How To Clean Leather After Laser Engraving: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Leather laser engraved books

A leather surface is the perfect material for creating high-end, luxurious products such as leather bracelets with your laser engraving machine. You can create dramatic and eye-catching designs with the precision power of leather etching!

However, for a professional finish, you’ll need to clean your products. This guide will cover everything you need to know about how to clean leather after laser engraving.

The Importance of Properly Cleaning Laser Engraved Leather

Leather engraving involves using intense heat to burn away precise layers of leather to create elegant and unique designs. When you engrave leather, this process can leave behind marks and debris that need to be cleaned away to enhance and preserve your custom creations.

Although leather is durable, it’s also sensitive to surface changes from engraving. Proper cleaning can protect the surface and eliminate damaging residue from laser cutting.

Cleaning away smoke or burn marks and particles will help preserve the integrity of leather items and prevent natural leather from degrading. It also keeps your designs clear and sharp by keeping contaminants from filling in the delicate lines of your leather etching.

However, cleaning genuine leather or synthetic leather improperly is worse than not cleaning them at all. Harsh and abrasive cleansers and tools can cause any type of leather to crack, warp, or dry out, damaging the surface and the design. Using the right materials and process will protect your leather and show it off in its best light.

Materials Needed for Cleaning

The materials you’ll need will depend on whether you’re cleaning real leather or faux leather and the type of design on your leather surface. The following list of materials will cover most of your cleaning needs.

  • Brushes: Choose brushes with soft bristles in sizes proportional to your leather pieces.
  • Cloths and sponges: You’ll need several different microfiber cloths for cleaning and drying. You may also need soft sponges in different sizes.
  • Cleaners: Depending on the material you’re engraving, you’ll need different cleaners. For genuine leather, look for a cleaner specifically formulated for natural materials like leather. If your product is faux leather, you can use a mild dish detergent to make a soapy solution. You can also use diluted rubbing alcohol for tough stains.

Step-by-Step Cleaning Process

Once you have your materials, here’s the process for how to clean leather after laser engraving:

1. Remove Surface Debris

Brushing clean leather material

Use your soft-bristled brush to gently remove any obvious debris. Carefully go over the engraved area where dirt, dust, and singed fibers can accumulate. After brushing, go over the entire piece with a dry microfiber cloth. The microfiber will pick up smaller particles and prepare the piece of leather for deeper cleaning.

2. Choose the Right Cleaning Solution

You need to match your cleaner to your material. If you’re cleaning real leather, use a cleaner specifically formulated for leather. Good quality leather cleaners help remove stains and protect leather against wear, tear, and environmental damage. They contain ingredients that condition the leather and extend its life.

Faux leather products require different cleaning products than genuine leather. Synthetic leather is made from plastic-based materials. It’s more resistant to stains and water, but it still needs special care. You can use a mild soapy water solution made with a mild dish detergent.

Regardless of what cleaner you’re using or what material you’re using it on, test it on a small area before you use it on the entire piece. Apply a little bit of the cleaner to a hidden area or a scrap of leftover leather to ensure it won’t discolor the material or have another unexpected result.

3. Apply the Cleaning Solution

Use a sponge or microfiber cloth to apply the cleaning solution. For leather cleaner, wet the cloth or sponge and wring it out so it’s only slightly damp. You don’t want to saturate it. Then dip the cloth or sponge into the leather cleaner and gently wipe the surface. Use cleaner sparingly over the design and avoid harsh rubbing so you won’t blur the laser-cut leather design.

Rubbing cleaning solution onto leather material

For faux leather, dip your cloth or sponge in a soapy water solution. Squeeze out excess water and gently wipe the piece. Although synthetic leather is more water resistant than genuine leather, you still don’t want to saturate it. As with real leather, be careful around the design to avoid damaging it.

4. Gentle Scrubbing for More Difficult Stains

For more difficult stains, you may need to scrub lightly. You can gently scrub the stain with a soft brush dipped in leather cleaner or soapy water.

If the stain persists, try rubbing alcohol diluted half and half with distilled water. If you use diluted alcohol, use a very small amount and test it on a hidden surface first. When you finish cleaning, dampen a microfiber cloth and wipe off any leftover cleaning residue.

5. Dry the Leather

When you finish cleaning your natural leather product, you need to make sure it’s dry. Start by patting the surface with a clean, dry microfiber cloth to soak up any excess moisture. Avoid rubbing the surface, particularly around the design. You want the edges to stay sharp and defined.

Laying out leather strips


Once you’ve wiped down the piece with a cloth, leave it in a well-ventilated area to air-dry naturally away from direct sunlight. Don’t use a blow dryer or other artificial heat source because it could cause the leather to dry out and crack or warp. Lay your items out flat or hang them so they’ll dry evenly.

Ensure the Best Possible Quality of Your Leather Laser Engraving

Cleaning your laser engraving leather products will help keep them looking their best. However, starting with the best laser engraver for leather is the key to getting the best results.

OMTech was founded by industry experts who are passionate about providing the best machines and user experience for our customers. Reach out today to learn more about our wide range of laser engravers for marking leather!