Buying a leather belt is often seen as an investment. Aside from their gorgeous textures and colors, leather fabrics make for durable fine-quality belts that can last a decade.
But while this material usually ages well, it can form unsightly creases, cracks, and molds when neglected. Thankfully, these issues are preventable if you learn how to clean a leather belt and maintain it properly by following the step-by-step instructions below!
For soiled belts, wet your soft (or microfiber) cloth with warm water, then use it to wipe the entire leather surface of the belt with extra focus on dirty areas. This should soften the dust, stains, and dirt.
Next, apply the leather cleaner to the cloth and gently rub the solution along the grain until the dirt is completely gone.
Alternatively, if you don’t have a specialized leather cleaner, you can use mild soap to wash a belt. However, note that this substitute is only applicable to cheaper leather.
With a dry microfiber or soft cloth, wipe off the excess leather belt cleaning product’s residue and moisture. This is because too much water can result in unsightly stains or streak
Apply the leather belt conditioner per the manufacturer’s instructions
Let the leather belt air dry overnight to ensure that it absorbs the product’s moisturizing properties. You can place it in front of a fan to speed the process up, but remember that you should never use heat to dry leather.
Note: You only have to wash leather belts once or twice a year. Exposing them to excessive moisture can damage the leather, as explained above.
If you see mold and mildew on your leather belt, you can still clean and restore the accessory. This strategy will be the least invasive; you should try this one before proceeding to the approaches mentioned below.
This home remedy for cleaning leather belts should be done outside to avoid contaminating your house with mold. And since molds can trigger asthma, be sure to put on your N95 mask, long-sleeved shirt, long pants, gloves, and disposable hair cover before you work.
Set up your work area and gather your brush, leather belt, and vacuum.
Brush the molds off the leather belt and vacuum the rest. Remember to discard the moldy contents from your vacuum afterward.
Find a shaded area outside and place your leather belt there to eliminate the remaining spores.
#Method 3: Use a vinegar solution
What to prepare:
While vinegar is an effective cleaner and disinfectant, remember that you should only use diluted vinegar on your leather. Otherwise, the high pH cleaning product might do more harm than good.
Mix equal parts water and white vinegar in a spray bottle and shake well. Spritz a small amount of solution in a hidden area to see if it causes discoloration.
If you don’t see any reaction, spray the mixture onto a soft cloth, dab the moldy area, or rub the leather in a circular motio
Remove the moisture with a dry cloth and leave the belt in a shaded to air dry.
#Method 4: Apply rubbing alcohol
What to prepare:
While most alcohol-based cleaners aren’t suited for cleaning leather, denatured or rubbing alcohol can be used on the material without any drastic consequences. That said, you should never pour the alcohol directly onto the belt.
Combine rubbing alcohol and warm water with a 1:4 ratio, then test the solution on a hidden area.
If you don’t see any discoloration, you can apply the mixture onto the moldy area with a cotton ball, keeping in mind not to soak the cotton.
Leave the leather belt to dry for a few minutes.
Use your fingers to scoop a bean-sized petroleum jelly and rub it on the belt.
Tips to Maintain Leather Belts
1. Eliminate odors
Good news: You can clean a smelly leather belt without using water before it is due for a deep wash!
Just put some activated charcoal, baking soda, or kitty litter in an air-tight plastic container or ziplock, and place your belt in there.
Close the container and leave your belt there for one day or as long as it takes for the smell to disappear.
2. Clean the stain ASAP
Stains can be absorbed by the leather if you leave them on. Smaller stains can be cleaned with lukewarm water. Simply gently rub a wet rag over the stain and wipe it dry with a dry cloth. For stubborn stains, you’ll need to use mild soap or leather cleaners, as shown in method #1.
3. Polish the buckles
Did you know that tarnished buckles can stain on leather? You can prevent this by polishing it with a metal polisher that is formulated for the specific material.
Besides keeping the metal shiny, it will save you from the trouble of having to remove buckle marks from leather belt!
4. Condition your belt
Leather conditioners can keep leather fabrics moisturized to help them last longer. Apart from using this product to maintain a leather belt, you can use it for other leather goods, so it’s really a good investment.
Tips to Keep Leather Belts Long-Lasting
1. Avoid wearing the same belt every day
Alternating between two leather belts or more allows each one to rest in a flat position to prevent curling.
Your leather belt has held your pants to your waist throughout your shift. Keeping it in your pants or rolling it to fit tight storage can crease the leather. The best way to store it is to take it out of the belt loops and hang it on a rack or hanger.
3. Store the leather belt in a dry location
Another way to care for a leather belt is to keep it away from moisture, heat, and humidity. If your closet is particularly humid, place a dehumidifier inside.
Knowing how to clean a leather belt without damaging it is just one part of the maintenance work. After all, you can only wash it twice a year.
That said, you don’t need to wait for the cleaning schedule to treat stains or remove molds, as they will be harder to get rid of later on. Otherwise, you will have no choice but to throw away the leather belt!
Veronica is our content editor. She is a talent in delivery. Her main work is editing and writing articles that are both informative and simple to follow. She is in charge of synthesizing our understanding of what personal protection equipment (PPE) is needed in each job, how to best apply it, and how to visualize that equipment.