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The Apple iPhone 5s leather case is a dirt magnet, tell us how you keep it clean!

Apple made a re-entry to the accessories market with the launch of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, one of which is the range of pretty awesome looking leather cases for the 5s. One problem – much less obvious if you got the black – is that leather attracts dirt. General dirt, grease, the stain from the inside of your jeans pocket, it's almost impossible to prevent.

Indeed, I picked up a (Product) RED leather case for my own iPhone 5s around 10 days ago, and it's already looking a little second hand. But, think about the leather seats inside a car. They get dirty, and a little tired, but they also get cared for, cleaned and treated to keep them looking their best and prolonging the usable life. The Apple iPhone 5s case isn't a cheap phone case, so it's not an unusual idea to apply the same tactics to caring for it, right?

So, if you've got any tips or tricks you've already tried to help keep your case looking its best, we want to hear from you. Personally, for light staining and general dirty marks, I find regular old baby wipes can be a useful thing to keep lying around. Especially if you've got a few leather products in your household.

So, jump into the comments below with your own experiences, tips and tricks. Or perhaps you're perfectly OK with the 'distressed' look achieved after many days in a jeans pocket? Or maybe you avoided the leather cases for this very reason? We'd love to hear from you!

Richard Devine

Senior Editor at iMore, part time racing driver, full time British guy

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There are 66 comments. Add yours.

Shahed Yousaf says:

I have a tan leather apple 5S case, I tried alcohol wipe and noticed it was also removing the leather colour!


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Josh Lyle says:

That was the worse idea ever! Good way to try out any leather fast! Go to the car section and get leather cleaner and leather conditioner. Don't get the conviction type as it doesn't let the conditioner soak in as much for better protection against drying and protection against the elements. Caring for a leather case takes just minute and will last forever as long as you take the time to do so. Most heavy oils for conditioning will change the look and feel drastically, so stay away from oils if you don't want that kind of change.

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Josh Lyle says:

Don't get the combination type*

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Josh Lyle says:

That was the worse idea ever! Good way to try out any leather fast! Go to the car section and get leather cleaner and leather conditioner. Don't get the combination type as it doesn't let the conditioner soak in as much for better protection against drying and protection against the elements. Caring for a leather case takes just minute and will last forever as long as you take the time to do so. Most heavy oils for conditioning will change the look and feel drastically, so stay away from oils if you don't want that kind of change.

Sent from the iMore App

Lazlo Kovacs says:

Clean with alcohol wipe. Then put some baby oil or moisturizing lotion. Will look slick with time.

GlennRuss says:

I have not seen the cases, but a good leather cleaner/conditioner on the outside only will help. Do not use alcohol, because it will remove the dye.

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Douglas Erley says:

Put a couple coats of Kiwi neutral shoe polish on your case before you use it. After each coat, polish with a shoe brush. This will seal the leather and keep the dirt off. It will also be protected from liquids. I have the brown case and it didn't change color. Can't speak to the other colors. This has a further benefit of making the case less slippery.

G.4 says:

This is actually really smart. Will try

G.4 says:

Had the case since January and haven't had any need to clean it (have black color). But I still think this is a good idea.

tiedemann says:

This worked well on iPhone 5S leather case and iPad Air leather case.

K Star says:

This sounds like a great idea to keep the dirt off. This is the problem though, i may buy another and use this technique but what if it doesn't work... Are you SURE it works? I mean i don't want to waste ANOTHER £35

Edwar Cuellar says:

you tried this 7 months ago, so tell me, is still your case totally clean? i want to purchase the brown one, but i'm not sure, because the bad comments

benjimen says:

Try dropping it, as the tissue-thin layer of leather shreds when it hits the ground, you won't care whether it's dirty or not -- you'll just start to wonder which case you >should< have purchased ;-)

I found that out yesterday when I dropped the black one -- luckily the case prevented any damage to my iPhone, but where the case hit the sidewalk the leather disintegrated on contact...

G.4 says:

This would have been much more helpful of a comment without the sarcasm.

Roxmo says:

Oh, but then it wouldn't be fun.

graigsmith says:

Try a magic eraser. I use them on white leather shoes.

RealNeal says:

This is the reason I buy a translucent Kay's Case gel case instead. Less than $10, stays clean, protects, and has lots of cool colors. Plus I can see the details of the aluminum case through the gel.

Lonnieg says:

Try 409. I use it on my Porsche leather seats and it works great. Just follow it up with a leather conditioner after that.
I hope that helps.

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rvinny says:

Great post! I use it on my baby elephant leather Ferrari seats as well.

Opus105 says:

Indeed. Though it does leave a film on the siberian tiger seats in my Lamborghini.

FlexVilla says:

Tried it on my horse. Didn't work.

kennethcop says:

You should try a leather case from this website :


It´s just perfect for the iPhone 5 or 5S!

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JBoen says:

Damn, i just purchased mine, a black one, its on the way. I thought it would be just like smart cover leather material.

jsbrock says:

Which also gets just as dirty. I think it's pretty similar material, but the back of the phone and the phone itself for that matter will tend to be in dirtier places than the front of an iPad simply because of portability.

JBoen says:

Got mine after an hour from posting, i should say its okay, i was previously applied zagg leather skin for my iphone and its peeled off so i try this leather case. The problem i got is the dirts show near camera hole, which i think it happens to all hard cases.

Good news is i tried putting it into my jeans pocket, thought the dirts will stick to the leather just like any other silicon case, but it didnt. I wouldnt say its a dirt magnet.

joshrocker says:

I really want the black leather case for my silver 5s but I keep hearing how fast it wears and how dirty it gets. The cases are pretty expensive so I want it to last. I really can't make up my mind.

airjordanxx2 says:

They get dirty very easy I got this same color "Red" and I am about to call apple for refund.

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Tom Price1 says:

well I'm huge in keeping my car/trucks clean so i enjoy detailing them so i got lot great stuff around the house but i use my leather cleaner and leather conditioner on my red one and its like new http://www.adamspolishes.com/p-131-adams-leather-interior-cleaner.aspx

brocox1 says:

I was seriously considering this case but I read a lot of reviews about it getting dirty fast. I did some research on the type of leather the case has and this is what I found:

ANILINE leather’s are very porous and delicate and do not perform in everyday use as well as protected leather.

Being porous the ANILINE will absorb dirt, oils and grime and these will eventually block the pores of the hide and ruin the feel and finish. It is also susceptible to fading, even with indirect sunlight the colour can change dramatically.

The low durability factor means that basically it cannot be cleaned. It will also mark and stain rather easily.

I got this from a leather website. I have decided to go with a Sena case because they use premium leather with their cases and will last longer. Hope this helps.

stewm says:

There are a lot of automotive leather cleaner and sealers that are perfect for any leather case. Mothers Brand Cleaner and Condition or Turtlewax branded cleaner conditioner are two the come to mind and both are designed specifically for car seats that similar tend to get grubby really fast. Though I haven't thought about purchasing one of the cases to use on my iPhone 5 and kind of still like the 99 cents cover that I bought (even though I've bought expensive ones including a leather wallet style case I still go back to the cheapest of the cheap clear plastic cover) I just cannot bring myself to hide the phone away from view.

Though I have used the Mothers Conditioner on other leather products and been happy with the results.

END says:

We use Meguiars Leather cleaner on all our leather cases. Works well.

lepinap says:

I have the brown and I use neutral shoe wax applied with a toothbrush and then I polish it with a shoe brush; it look shiny and better color than new and the best thing is that this repel the dirt.

ndogdrumz says:

I keep it clean by using an Otterbox or no case. I was going to get this case until the dirt issues.

micaels says:

Guess it will be an interesting experience, ordered a red one for my iPhone

pjlsgs says:

Sorry about stating the obvious but get a black version. It's true mine is only a couple of weeks old but it's perfect.

Not Quite Right says:

Sorry about stating the obvious but get a black version. It's true mine is only a couple of weeks old but it's perfect.
This ...

alibu69 says:

Saddle soap and then leather protector spray brings the shine back but it doesn't stay long. Need a more permanent solution

prophecyc2 says:

I have the brown and I love the more color it gets. It adds a certain look to it that I like. I don't consider it "dirt"...just "character"

metacuate says:

I have had a red case for a week now, and even though we had one for our other (which got traded for a black for this reason), my red case looks better than new because I have applied a good leather conditioner that makes it feel (and smell) great. I got the conditioner at walmart in the shoe section and it says to apply it once every couple of weeks and I plan to do just that, so that it keeps looking new. Red was the only case I liked, and hope they come out with a navy blue case which would be amazing :)

matt pickering says:

Wonder how well the leather Protectants for hats and shoes would work for this.

tuffy100 says:

Well..I just don't get it dirty >.>

Bjones718 says:

I have the dark tan one, and I never tried to clean it. I kind of want that worn out leather look... Almost like a old bomber jacket.

Aimar_69 says:

I got the light brown one within one week it got ruined .. worst 50$ i spent

metacuate says:

Just take it to an apple store and they will replace it. No questions asked.

Ahan Malhotra says:

My local Apple Store did NOT replace it. They pointed to the disclaimer stating that the appearance will change over time.

metacuate says:

I returned mine twice for discoloration. Each time they told me I have another two week window.

Collin Parenton says:

Just remember that leather is basically skin so anything that would dry your skin out will do the same to leather. Avoid anything with silicon in it as it will dry leather out in no time. I use Lexol leather cleaner and conditioner on my car seats and on my case. After using any quality leather product cleaner/conditioner, your own skin should feel pretty good as well as you are basically cleaning and moisturizing.

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Maxey05 says:

Looks nice but doesn't stay nice.. I always wipe my phone down with a damp paper towel. Get all the greasy feeling off my phone. Always got to stay fresh!

CraigVer says:

Am I the only iPhone user that doesn't use a case at all?

offdahglass says:

I didn't like any of the cases I'd seen and thought they looked cheap.

eriqesque says:

I don't know what you people are doing to your cases. I have been using the blue one since it was released and it is still as clean as it was the day I bought it.

dokito says:

1) sprinkle it with perfume
2) buy a safety deposit box
3) put it in a plastic bag, seal it
4) put it inside the deposit box and lock it
5) never use it

Stays clean forever!

Eric Andonian says:

I use saddle soap (look for it anywhere shoe polish is sold; it's in a similary shaped can). Saddle Soap. It's not really soap, you just rub it on--it cleans, moisturizes, and protects any leather.

AdamBradley1 says:

I've had loads of cases over the years including apple ones, my favourite by far is the Imela Duet leather case though www.imela.co.uk Bought it together with one for the iPad, maybe just me...but I like things that match!

EnglishMike1 says:

Bought a Red one and looked awful after 4 weeks. Took it back to London store and they swapped it without even wanting a receipt. Before using the new on I gave it a few coats of Leather Protection Spray and still looks like new 2 weeks after. Will apply a new coat every few weeks.

AndroidArmageddon says:

I'm taking my red one back. Not even 4 days out of the package and has been in my pockets and a couple of clean desks. I'm not obsessive compulsive but owning this case will make me such person. Bareback anyone? Should my iphone just do the full Monty in style? The other pain about this case is of you need to get your phone out of it. I don't want to have to buy shoe polish for my phone case.

nhwhazup says:

I had both the black and red leather ipad cases but ended up returning them for a back white carbon fiber type skin and the Apple Smart covers instead. Offers zero drop protection but really nice thin and light scratch protection. I'm just so much happier with this combination.

ivan1.ruiz says:

I bought the brown case and after about 3 days the case looked super bad all black sides so I took it to apple with the box and they gave me a new one. This time before I used the case I went to Walmart and purchased a can of "KIWI protect all" for about $7 and coated the case to where it was thick and smooth. I let it dry and then repeated the steps about 8 - 10 times. When the case gets scratches or dirty I simply coat it again with protect all and wipe it off.. let it dry and then coat it again for protection. Seems that the actual coating is the one that gets dirty and scratched so spaying it with protect all and cleaning it and then re coating it does the trick. I have had the case for about 3 weeks now and it is looking awesome. I can see the case aging now but the color is a good color like leather is supposed to look when aging.

Hope it helps guys and believe me best case by far. Just make sure to use protect all.

K Star says:

Are you SURE it works, as I said earlier in the comments, I want to use this method but don't know if it will work on my beige case. Also, which makes it even harder to decide if i should get a new one, i don't know how to apply the kiwi. Please reply, anyone...

52myinfo says:

Great tip! I will give Kiwi Protect All a try.

In the past for cleaning the leather, I would just get a can of Pledge or the the Pledge Wet Wipes, as they have a line that is used to clean leather sofas, and it works great on my leather cases as well.

I didn't get the Apple leather case, but got a leather one customized here:


Cost about the same, but I get to choose from a wide variety of crazy colors and textures.

kenny55d says:

The whole point of a case is to provide protection for the phone from minor scratches, drops, bumps and keep the phone looking good; this is what the case is for so if you are now having to also worry about keeping a case looking clean/good then you have purchased a rubbish case and there are many out there including the expensive ones!
A good case should look good and be very low maintenance, if simply wiping/brushing it is not enough to keep it clean then it’s a fail, you should return it for a better one.

John Quincy says:

You got to check out the dirt resistant leather cases for your iphone 5S at http://www.leatherphone.com