How do you clean your patent leather shoes and handbags? My advice: if you have a well-stocked kitchen cupboard, you don’t need to bother with commercial patent leather cleaners.
I originally shared this how-to on the blog five years ago, and was recently reminded of it when a Miss Thrifty reader called June emailed asking how to clean a “sticky” patent leather handbag purchased from a charity shop.
All you need is a little olive oil and a couple of soft cloths! Dip a cloth in the oil and rub it over the shoes or bag. Leave for 20 – 40 minutes, then wipe off with a clean cloth. This cleans the leather, keeps it from cracking or scuffing – and costs practically nothing.
This has always worked a treat for me, for cleaning patent leather shoes, boots and handbags. Here is a turn-up though: when June tried olive oil cleaner, on my advice, it didn’t work! The bag was still sticky. This puzzled me, just because olive oil works so well. Looking around fashion forums, however, I note that “sticky” patent leather is a known issue: apparently the glue can degrade over time, if the item is stored in an extremely humid environment.
If you have sticky patent leather on your hands and olive oil does nothing, you may have to write your patent leather off as spoiled, but according to the forums there are a couple of tried-and-tested cleaning solutions you should try first. You can watch and wait: leave the item for a while, to see if it dries out by itself. Or you can try white vinegar. The use of nail polish remover is also recommended, but that stuff is (literally) paint stripper, so I’d only use it as a last resort.
UPDATE: Thanks to Miss Thrifty readers Julie (below) and Carol, who got in touch to say that Vaseline is also a good fix. Use it as you would the olive oil. Worth a go!
Image credit: Beth Georgette.