The question of how to clean leather comes up not that often in our house. Mostly when we got to get stains out of a leather bag or furniture, we are looking into this. That’s how we got first started on trying to find some homemade leather cleaner recipe instead of spending money on some commercial product.
When you have to clean leather, the main thing to avoid is drying out the leather material. If you are working with finished leather, you can generally use products and leather care solutions that you already have on hand. Unfinished leather requires more care, so be careful when working with leather that lacks the sheen of finished leather.
How to Clean Leather
The first step in cleaning leather is to use olive oil, soap and a towel. Try out the cleaning method on a small spot first to make sure that it does not change the color of the fabric. Afterward, use a damp towel with a little soap to clean the leather. Squeeze the towel of any excess water because it should only be damp. Wipe down the leather gently until the spots are removed.
Once you cleaned the leather, rinse the towel before using it to wipe away any soap residue. Leather is not entirely water resistant, so you cannot clean the material like you normally would. Instead, use the clean, damp towel to remove the residue.
Next, use a dry towel to remove any of the excess water that remains. If you have specific oils for leather, you can use them to recondition the material. For an at-home option, olive oil can help to recondition the material and prevent it from drying out.
How to Clean a Leather Bag or Purse
Leather purses or bags are susceptible to stains because they are used so frequently. Regular soap can prevent the material from breathing, so it is important to use a mild soap or facial soap.
You can make your leather cleaner at home. Just mix one part if mild facial soap in with eight parts water. Place the mixture into a spray bottle and spray it onto a sturdy towel.
Use the towel to wipe against the grain of the leather until the stain has dissolved. Afterward, allow the bag to dry naturally inside your home. To protect the purse, use a small amount of leather moisturizer after it has dried completely.
Homemade Leather Cleaner and Conditioner
There are several products in your kitchen that can help to clean and condition leather. White vinegar is ideal as a basic homemade leather cleaner. It is perfect for regular cleaning and maintaining the health of the material. Meanwhile, lemon juice mixed with cream of tartar is excellent for removing stains.
To keep your leather supple, a mixture of one part white vinegar to two parts linseed oil can be applied with a soft towel. Let it rest for 12 hours and then buff the leather.
Alternatively you can use other ingredients you might already have at home:
Beeswax is amazing for leather, but it takes some time to prepare. To make a beeswax leather conditioner, use one part beeswax, two parts almond oil and one part cocoa butter. Blend on medium heat until the oils melt into each other.
Once it cools, this balm can be massaged into the leather with your fingers before you buff it with a dry cloth. For an alternative, lemon essential oil is great at preventing cracks and ensuring the long-term health of your favorite leather bag or jacket.
Get Stains Out of Leather
An at-home solution for removing leather stains involves one part cream of tartar and one part lemon juice. Mix it to get a creamy paste. Using a soft cloth, work it into the stain. If the stain remains, let it sit for a few hours before applying the mixture again. When the stain has been removed, wipe it clean and use a leather conditioner (see above recipe for conditioner).
For water stains, you can use water to treat the stain. Wet the entire cushion, jacket or area with a sponge and room temperature water. Afterward, use the sponge to gradually remove the moisture. Do not scrub the fabric or expose it to the sun. As long as the water was reapplied uniformly, the water spots will disappear.
Removing very Old Stains
Oil stains can be removed with some corn starch and patience. Rub some corn starch into the stain until the friction makes your fingers warm up. The cornstarch will absorb the oil that is loosened from the heat. When you have absorbed all of the oil possible, brush the powder off. If any of the stain remains, repeat this method.
How to Get Ink Out or Pen Stains Off of Leather
Pen ink is a dye, so it will stain leather extremely fast. Unfortunately, your leather is also dyed, so any product that dissolves the ink can also dissolve the color of your leather. If you can afford it, find a professional to help. For small stains or individuals on a budget, some rubbing alcohol can help.
Make sure to test the rubbing alcohol on a small spot first to make sure that it does not damage the leather.
Using a cotton ball, apply some rubbing alcohol onto the ink stain. Use circular motions to gently rub it into the stain. Before long, the stain should begin to disappear. Since this will remove some of the leather’s moisture, make sure to apply leather conditioner afterward.
Cleaning White Leather
When cleaning white leather, never use bleach or ammonia because they will damage the fabric. Instead, use some water, mild soap and a few drops of vinegar. Dampen a cloth with this mixture before wiping down the leather.
For a natural alternative white leather cleaner, try using a mixture of ¼ cup vinegar and ½ cup olive oil. Spray the mixture on the stain, allow it to sit for five minutes and wipe it off. Ideally, wipe up spills as they happen so that they are less likely to stain. Wiping down leather every few days with a dry cloth can help to prevent smudges and light soiling.
As you see, using some basic ingredients, it is quite easy to clean leather at home. Remember to never expose leather to direct sunlight and avoid any harsh chemicals.
After cleaning, always apply a leather conditioner so that the fabric remains supple and soft.