When it comes to leather, there are a lot of misconceptions about what you can and cannot use on it. One of the most common questions I get is whether or not dish soap can be used on leather.
The answer? It depends. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of using dish soap on leather, as well as some alternative methods you can try. First of all, what is dish soap?
What Is Considered Dish Soap?
Dish soap is a type of detergent that is specifically designed to clean dishes. Dish soap is usually made up of surfactants, which are substances that reduce the surface tension between two liquids or between a liquid and a solid.
Dish soap is often used in conjunction with water to remove grease and food residue from dishes.
In addition to being effective at cleaning up after meals, dish soap can also be used for other purposes such as washing clothes or even removing stains from fabrics.
So to sum it up, dish soap is primarily made for cleaning dishes. However, you can use it for other purposes such as washing clothes or removing stains from fabrics.
Dish Soap vs Leather Cleaner – What’s The Difference?
Before we dive into the pros and cons of using dish soap on leather, it’s important to understand what makes it different from other cleaners you may use around your home or car.
For starters, dish soap is typically made up of surfactants that are specifically designed to break down grease. A typical dish soap will have a pH level between 11-12, which means it’s highly alkaline and can be used on most types of cookware without causing damage.
Similar to dish soap, leather cleaners are also made up of surfactants that break down grease and dirt on the surface of your leather product.
But unlike dish soaps which have a pH level between 11-12, most leather cleaners fall into the pH neutral range with levels at or below seven (the lower the pH number, the more acidic it is).
In addition to having different pH levels, dish soap and leather cleaners also have different ingredients.
While dish soap typically contains surfactants and other chemicals that are effective at breaking down grease and food residue, leather cleaners often contain natural ingredients such as beeswax or neatsfoot oil which help to nourish and protect the leather.
So now that you know a little bit more about dish soap and leather cleaners, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using dish soap on leather.
The Pros Of Using Dish Soap On Leather
Now let’s begin with the pros of using dish soap on leather:
1. Dish Soap Is Gentle On The Skin
One of the first benefits of using dish soap to clean leather is that it is gentle on the skin. If you have sensitive skin like mine, you know how important this can be.
The reason dish soap is so gentle on the skin is that it does not contain any harsh chemicals that could irritate your hands or other parts of your body.
Additionally, most types of dish soap are hypoallergenic which means they won’t cause an allergic reaction even if used frequently.
Another benefit of using dish soap to clean leather is that it doesn’t leave behind any harmful chemical residue, which makes it ideal for people with sensitive skin or allergies.
This makes dish soap a great option for cleaning leather products that are sensitive or prone to irritation.
2. Dish Soap Does Not Clog Leather Pores
Another important benefit to using dish soap on leather is that it does not clog its pores. Leather as a material has tiny pores that allow it to breathe.
If you use any cleaner that is not pH neutral or that is chemical-heavy, it can cause the leather’s pores to close up and prevent them from breathing. This will eventually lead to your leather product cracking, fading, or becoming brittle.
For example, sometimes, when cleaning leather products with cleaners that contain large amounts of waxes and polishes, these harsh chemicals can leave behind a residue which then gets into the pores of your leather and causes them to become clogged.
Dish soap won’t clog pores because it doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals or waxes. As a result, your leather will continue to breathe and be able to “live longer” without cracking, fading, or becoming brittle over time like some other cleaners.
3. Dish Soap Can Remove Stains From Leather
As far as regular everyday stains are concerned, dish soap is a pretty effective cleaner.
This is because dish soap is designed to break down grease and food residue, which are two of the most common types of stains that can occur on leather products.
In fact, dish soap can often safely remove these types of stains better than most specialized cleaners. So if you want an effective cleaning solution for your day-to-day stains and dirt, dish soap is a good option.
4. Dish Soap Can Help Remove Grease And Oil Stains
As mentioned a couple of times already, dish soap is a great cleaner for grease and oil stains.
This is because dish soap contains surfactants and other chemicals that are specifically designed to break down grease and dirt.
As a result, if you have a leather product that has grease or an oil stain, using dish soap can be one of the best ways to remove it if you do not have any other specific cleaning products on hand.
Just be sure to test the dish soap in an inconspicuous area of the leather product first to make sure that it will not cause any damage.
Once you have tested it and are confident that it will not harm the leather, you can proceed to use it to clean the grease or oil stains.
5. Dish Soap Can Help Remove Mold And Mold Spores
Another important thing to note about dish soap is that it can help remove mold and mold spores. This is because the soap contains chemicals that break down organic matter like mold.
Mold can grow on leather and cause damage over time especially if the right conditions are present. Mold will not only make the leather look nasty but can even cause it to rot away completely.
If you find mold on your leather goods and you do not have any special mold remover, do not panic. You can remove it in a few simple steps using some dish soap mixed together in water. All you do is follow these steps:
- You will need to mix up the dish soap and water together in a container. The ratio should be about one part soap for every ten parts of water.
- Once you have made this mixture, then it is time to apply it to the leather. You do this by using either an old toothbrush or a rag.
- Make sure to spread the mixture evenly over the entire surface of the leather.
- Leave it on for about 5 minutes, and then rinse off with warm water.
- If you have a heavy mold infestation, then you may need to repeat these steps a few times.
- Make sure to condition the leather and thoroughly dry it after cleaning it.
Overall, dish soap is an excellent and affordable way to remove mold from leather.
6. Dish Soap Is A Cheap Alternative To Leather Cleaners
Lastly, dish soap is a cheap alternative to leather cleaners. Leather cleaners can be expensive, and if you are on a tight budget, using dish soap as your go-to cleaner can be a great way to save some money.
You can spend an average of $15 on a quality leather cleaner, or you can spend about $0.50 on a bottle of dish soap.
So if you are looking for an affordable and effective way to clean your leather goods, dish soap is definitely the way to go.
Just make sure that you test it in an inconspicuous area of the leather product before using it to clean any stains or dirt.
The Cons Of Using Dish Soap On Leather
Let’s now move on to the cons of using dish soap on leather.
1. Dish Soap Strips The Essential Oils From Leather
The first con you will notice about using dish soap on leather is that it strips away the essential oils from the surface of the leather.
This means that over time if you continue to use dish soap as your go-to cleaner, your leather product will start to look dry and brittle. This will especially be the case if you do not get have the habit of conditioning your leather items after cleaning.
This is because there is no conditioning oil or wax in dish soap so it will not add anything to the leather’s surface.
It is important to note that dish soap can be used as a leather cleaner, but it should not be your only line of defense. You should always use a conditioner afterward to help replenish the oils that were stripped away.
2. Dish Soap Is Not pH Neutral, Which Means It Can Harm The Leather
Another con of using dish soap on leather is that it is not pH neutral. This means that it can potentially harm the leather if used in high concentrations or dish soap or over a long period of time.
Unlike leather cleaners or saddle soap that is specially formulated to the right pH level, dish soap is not.
So if you are using dish soap as your only line of defense against leather mold or dirt, it can be very harmful to the leather in the long run.
It is important to always mix dish soap with (warm) water before applying it to the leather and never use it undiluted. This will help reduce any potential damage to the leather.
Lastly, you should always spot test any new cleaner on an inconspicuous area of the leather before using it. This will help you see if there is any negative reaction between the dish soap and your particular type of leather product.
This is especially important if your item was dyed or has a painted finish because these elements can be harmed by dish soap.
Note: It is important to note that dish soap should never be used as the only cleaner and conditioner for your leather goods. It should always be used in conjunction with a quality leather conditioner.
3. Dish Soap May Not Remove All Types Of Stains From Leather
Third, dish soap may not remove all types of stains from leather. This is because dish soap is a degreaser and it is not specifically made for cleaning leather.
So if you are looking to remove a tough stain from your leather product, then dish soap might not be the best option.
You would be better off using a professional leather cleaner that is formulated specifically to remove stains from leather.
In addition, it is important to note that not all dish soaps are created equally and some may work better at removing certain stains than others.
So if you want to make sure your dish soap will work with the stain on your particular type of leather product, then you should test it out in an inconspicuous area before using it.
So overall, dish soap is a great all-around cleaner for leather products. As you can see the advantages of using dish soap on leather outweigh the disadvantages.
It can remove most everyday stains and dirt, as well as mold and mold spores. It is also a cheap alternative to specialized leather cleaners. Just make sure to test it in an inconspicuous area first and never use it undiluted.
However, if you have a stain that will not come off with dish soap, then you should use a specialty leather cleaner instead.
I hope this article was helpful to you! If so, please share it with others who might find it useful as well.