of the way! This is possibly the most common cause of stickiness on faux leather so I’m going talk more about this.

Faux leathers are coated and you will find that whatever gets on them stays on it without penetrating it. It’s indeed a non porous material.

So because of the non-porous nature of synthetic leather it tend to easily accumulated stains and spills from drinks, food, and other liquid and solid substances very quickly — and when not cleaned continues to sit on the surface of the faux leather till it’s all gummed up into a serious mess.

In many cases, children and pets may be the cause of the stickiness on faux leather leather in terms of spill and stains. But in other cases, the lack of proper care, maintenance, and ensuring best practices for faux leather items can also be a major cause.

So what is going to happen is these stains and spills get on the faux leather items and not cleaned almost immediately, the liquid content of the spill or stain evaporates and leaves behind a sticky residue on the faux leather.

Now let’s take a look at how this can be remedied using very simple treatments.

How To GENERALLY Remove Stains and Spills From Faux Leather

Here’s a simple way to deal with your sticky faux leather especially if it’s caused by common stains and spills. Here are a couple of things you will need and a basic cleaning process for faux leather.

  • Water (warm)
  • 2 piece of Soft clean rag
  • Dish Soap

1. Put a few drops of the dish soap into a bowl of warm water and mix.

2. Dip your soft clean rag into the mixture and ring out to make sure it’s not soaking wet dripping all over.

3. Give the sticky faux leather a gentle thorough scrub.

4. Now use another clean rag and dampen it with ordinary water. Wipe the surface of the faux leather to remove any excess soapy substances.

5. Leave to dry as see if the stickiness persists cheers:)

How to Remove STUBBORN Stains and Spills From Faux Leather

In other instances, the stains and spills you will have on your faux leather items causing the stickiness may be some real hardcore stains that will not be easy to remove using just water and dish soap. Instead, you will need something a little more stronger on stains but a lot more gentle on the faux leather to get out stickiness.

In this case you will need to use products that can help escalate the stain removal. There are 3 basic options I find super helpful for removing stubborn tough stains and spills that cause Stickiness on faux leather.

  • The Faux Leather Cleaner Method (Highly Recommended)
  • The Isopropyl Alcohol (for stubborn stains)
  • The Acetone (for super tough stains)

The Faux Leather Cleaner Method:

I will highly recommend simply using a faux leather cleaner like this one on Amazon but will obviously cost you a little extra but will save you a lot of time and will be a lot more effective. This a great alternative for sticky stains on faux leather you cannot remove with normal water and mild soap.

Note: Don’t forget to follow the instructions on the package for maximized results.

The Isopropyl Alcohol Method:

You can also use isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) or isopropyl alcohol based cleaner if you have one at home at home. You will be able to use it to also remove stains that’s causing stickiness and here’s how you’d go about it. First, here’s what you will need:

This is relatively easy to apply. You can put a little of the alcohol on a piece of clean soft rag and apply directly on the sticky stain on your faux leather.

An important thing to take note of is that isopropyl alcohol is solvent based so when rubbing over the faux leather make sure not to apply too much pressure because these can have a negative impact on the faux leather itself.

For example, it can cause the color of the faux leather to come off. So always make sure to watch the amount of pressure you apply and remember to test out first on an obscure part of the faux leather item before applying it on the entire surface of the faux or PU leather item.

The Acetone Method:

If using above two options doesn’t quite give you the result you’re after then the acetone concoction method should certainly work magic for you to get out those super tough stains that’s causing your faux leather to be tacky.

Here’s What You’d Need

  • Acetone
  • Water
  • A piece of soft clean rag

1. Dilute the acetone with some amount of water. It should be 30 percent of acetone and 70 percent of water. For example, depending on the size of the item your cleaning (so let’s say for a stained faux leather handbag) you can take 3 spoon full of acetone and 7 spoon full water.

2. Dip your rag into the acetone solution and wipe it over the stained area that’s causing the stickiness in your faux leather. You can repeat the rubbing and the sticky tack should be gone by the 5th and 6th rub.

3. Buff the area with another clean rag.

4. Leave to air dry.

By going through these stain and spill removal treatment alternatives, you shouldn’t have any stains or spills on your faux leather that will cause it to be sticky.

2. Using Wrong/Bad Cleaner and Conditioner Products

The cleaners and conditioners often used can be another causative factor to faux leather’s stickiness. It’s often the least suspected culprit but it’s something you would definitely want to look at.

Test out the cleaner you use for your faux leather on a small section of another faux leather item you may have and notice if there’s any stickiness and if at all the sticky tack is similar to what you already have. If you find the tack to be the cause then it might be time to replace your faux leather cleaner and conditioner.

This is the kind of thing you will want to get out of your faux Leather as quickly as possible when you notice your leather has become sticky this way. What you’re going to need to counteract this is a good neutral or detergent based faux leather cleaner like this one on Amazon!

While it’s remedy will be to obviously get a great faux leather cleaner that leaves no greasy or sticky residue on the leather, it’s important to understand how this happens.

This is primarily because faux leather is a non porous material. So using the wrong cleaner and conditioners that has contaminants will stay on the surface of the faux leather and cause it to become very sticky.

In some cases, the harshness of the solvent base of the cleaning product can affect the coating the manufacturers of synthetic leathers place on the surface of the faux leather.

Related: 5 Best Non Sticky Leather Conditioners

3. Aged Faux Leather Items

About 8 out of 10, when your faux leather starts getting sticky it’s possible you will need to give it a good cleaning or simply checking whether it’s your cleaning or conditioning products that’s leaving the sticky residue. But sometimes the stickiness on your faux leather item can be an indication that your most cherish sofa has outliving it’s lifespan.

Faux leather lasts about 10-15 years and in its final years, the plastic coating or film place over the faux leather or vinyl would have worn out, exposing a sticky residue which is in most cases going to be impossible to get rid of. You would never want to hang around a Sticky faux leather because it’s simply no fun and uncomfortable.

If you’re experiencing faux leather becoming sticky as a result of aging, you can purchase a faux or vinyl leather restoring product that contains some amounts of silicon particles which can help form a new bond over the surfaces of the faux leather to try bring it back to life. Another will be to pull the trigger on it and call it a wrap! Yes, it may be time to replace the item completely.

Related Articles:

  1. Why Does Leather Feel Sticky?
  2. 7 Simple Ways To Fix Sticky Patent Leather
  3. 5 Best Non Sticky Leather Conditioners


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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