How do you clean a leather wallet?

It’s a bit of a trick question because there are a thousand different ways to tan leather and then craft the leather into wallets. Consequently, there are a thousand different ways to properly clean a leather wallet. The topic becomes even more complicated when you take personal preference into account! Be suspicious of most anyone on the internet that answers these questions with great confidence. Alas, without actually seeing YOUR particular leather wallet, I would not boldly give you a definitive answer. Below are some of the guidelines I would suggest for cleaning leather wallets: try them out at your own risk.

How to Clean Your Leather Wallet

Identify the type of leather you are attempting to clean.

Our full grain leather products require minimal cleaning. Because we use the highest quality leather available, the leather naturally stays supple and does not crack or tear. Read more about Full Grain Leather here. A simple wipe down with a clean cloth to remove dirt is usually all you need to keep your wallet clean. The oils from your hands will develop a beautiful patina over time. However, if hard use has taken its toll, you may want to give your wallet a little extra care. I can only tell you what product I use on the leather I have. While my suggestion has worked with great success for 47 years on smooth and certain “natural” or “naked” finishes, it will undoubtedly destroy many other types of leather. Proceed with caution!

Before I share my leather care advice, take note of the leather types for which this product is NOT suitable.

  • This does not work on a finish that is considered “nubuck.” Nubuck is a finish that has been lightly buffed or sanded to bring out a slight nap of fiber on the surface of the leather. If you use it on a nubuck finish you will destroy the look.
  • For the same reasons, do not use this product to clean suede.
  • Do not use it on artificial leathers, such as pleather, faux leather, vegan leather or other poromeric substances.
  • Do not use on leathers that have a very absorbent finish, such as naturally tanned deerhide. The leather might be too absorbent for this particular product.
1000 Types of Leather Wallets

Test a small area on your wallet first.

If you are going to experiment with cleaning your leather wallet, do so with some vague appreciation of “doing the least harm”. That is, first test your cleaner in the most inconspicuous spot. That way, any mishaps won’t be as noticeable. Use a very small amount of product on the least visible area you can find. Wait a couple days to ensure it had the desired effect. Clean the rest of your wallet when yo uare sure you like the look of it.

Follow product instructions, a little goes a long way!

My suggestion is to look for the products used for simple cleaning. They most often are some brand of “neutral shoe cream”. Be mindful, this is NOT “shoe polish,” mink oil, saddle soap, neatsfoot oil and hundreds of other products that have different and other intended uses. Neutral shoe cream is a leather conditioner that can work on smooth and lightly porous natural finishes. It is a colorless or nearly creamy substance. Shoe cream should subtly bring back the life to the finish of the leather, while permeating lightly into the surface of the leather. It can soften, clean, shine, protect and nourish the leather. Carefully follow the product directions and always test it first by cleaning a small, unseen area. Remember, a little goes a long way!

Please proceed with caution, use good judgement and most certainly don’t hold me liable in your experiments. I wish you well!