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Do Not Use Hair Spray to Clean Leather

Hair spray has always been a favorite fix-all among old wives’ tale believers. It has been hailed as a solution for stain removal and stopping runs in tights and is now used to remove stains from leather couches, leather chairs, leather sofas, and anything else.

While many of the ladies here at Fibrenew insist that it works wonders on stocking runs, we are all 100% in agreement that you should NEVER try using it on leather.

a man panics after hair spray damages his leather car seats

In the world of quick fixes and DIY solutions, many unconventional methods have gained popularity due to their perceived convenience. One such method that has surfaced is using hair spray to remove stains from leather surfaces.

Although this might seem like an ingenious hack, it is essential to understand why this practice should be avoided.

There are several other home remedies and wives’ tales about using home products on leather.  We do not advise using:

This article will explore why hair spray is not suitable for cleaning leather furniture, the potential damage it can cause, and safer alternatives for maintaining the pristine condition of leather items.

The composition of hair spray

Hair spray is designed to keep hair in place, not clean surfaces. Its primary ingredients include polymers and solvents. Polymers, such as polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP), give hair spray its firm hold characteristics.

Solvents, typically alcohol-based, ensure these polymers are distributed evenly but evaporate quickly once sprayed. When applied to leather, these chemicals do not act as cleaning agents. Instead, they can react with the leather’s finish, leading to deterioration and damage over time.

Two main reasons to avoid hair spray

  1. A lot of hair spray contains alcohol, and rubbing alcohol damages the surface of all types of leather upholstery—even if only a small dab.  While you may not see the damage right after you spray it on, you will notice that it breaks down the leather’s ability to protect itself from damage down the road.  This is especially true for fully-finished leather.
  2. Hair spray is always going to leave your leather feeling a little sticky.  You might think of this as a minor nuisance and wait for it to wear off, but the truth is that “just a little sticky” is actually more problematic than you might think.  The hair spray residue will attract little tiny pieces of dirt and dust that you might not be able to see with the naked eye.  This will cause abrasion as people move around on your upholstery, breaking down the protective topcoat on fully-finished leather and digging into and damaging semi-aniline or aniline leather.

Effects of hair spray on leather

  1. Drying Out Leather: Leather contains natural oils that maintain its flexibility and smooth texture. Alcohol in hair spray can strip away these oils, causing the leather to become dry and brittle. This increases the risk of cracking and splitting, especially in areas of frequent use such as seats or handbags.
  2. Discoloration: The solvents and chemicals in hair spray can cause discoloration to leather surfaces. Depending on the type of leather and the dye used, this could manifest as blotches or fade spots, significantly detracting from the appearance and potentially devaluing the item.
  3. Build up of Residue: The polymers in hair spray are not water-soluble and can leave a sticky residue when sprayed on leather. This residue attracts dirt and dust, leading to further soiling instead of cleaning. Over time, this buildup becomes harder to remove, requiring professional treatment to restore the leather’s condition.

Safer alternatives for cleaning leather

Rather than resorting to harmful DIY methods, consider the following safe alternatives for cleaning leather:

  • Specialized Leather Cleaners: Use cleaners specifically formulated for leather. These products are pH-balanced to ensure they do not harm the leather’s structural integrity while effectively removing dirt and stains.
  • Mild Soap Cleaning Solution: For light cleaning, a mild soap solution (like saddle soap or dish soap) mixed with warm water can be gently applied with a soft cloth. This method can help remove surface dirt without harsh chemicals.
  • Household items solution: White vinegar and baking soda will also do the trick. Just make sure you wipe the solution away afterwards to avoid any smell.
  • Professional Cleaning: For persistent stains or valuable leather items, professional cleaning is the best choice. Leather experts have the tools and knowledge to treat stains without causing damage.

Let Fibrenew take care of your leather repair needs

Using hair spray to clean leather is risky and can lead to long-term damage. The solvents and chemicals in hair spray are unsuited for leather care and can degrade its quality and appearance.

Instead of quick fixes, investing in proper leather care products and techniques will ensure your leather items remain in excellent condition for years. By understanding the properties of leather and how to care for it appropriately, you can avoid common pitfalls and preserve the value and beauty of your leather goods.

Get in touch with your local Fibrenew professional for all your leather, plastic, and vinyl repair needs.

Want to run a business that gives you incredible earning potential and the flexibility to take control of your time and life? Join the Fibrenew Family!

Check out our free Franchise Information Report for everything you need to know.

Also, enjoy these valuable resources on all things leather, plastic, and vinyl repair, franchising, sustainability, and more:


Hair spray on leather FAQ

Why is using hair spray on leather a bad idea?

Using hair spray on leather can damage the material. Hair spray contains chemicals like alcohol, polymers, and other substances that aren’t suitable for leather. These chemicals can strip away the natural oils in leather, leading to dryness, cracking, and discoloration.

Can hair spray remove stains from leather?

While hair spray may seem like a quick fix for stains on leather, it’s not recommended. The chemicals in hair spray can actually worsen stains by setting them into the leather or causing additional damage to the leather’s surface.

Does hair spray provide any benefits for leather?

Hair spray should not be used as a leather cleaner or conditioner. It doesn’t provide any beneficial properties for leather and can instead cause harm over time. Leather requires specific care products designed to clean, condition, and protect its natural qualities.

Are there alternative products for cleaning leather?

Yes, there are many leather cleaners and conditioners available that are specifically formulated to clean and protect leather without causing damage. These products are designed to nourish the leather, restore its moisture balance, and maintain its suppleness.

What should I do if I accidentally use hair spray on my leather items?

If you accidentally use hair spray on your leather items, it’s essential to act quickly. Immediately wipe off any excess hair spray with a clean, damp cloth. Then, treat the affected area with a leather cleaner and conditioner to help restore moisture and protect the leather from further damage.

Can hair spray be used on any type of leather?

No, hair spray should not be used on any type of leather. Whether it’s genuine leather, suede, nubuck, or any other type, hair spray can cause damage and should be avoided. Always use products specifically designed for the type of leather you’re cleaning or conditioning.

Is there anything else I should avoid using on leather?

In addition to hair spray, avoid using harsh chemicals, alcohol-based cleaners, abrasive cloths or brushes, and excessive water on leather. These can all cause damage and affect the appearance and longevity of your leather items. Stick to gentle, leather-safe products and methods for cleaning and conditioning.

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Meet the author

Paul Gingras

Support Director

I’m thrilled to lead an enthusiastic support team that works hard every day to ensure our franchise partners experience success and satisfaction while growing their business.

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