Homemade Leather Cleaner

leather chair

Before you even consider using homemade leather cleaner on your prized leather goods, it is vital that you read the care instructions the items came with first. If a leather product clearly states that it should be cleaned by a professional, then heed the warning and resist the temptation to experiment with your own leather cleaning concoctions. However, if your leather goods don't explicitly state that they should be professionally cleaned, then you might consider using a homemade cleaner.

Recipes for 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 is such 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. Rather, most homes have a litany of products that are safe to use on leather. The following recipes illustrate how easy it is to make your own leather cleaner at home:


Leather jackets, pants and skirts absorb nasty odors, especially cigarette smoke, like a sponge. To clean and freshen up dingy and smelly leather clothing items mix together the following ingredients in a gallon container:

  • 3 1/3 cups of olive oil
  • 1/3 cup Castile soap
  • 10 drops of essential oil
  • 10 drops of grapefruit seed extract
  • 1/2 gallon of water

Shake the container well and then place enough of the mixture to fill a spray bottle. Spritz the leather garment with the liquid mixture and wipe clean with a soft cloth.

Bags and Purses

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

Shoes and Belts

Shoes and belts that are made from hard finished leather can be more easily cleaned. For regular cleaning, apply a small amount of a mixture of white vinegar and olive oil or beeswax on the shoes or belt. Let the concoction sit for a couple of minutes before buffing it with a soft rag or chamois. Be cautious about using any oil based products for cleaning if you have unfinished leather products as it will absorb quickly and can discolor the leather.

If you are trying to rid your leather winter boots from road salt, mix together one part white vinegar and one part water. Next, dampen the corner of a soft cloth in the mixture and wipe the salt from your leather boots. This solution can also be used for leather riding jackets; however, you should treat the jacket with a conditioner after wiping it dry.

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


Leather couches, chairs and table tops 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: Apply standard toothpaste, not gel, directly on the stain. Lightly rub the affected area with a soft cloth and then wipe off any residual toothpaste.
  • Nail polish remover: Use sparingly to erase ink stains on leather furniture.
  • Hairspray: Spray directly on the stain and wipe away quickly with a clean cloth. You may have to do this a number of times in a row in order to eliminate the entire stain.
  • Mayonnaise: The popular condiment has been known to erase water marks from leather table tops and other hard leather goods. Apply the mayonnaise directly to the stain and allow it to sit for a few hours before wiping off with a clean, damp cloth.

Test Before Using

The ingredients for the aforementioned homemade leather cleaners can be found online or at most discount retailers and natural food stores. While homemade versions are much more affordable than commercial leather cleaning products, you should always test them on an out-of-the-way portion of your leather garment, bag or furniture first. You might also consider using cotton swabs dipped into a homemade cleaner to further limit the amount of cleaner the leather item is exposed to. Once you determine that the homemade concoction is effective on your leather good, then you can proceed with normal cleaning.

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Homemade Leather Cleaner