6 Things That Turn White Patent Leather Yellow

White Patent leather has a sleek clean look that makes whatever it’s used for super attractive. One major problem though is how white patent leather oftentimes becomes yellow – certain parts if not all of it.

So in this article, I did research into why white patent leather turns yellow and how to fix the ugly yellowing and I’m ready to share with you all I have found.

So, why does white patent leather turn yellow? While patent leather turning yellow may be inevitable and will naturally happen with time, there are a couple more things that may cause your patent leather to yellow and these include:

  1. Patent Leather Item Aging
  2. Dirt
  3. Using Harsh Cleaning And Conditioning Products
  4. Too Much Direct Sunlight
  5. Stains
  6. Lack of Proper Care And Maintenance

If you came for a quick answer to the above question, then there you go! But if you would want to learn more about how white patent leather yellow, how to possibly fix it, and how to prevent it, then keep reading this article.

Details On Why White Patent Leather Turns Yellow

Learning about why white patent leather turns yellow is important because you will be able to understand how the yellowing occurs, learn about how to prevent it, and possibly determine whether or not investing in another or a new white patent leather bag, shoe, belt, etc is worth it.

1. Dirt

Dirt is one of the basic things known to cause the yellowing on white patent leather and for that matter almost all light-colored patent leather items.

It’s pretty obvious dirt buildup can cause patent leather to discolor and in some cases, the resulting discoloration is going to be yellowish.

This is common with patent leather that has to see very little care after use or has been abandoned for a pretty long time without cleaning.

Any discoloration your patent leather might suffer will be obvious and show easily so you would want to clean your items as much as you can.

Cleaning your patent leather properly is a good way to stop the oxidation that happens with leather as it ages.

You would want to have a good cleansing routine to keep your leather looking great and more importantly help delay or prevent the oxidation that often results in a yellow coloring on the patent leather.   

Having a good consistent cleaning routine for your patent leather goods is important but what’s even more important is the processes you use to clean.

Always ensure the best of the best practices when cleaning your light-colored patent leather goods.

One of the very first things you will have to always do before you clean your patent leather is to remove any loose dirt or dust from the leather surface and remember to always do so very gently.

Another important thing to keep in mind is to make sure the cleaning solution you’re going to be using is diluted according to how the manufacturer of the product as instructed.

Or if it’s a home DIY cleaning solution you should obviously use the right ratios.

2. Using Harsh Cleaning And Conditioning Products

Having a good cleaning and conditioning routine is as important as using very good quality cleaning and conditioning products for your patent leather goods.

Basically, when we refer to harsh cleaning or conditioning products, these products will have cleaning and conditioning agents with pH above a neutral 5.

Patent Leather as material as robust as it is, is still vulnerable to harsh chemicals. These harsh cleaning products can cause the leather to age quickly, strip it of its essential nutrients, and in most cases lead to your patent leather yellowing prematurely.

What you would want is a cleaning or conditioning product that is neutral with pH 5. Not all saddle soaps will be good for cleaning patent leather goods.

You wouldn’t want your leather cleaner and conditioner to be very alkaline or more importantly acidic.

3. Aging of The Patent Leather Article

The reality is that white, cream or any light-colored patent leather yellowing is inevitable. It’s something that will happen as the leather ages with time.

It’s natural and most of the time it will be an indication your patent leather is of age.

A lot of those who have owned patent leather for quite some time will tell you white patent leather will yellow over time and age.

White patent leather yellow as part of its natural oxidation process. The oxidation is basically how the natural fibers of leather break down.

How this happens is due to the constant encounter of the leather with all forms of elements like the air we breathe.

In this particular instance where your leather has lived its best time, you would have two options and these will be either to let go of the patent leather item or embrace change and see it as part of the process of the leather aging.

4. Lack of Proper Care And Maintenance

Giving white patent leather enough care and maintenance will not guarantee complete prevention from yellowing.

However, paying good attention and giving white patent leather proper care and maintenance will help to drastically slow down the yellowing process of your patent leather.

Not frequently lubricating your white patent leather items with leather conditioners and leather oils make the patent leather susceptible to yellowing.

Lubricating and oiling is the first line of defense you can offer your patent leather articles. Not only is oiling important to the slowing down of the leather yellowing but also it helps to prevent the leather from drying up and cracking.

5. Constant Exposure To The Sun Rays

The harmful rays of the sun can also cause your white patent leather to turn yellow prematurely.

The way to avoid this can be as simple as keeping your which patent leather items away from the sun but in some cases, this cannot be the optimal solution.

Patent leather items like shoes, jackets, car seats, etc will see a lot of the sun’s rays no matter what.

Not only will the constant sun’s rays hitting your patent leather lead to the leather yellowing but also cause it to dry up and develop cracks.

There are a couple of products out there that offer UV protection and treatment for patent leather. A good example is the Chamberlain’s Leather Milk. You can check it out on Amazon for a list of all of its benefits for patent leather.

Another simple way to ensure your patent leather doesn’t get too affected by the sun’s UV rays is by conditioning it often.

6. Stains

The yellow stains you might be looking at and hating on your patent leather goods could have occurred due to the leather getting stained.

There are several ways patent leather can get stained. One very common but usually overlooked way is the cleaning products we often use.

Usually, the cleaning products will be the least culprit most people will consider to have caused a stain but 7 out of 10, this is going to be your number one causative factor.

So you will always want to check and see if the leather cleaner or conditioner you’re using doesn’t have any coloring effect on your patent leather goods.

Another thing that can cause yellowing to happen on your leather is using the wrong DIY cleaning solution like using apple cedar vinegar instead of white vinegar to clean your leather. Pretty basic but most people make this mistake.

While apple cedar vinegar would help you deal with mildew and odors on your leather, they are likely to leave behind stains that you will definitely not appreciate – usually a lot more obvious on light-colored patent leather materials.

One of the best home DIY cleaning alternatives that’s going to be much safer for use on your white patent leather if you need to give it a good and thorough cleaning without buying products is using a cleaning solution made of 3 parts of water to one part of white vinegar.

Using a solution made of one part of white vinegar and 3 parts of water will be safe and most likely, will not cause any coloring to your white patent leather.

A lot of people also end up staining their white patent leather by using shoe polishing to clean their leather. You definitely shouldn’t be doing that!

Another common way your white or light-colored patent leather may get yellow stains is through color transfer.

Patent leather is highly susceptible to color transfer when it’s not stored properly or when it left very close to other colored material during its storage.

You can check out my Step-by-guide on how to properly store patent leather here.

In this article, you will learn simple tricks and hacks for storing your patent leather in simple easy steps so they look new, with no deformation, or yellow staining for that matter. You will really want to check it out!


While there isn’t much you can do when your white patent leather has already started an oxidation process leading to it yellowing, there are a couple of simple things you can do to slow the yellowing appearance on your patent leather items.

In this article, I researched on 6 things that cause white patent leather to yellow.

Knowing why your patent leather is yellowing or why your patent leather will eventually yellow will help you reverse engineer the entire yellowing process.

Not to leave you hanging just knowing about all the possible things that cause white patent leather to yellow, I shared some important tips that can help slow down the yellowing process of your patent leather items.

You can practice some of these precautions and tips I highlighted in this article to ensure your white patent leather item maintains its white glow for many many years.

I hope it was useful to you in one way or another. Feel free to check out some of my other earlier articles related to patent leather.


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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