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How Do I Clean Pleather Leggings?

T. Alaine
T. Alaine

Pleather leggings can be a tricky item to clean, unlike simpler items such as leather upholstery. Spot cleaning the leggings by wiping them with a damp cloth is easy for everyday spills and topical blemishes, but stains can necessitate more elaborate cleaning strategies. Additionally, because pleather leggings fit tightly to the skin, they probably need to be cleaned more frequently than a pleather jacket or couch would have to be, which can cause unsightly wear and tear if not done carefully. Different circumstances call for different methods of cleaning leggings made of pleather to ensure that they hold their shape and style.

The most basic situation for cleaning pleather leggings is probably a topical, non-staining blemish. For example, if a person spills a bite of food on the leggings, it must be removed. In these instances, pleather is a great fabric because its plasticine nature will resist the onset of most stains by preventing absorption into the fibers. Stray food or dirt can be removed by simply wiping the pleather leggings clean with a damp cloth. Generally, water stains are not a concern with pleather like they are with authentic leather, unless the leggings are left to soak for excessive periods of time.

Treat stains with a mild dish soap and warm water.
Treat stains with a mild dish soap and warm water.

If a stain has set into the pleather leggings, cleaning becomes a bit more involved. The first process to try is simply treating the stain with a mild dish soap and warm water. Using a mild soap is key because harsh cleaners might compromise the texture or result in a brand new stain of their own by discoloring the faux leather. Some specialty products designed for cleaning pleather might be useful, but it usually is wise to test any cleaning products in a discreet area — such as the inner waistband — before attacking noticeable spots.

Pleather leggings should not be placed in a dryer.
Pleather leggings should not be placed in a dryer.

Some pleather leggings might have a full leg lining, but most at the very least have a lining in the crotch of the pants. Leggings fit tightly, so these inside linings will need to be cleaned after they are worn a few times, or more frequently. The leggings should be turned inside out to reveal the lining and then soaked in a solution of gentle dish soap and warm water. Standard washing machine cycles and laundry detergents might be too harsh and cause damage, but it might be possible to wash the leggings with very gentle detergents on the delicate cycle.

Even if a washing machine is found to be an acceptable cleaning method, it is not recommended to put pleather in the dryer. Doing so can cause the leggings to shrink, distort or — even worse — melt. Leggings should be wrung out after washing and hung to air dry.

Discussion Comments

@ Rundocuri: I think this article makes some really good points worth following. I have found that when possible, spot cleaning my pleather clothing is best. However, when I do have to wash them in the washing machine, I always use the gentle cycle. I never place them in the dryer because the heat can certainly be damaging.

I have several pleather items and have been reluctant to use certain cleaning methods on them. The material seems so delicate. Does anyone have hands-on experience with cleaning this unique material?

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    • Treat stains with a mild dish soap and warm water.
      By: Kuzmick
      Treat stains with a mild dish soap and warm water.
    • Pleather leggings should not be placed in a dryer.
      By: Ghost
      Pleather leggings should not be placed in a dryer.