Leather is one of the most durable, long-lasting types of upholstery available. That's why leather furniture is typically so expensive. Knowing how to maintain and clean your leather furniture (with ingredients you probably already have in your stockpile!) can help protect your pricey investment, keeping it looking amazing for decades to come. Leather cleaners and maintainers can cost up to $10. It costs $2 or less to make your own cleaners and leather nourishers. That's a savings of 80 percent!

To Maintain:

1. Wipe down your leather furniture with a clean, white cloth once a week. The white cloth not only removes dust and debris, it doesn’t leave behind any dyes like colored washcloths could. They also make it easy to see when you have removed every speck of dust.

2. Vacuum your furniture once a month or so to remove any deep down dirt or grime.

3. To nourish the leather, mix together two parts linseed oil with one part white vinegar. Mix or shake this “hide food” thoroughly. Pour a little bit of it onto a soft cloth and gently wipe the surface of your leather furniture. Work in circular motions until the entire surface is covered. Allow the furniture to sit for about 10 minutes and then buff the leather with a soft cloth until it's shiny.

To Clean:

Clean your leather furniture with a damp, soft cloth. Just be sure the cloth is damp and not soaking wet. For tough dirt and grime, use a gentle moisturizing soap like Dove or baby shampoo. Lather the soap on with a cloth, being sure not to over-wet the leather, which can damage it. Do not rinse off the soap, just buff it away. The soap actually works as a leather conditioner. Never use strong detergents, alcohol or harsh chemicals to clean your leather furniture. All of these can permanently damage it.

For Spot Removal:

  • Ink stains: Remove stains like ink by dipping a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol or non-acetone nail polish remover. Gently rub the spot until it disappears (this might take a couple of tries) and then blow dry it on the lowest setting. If the stain is particularly stubborn, rub a thick coat of non-oily, non-gel cuticle remover onto the leather. Allow it to sit overnight and then gently wipe the stain away with a damp cloth.
  • Dark stains: Dark and protein-based stains (like mud, blood and food) can be removed by mixing together a paste of one part cream of tartar and one part lemon juice. Rub the paste into the stain and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. Add another layer of the paste, really rubbing it into the stain and then remove it with a damp sponge. Buff the leather with a soft cloth until it's dry.
  • Water stains: Water rings and stains can be removed with mayonnaise. Just apply the condiment in a thick layer and allow it to sit for a couple of hours. Wipe the mayo off (along with the water stain) using a dry cloth and allow the leather to dry.


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10 thoughts on “How to Clean and Maintain Leather Furniture on the Cheap”

Is there anything to get the line marks off of my leather furniture is is on every seat


Leather is stupid.


Will this work on “bonded” leather as well? Bonded leather is a cheap version of leather.


Love your ideas always.Worth reading .. very helpful.
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Leather Cleaner


Thank you for providing these tips, though I use baby wipes for cleaning leather sofas mostly. They are very effective in removing dust from the leather. If some residue from the wipes remains in the leather, I follow it up with a clean cloth. The result will be a very new looking leather sofa. Once in a month I try a mix of vinegar with water and dip a microfiber cloth in the
solution and clean the sofa with it. They provide great results as combined with the regular cleaning my four year old leather sofa, still looks good as new. And as you said, testing a new cleaning solution is very important as a wrong solution can damage the leather. While I tried different solutions I tested at the very small area of bottom of backside of the sofa which faces the wall. A couple of solutions seems like having a side effect with the leather, so I threw away those solutions.


or is there another mixture to use instead of linseed oil?


will the linseed oil help minimize the “wrinkling” of the leather?


Be careful with rubbing alcohol on dark leather. Our 1 year old marked up our brown leather couches with a black ball point pen. My husband tried to clean it up with a cloth and rubbing alcohol and wiped the the ink off along with the brown leather stain. Now we have a light brown blotch on our couch.


Good point — always spot test in an inconspicuous area when trying a new cleaning method!