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Best Homemade Leather Cleaners With Natural Ingredients

Jennifer L. Betts
Cleaning Leather Chair

Cleaning your leather doesn't need to cost you a fortune. In fact, it can be done with ingredients you have right in your own home. However, it's important to heed manufacturers' warnings before making homemade leather cleaners with coconut oil and vinegar.

Before Using a Homemade Leather Cleaner

Given that leather is such as popular material, which is used to make everything from couches to cowboy boots, jackets to jumpers, pants, purses, and pocketbooks, it's not hard to see why there's a huge market for commercial leather cleaners. Fortunately, you don't have to spend an arm and a leg keeping your leather items in tip-top shape. When considering a homemade leather cleaner on your precious leather possessions, you must pay attention to the manufacturer's care instructions that came with the leather item.

  • If the maker states this leather item needs to be cleaned by a professional or provides home cleaning instructions, don't experiment with your own homemade cleaning solution.
  • If a leather item has no specific instructions, then you can consider using a homemade leather cleaner.

Is the Leather Finished or Unfinished?

It's also essential to do some research and determine if it's finished or unfinished leather before you try cleaning it.

  • Finished leather has an extra layer that protects its color, provides its texture, and also determines how porous it is. It is also easier to clean.
  • Unfinished leather is entirely different, and you'll need to be more careful. Unfinished leather is more susceptible to stains and damage because it has no protective coating and is highly absorbent.

Be cautious about using any oil-based products for cleaning if you have unfinished leather products because it absorbs quickly and can discolor the leather.

Proceed With Caution

Many leather experts like Donna L. Frehafer advise against using homemade leather cleaners. Additionally, warranties can be voided if improper cleaning methods are used. However, if you want to give DIY homemade leather cleaners a try, always test it on a hidden portion of the leather item you're cleaning. Use a cotton swab that's been dipped into the cleaner. This will limit the amount of leather that is exposed to the cleaner. Once you determine that the cleaner is effective on the leather, you're ready to proceed with the cleaning.

Effective Homemade Leather Cleaner Ingredients

Since you've read this far, it's time to look at homemade leather cleaners. To get started, grab these items out of your pantry:

  • Olive oil
  • Castile soap
  • Essential oils
  • Grapefruit seed extract
  • Toothpaste (white, not gel)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Hairspray
  • Coconut oil
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Saddle soap
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Spray bottle

Homemade Leather Cleaner With Coconut Oil

Leather jackets, pants, and skirts absorb nasty odors like a sponge. To clean and freshen up dingy and smelly leather clothing items, follow these instructions:

  1. Mix together in a spray bottle:
    • 1 cup of warmed coconut oil
    • 1 teaspoon of Castile soap
    • 1-2 drops of essential oil
    • 1-2 drops of grapefruit seed extract
    • 4 cups of warm water
  2. Spritz the leather garment with the liquid mixture.
  3. Wipe clean with a soft cloth.

You can choose to substitute olive oil if you don't have coconut oil on hand.

cleaning leather

DIY Leather Cleaner for Handbags

Are your handbags starting to look dingy? If mold or mildew is becoming a problem for your favorite handbag, then grab the alcohol.

  1. To remove mold or mildew from leather bags or purses, mix together equal parts rubbing alcohol and water.
  2. Spray the mixture directly on the stain and wipe clean with a soft cloth.
  3. Allow the bag to air dry, but do not place it in direct sunlight, as the leather will fade if left out too long.

Homemade Leather Shoe Cleaner

Leather shoes and belts that are made from hard, finished leather can be easily cleaned with white vinegar. For regular cleaning:

  1. Mix equal amounts of white vinegar and olive oil or beeswax.
  2. Apply a small amount on the shoes or belt.
  3. Let the concoction sit for a couple of minutes before buffing it with a soft cloth or chamois.

Homemade Leather Cleaner for Removing Road Salt

It's inevitable that your leather products will get salt on them in the winter if you live in an area with snow. Therefore, knowing how to get it off is vital. If you are trying to rid your leather winter boots from road salt, follow these steps.

  1. Mix together one part white vinegar and one part water.
  2. Dampen the corner of a soft cloth in the mixture.
  3. Wipe the salt from your leather boots.

This solution is useful for leather riding jackets; however, you should treat the jacket with a conditioner after wiping it dry.

Patent Leather Shoes

For patent leather shoes, clean with straight white vinegar. Wipe dry with a clean cloth, then apply a thin layer of Vaseline to protect your shoes from rain and snow.

DIY Leather Cleaners for Furniture

Leather couches, chairs, and tabletops often need deep cleaning depending on how much use they get. If your leather furniture is in a high traffic area, then you might consider the following homemade cleaning remedies to help preserve their condition.

Toothpaste

Do you have a stubborn stain? Toothpaste to the rescue.

  1. Apply standard toothpaste, the white paste type, not gel, directly on the stain.
  2. Lightly rub the affected area with a soft cloth.
  3. Wipe off any residual toothpaste.

Hairspray

No toothpaste on hand? Not a problem, just grab your hairspray for that stain on your leather sofa.

  1. Spray directly on the stain and wipe away quickly with a clean cloth.
  2. You may have to do this a number of times in a row in order to eliminate the entire stain.

Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise and your couch don't seem like they would go together. And in most instances, they wouldn't. However, if you have a stubborn water stain, look in your refrigerator.

  1. Apply mayonnaise directly to the stain.
  2. Allow it to sit for a few hours before wiping off with a clean, damp cloth.

Grab the Saddle Soap

Saddle soap may or may not be something you have around the house, but it's economical, easy to find, and an easy-to-use leather cleaner and conditioner. It's not the best for a large piece of furniture, but saddle soap is excellent for smaller items such as belts, wallets, shoes, gloves, and boots, as well as basketballs and footballs. To use saddle soap, you:

  1. Wipe the leather down with a soft cloth or brush.
  2. Dampen a soft cloth and create a lather from the saddle soap.
  3. Use a circular motion to apply the lather to the leather.
  4. Use a dry cloth to wipe the lather away, and be sure the leather is entirely free of soap to prevent buildup.
  5. Buff with another soft dry cloth.

Homemade Leather Cleaning Made Simple

There are several home remedies for cleaning your leather. Not only are they cheap, but they can be effective. Now, find the method that works best for you!

Best Homemade Leather Cleaners With Natural Ingredients