how to clean leather rugs and carpets

How to Clean Leather Rugs & Carpets

Leather rugs and carpets are typically flat-woven or shag rugs and can be as rare as they are luxurious. Some of the carpets are hair-on-hide rugs, which means they have an extra texture dimension that makes them look beautiful and unique. 

However, leather is a sensitive material that can absorb impurities easily and get dirty with general usage. As they add a luxurious and sophisticated vibe to your living room’s settings, it’s important to clean and maintain leather rugs regularly.

This article will guide you through cleaning various types of stains and marks that are typical of leather rugs and carpets. We’ll make sure to share some of the best practices that you can adopt, and also what you should avoid while cleaning these rare and beautiful pieces of decor. 

How Leather Rugs & Carpets Can Get Dirty

Just like other types of rugs, leather rugs are prone to get dirty over time, as they accumulate dust, dirt, and stains. Leather rugs in particular can be harder to clean, as leather is a sensitive and porous material. 

This means that you’re only able to use gentle and non-harmful cleaning solutions and methods to clean your leather rug. You should always clean and treat it according to the type of dirt or stain you’re trying to remove. 

There are various ways in which your leather rug may get dirty. For example, if you walk on your rug with dirty shoes or bare feet, sweat, dirt, and debris may get transferred onto the leather material. 

Accidental spills and spots from food and drinks are also tough to get out of leather carpets because the material is highly absorbent and vulnerable to damage if left untreated. Hair-on-hide leather carpets are particularly tricky to keep clean!

Here are some of the most common ways leather carpets and rugs may get strained:

  • Food & drink spills
  • Fabric (from clothing)
  • Urine (from pets)
  • Oils (from sweat or spills)
  • Dust
  • Dirt

How to Clean Leather Rugs & Carpets

Keep in mind that you’ll need to choose the right cleaning method for your leather rugs, depending on the type of stain or spill you are dealing with. Choose the right cleaning method and solution from the list below to achieve the best results. 

Cleaning Common Spills on Leather Rugs & Carpets

If you have spilled some food, coffee, juice, or tea, or a child or pet has vomited or urinated on your leather carpet, you must act quickly to protect its appearance and quality.

For any solid material sticking to the carpet, use the blunt edge of a knife to scrape it away gently in the direction of the hair. After removing all particles, make a mild soap solution using water and neutral soap (you can also use saddle soap for this).

Wipe the stain or spot with a damp cloth or sponge in the direction of the hair. Rinse the sponge or cloth frequently to remove dirty soap residue and repeat the process until the leather carpet is clean.

After the stain has been lifted, make a solution containing 5% white vinegar and 95% water. Slightly dampen a clean cloth in this solution and wipe the leather carpet to balance the pH level and remove odors. 

Add multiple books underneath and beside the damp areas of the rug so that it allows in the air for proper drying. You can also use a dedicated leather cleaner or saddle soap for this. 

For cleaning general spill stains, ensure that you use light pressure to remove them so that you don’t damage your leather rug. Food and drink stains should be easier to remove the fresher the stain is. 

Cleaning Oil-Based Spills on Leather Rugs & Carpets

If you have spilled any oils or oil-based substances on your leather rugs, such as cooking oil, grease, fat, tar, chewing gum, or lipstick, then you should try out the following methods.

Use the blunt edge of the knife and gently scrape any solid material of the spill or stain along with the hair of the carpet. After only a visible stain remains on the carpet, you should dab a small amount of Eucalyptus oil using a cloth or sponge. 

Then, use saddle soap to wipe away any persisting oils or stains along with the hair of the carpet with the damp cloth. We find Bickmore’s Saddle Soap Plus to work great on leather carpets and rugs. 

It contains lanolin and neatsfoot oil that can help to remove any type of dirt and oil-based spills. Simply use a lint-free cloth with saddle soap and clean your leather rug with gentle strokes.

Clean the cloth after it gets dirty and repeat the process until the oil-based stains have been lifted completely. Use a damp cloth afterward to remove any soapy residue from the carpet to prevent discoloration and leave to dry.

Oil-based stains can be tricky to remove on carpets, as the porous nature of leather can absorb them fairly quickly. If you aren’t able to clean it yourself, you should ask a professional for help.

Cleaning Persistent Stains on Leather Rugs & Carpets

Persistent and hard-to-remove stains on your leather carpet may arise from certain types of food (beetroot for example), wine, mustard, or other spillages that may have gotten absorbed over time or that are embedded too deeply for regular cleaning.

To clean persistent stains on a leather rug, we recommend using saddle soap. Apply the soap onto the leather carpet using a clean cloth or sponge. Let the solution penetrate the stain before wiping it away using a clean cloth. 

If that doesn’t do the trick, then use a fine horsehair brush using gentle strokes. We recommend completing the process in a well-lit area so that you can assess when the original color is restored.

General Leather Rug & Carpet Cleaning

The methods mentioned above are most effective for spot cleaning. You should follow our recommended practices if you want an effective yet easy general leather carpet cleaning method.

Take your rug outside, flip it over, and shake it until all dust and embedded particles are removed. After that, you’ll need to use a cleaning solution. For this, any leather-friendly solution can work great for the job!

We prefer using Leather Honey Leather Cleaner to clean leather rugs and carpets, as it’s a powerful cleaner that can clean away any greasy spots or stains on your leather carpet with just a single wipe.

Using a lint-free cloth, apply this leather cleaner to your rug or carpet. You don’t need to scrub or rub away at the hide hair to remove any tough stains. Allow the leather rug to completely dry before placing it back on the floor.

General Leather Rug & Carpet Conditioning

Conditioning your leather rug or carpet is an extra but highly recommended step. Conditioning can enhance its appearance and improve its durability and strength as it not only protects your leather rug but also adds a protective layer. 

After cleaning your leather carpet or rug, you can condition it using any leather-friendly conditioner. Just remember that your carpet should be completely dry before and after the conditioning process. 

Best Practices & What to Avoid When Cleaning Leather Rugs & Carpets

In this section, we’ll be sharing some of the best practices that you should follow and things that you’ll need to avoid while cleaning your leather rugs.

  • Use Only Leather-Friendly Cleaning Products – Leather is a highly sensitive material that can easily get damaged if the cleaning products are not of the correct pH value or if they have harsh ingredients. Stick to saddle soap and leather-friendly cleaning products.
  • Don’t Use a Washing Machine – Detergents are alkaline and can significantly affect the leather’s suppleness. Moreover, cleaning your leather carpets or rugs in the washing machine can ruin their shape and texture. Read more on the effects of water on leather
  • Avoid Using a Dryer – Heat can be highly damaging for leather as it can dry out the material and cause it to shrink. Let your leather rug dry naturally and use a fan if you wish to speed up the process a little. 
  • Practice Regular Maintenance – Regular dusting, vacuuming, and cleaning can keep your leather carpet in the best condition. We recommend using your vacuum cleaner’s softest bristle attachment to clean debris and dust from your leather carpet every few weeks. It is best to deep clean your leather rugs or carpets once or twice a year to ensure that they remain durable and maintain a beautiful appearance.
  • Use Professional Services If Required – If you notice a tough or tricky stain that might discolor your leather rug, you should ask a professional for help. A professional cleaning service knows how to remove the toughest stains from leather carpets and can make them look as good as new.

About Gerrit

Co-Founder, Researcher & Writer At Leatherskill

I’m a leather enthusiast who spends most of his free time crafting, researching, and writing about the many facets of this versatile material. Thanks for reading!