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Secret DIY Solution: How to Clean Leather for Less

Kinsey.Lindgren

Despite tiptoeing around your leather furniture and forbidding any kind of edible concoction in the near vicinity, there’s bound to be the natural accumulation of dust and dirt. And don’t even get me started on that favorite leather jacket. Short of wearing a bib, your cautious nature can’t prevent the occasional dribble or spill. So how do you get the original, clean luster back without completely ruining the leather?

One option: bring on the professionals. Gasp! Cleaning bills and expensive chemical solutions almost sound as bad as pen mark on the white leather sofa. Good news: there’s a way to hang on to that hard earned money and still get clean leather, even if it has been soaked in red wine. Best of all, the products needed to accomplish the task are found in your bathroom and kitchen. Plus, they won’t overdry leather like “professional” cleaning products can.



What You Need:

  • A common plastic spray bottle for applying your homemade cleansing mix. Using an empty spray bottle that once held some other sort of cleaning product is fine, just make sure to thoroughly wash the bottle out first.
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Toothpaste or aerosol hair spray
  • White vinegar
  • Linseed or olive oil
  • A small container or bowl
  • A few cloth rags

Step 1:

If there is any mildew on your leather, your first order of business should be to get rid of it fast. Mix equal parts water and rubbing alcohol in your spray bottle, and spray a light film of the cleanser over mildewy spots. Let the cleanser sit for a few seconds, and then wipe the areas treated with a clean rag.



Step 2:

Pretreating any stains is the next step after mildew removal. This should come before the more general cleaning process. With a circular motion, gently work a small dab of toothpaste into any light stains. Then wipe the toothpaste off with a clean rag. If the stains persist, spray it with a light, even coat of aerosol hair spray. Wipe the spray film off with a clean, dry rag. Tip: Softer leathers may be prone to losing dye when being stain treated, so test a very small area of the leather first. If it seems like using toothpaste or aerosol spray will be a problem, a handful of dish detergent lather may be more appropriate for breaking up lighter stains.

Step 3:

Now you’re ready for a more generalized cleaning of your leather garment or piece of furniture. In a small bowl or container, mix together one part white vinegar with two parts linseed or olive oil. Using a clean rag in a gentle and circular motion, apply an even and thorough coat of this mixture. Leave the oil and vinegar on the item for 24 hours, and then buff off with a terry or waffle weave cloth rag. Yes, your leather will temporarily smell like a salad, but it’s worth it!

Step 4:

This is the easy part. If you’ve used this process on a jacket, let it dry out in the sun. This will prevent any mildew from forming after contact with liquids and will also help to deodorize the jacket. Your garment or upholstery will look better, smell fresher, and your wallet will remain as fat as it always has!

This is a guest post by L.K. from Albany, NY
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