How To Clean Leather With Basic Home Products - Doing It Yourself

How To Clean Leather With Basic Home Products – Doing It Yourself

how to clean leather binding-black-close-up-dark

Leather is a curious material.

It has been around since the BC era, and is made from animal rawhides. Leather is used in a variety of products, including the fashion industry, bookbinding for books, and can also serve as a furniture cover. Leather is durable and flexible, while also being strong.

There are many ways to use leather today, and even different kinds of leather products: full-grain, corrected grain, nubuck, split, or bonded. Each of the varieties is used for a different purpose, providing different appearances or hardness.

All this said, we can agree that leather is a nicer material. But sometimes, nicer materials come with drawbacks, and there is one with leather: cleaning.

Anyone, when concerning high-end materials like leather, will be inclined to seek out professional care for any cleaning needed, and this isn’t a bad thing to do. Most people prefer not to clean items if they don’t have to. The only problem, really, is cost.

So, if you’d like to save a good chunk of cash, doing it yourself can be a big boost. Going through the cleaning motions yourself has its perks, and leather will benefit from them.

There is a common misconception that cleaning leather is a long, expensive process. But in fact, there are simple solutions that you can use, which are probably found around your house right now.

Leather Is An Investment, So Knowing How To Clean It Is Important

Before we get into the best products for cleaning your leather, it’s necessary to know what to avoid first. There are a lot of misconceptions with what you may be able to use on your leather products, so we’re here to put those to rest.

Certain cleaners may sound good in theory, but once applied will turn a beautiful leather sofa into a gritty, colorless couch.

For starters, you’ll want to avoid cleaners that really don’t do much. One good example of this is oil soap. While it may be a gentle product, the overall application will stain and darken any leather it encounters. 

Another product you might be inclined to try is any old mild dish soap. This cleaner will remove dirt and debris from any leather material, but in doing so will also take away the color itself!

We mention both together because they act in conjunction, and you might want to try them together. This is not recommended, as the oil will stain any leather, and the soap or detergent you choose to use will dry out the material, cracking it.

Protection From The Start Can Help With Cleaning In The Future

You can prevent problems from occurring by protecting your leather before anything happens. There are simple treatments to help with this, and reapplying every three months or so will keep

Lastly, one way to keep your leather lively is avoiding big temperature differences.

Keeping away from direct sunlight as much as possible will save you leather as, just like soaps, the sun will cause your leather to dry or crack, which is often irreparable. 

You’ll want to avoid any air conditioners or radiators, too, as they represent the same extreme conditions that aren’t ideal. Knowing how to clean leather allows you to use that knowledge in other avenues, too.

Home Products That Work To Clean Leather

Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid Dish Soap, Original Scent, 8 oz
  • Contains 3X more grease-cleaning power (cleaning ingredients per drop vs. the leading competitor's non-concentrated...
  • Concentrated formula helps you get through more dishes with less dishwashing liquid
  • Original Scent

So, you really want to know how to clean leather? First, you’ll have to pick a good product. One of the first liquids that anyone should try is Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid Dish Soap.

You can find this soap anywhere, and more than likely already have something like it under your kitchen sink. Combining this with warm water in a boil–not a lot, maybe just a teaspoon–can remove your basic dirt or dust.

You will dip a clean, white cloth into the mixture and wipe down the leather. Immediately after you’ll want to dry it with a dry cloth. Another fun idea to try for cleaning any spoiled leather is the combination of ice cubes and a plastic bag.

This cold cleaning method can be used to remove any chewy substances from your leather-based goods, ensuring to residue marks remain. Simply fill a zippered sandwich bag with ice and place it on the necessary area for a few minutes.

After, use your finger or a spoon to scoop up the now-hardened material. Just remember to keep the ice from melting and potentially spilling all over the leather.

Preventing Or Extinguishing Mildew Issues On Your Leather

Dealing with mildew problems? If so, rubbing alcohol can be your savior. Even though it seems harsh to use for cleaning purposes, the substance can be combined with a little bit of water to remove different stains.

Keeping your cleaning technique to blotting, simply combine some rubbing alcohol with a damp, white cloth and dab the area. You can even use it on cotton balls to remove ink stains. You’ll want to test it on an area of your leather first to make sure it’s compatible with the finish.

Ever thought about just vacuuming your leather with a brush attachment? It seems silly, but the attachment’s bristles will be hard enough to remove dust, dirt, or debris from the leather, yet soft enough to not cause any damage on the material itself.

Combing the vacuuming method with distilled water is a good way to remove the base-layer dirtiness from your leather.

Chemical Guys Leather Cleaner and Conditioner Complete Leather Care...
  • Complete kit to clean and condition leather
  • Easily wipe away contaminants without harming leather
  • pH balanced for the most efficient cleaning

Some Natural Remedies You Can Try

We mentioned before that crazy mixtures of substances aren’t necessarily the best way to clean your leather. This is still the case, but depending upon your leather product, you can try certain remedies.

For starters, if you like the smell of lemon juice, and have cream of tartar in your pantry, then mixing together the two in an equal-parts mixture should be easy. This cleaner will work into a paste, and gently rub onto any problem areas with a soft cloth.


Image via Pixabay

If you’re needing to keep your leather looking buffed and natural, then a mixture of white vinegar and linseed oil can accomplish this.

It’s your standard one-part vinegar, two-parts oil solution, and all it needs to do is sit for 12 hours on the leather. Once done soaking, you’re free to buff the area with a standard microfiber cloth.

If you feel that your leather products are developing a salty hue or coating, then applying some water and white vinegar should remove that layer.

Tips Of Keeping Your Leather Alive

One of the best ways to avoid having to break down and clean your leather is simply keeping it free of spills or stains.


Image via Pixabay

This, of course, is easier said than done, but is doable. One quick and easy solution, should an accident occur, is simply a damp cloth. The cloth is a versatile tool that’s been around for centuries, and water won’t harm the leather if you let it fully dry.

Just make sure you don’t use too much water. A common mistake people will make when trying to clean spots themselves do it with using more water than necessary.

Remember to always–no joke here, always–spot-test before you start any cleaning endeavor. Even though leather is all, technically, the same material doesn’t mean it will be affected by the same cleaning product in the same way.

It’s based on delicate material, so knowing how to clean leather the right way will make sure it survives well into the future.

How To Clean Leather, The Right Way

What’s the most important thing when cleaning leather? Testing a substance before you apply it all over will keep any disasters from happening. Fancy, homemade concoctions aren’t always the answer.

They can be tried, however, and if they aren’t successful than the milder soap or water mixture is almost always the better option.


Image via Pixabay

A good idea when you have leather to maintain is keeping some soft, white microfiber cloths readily available for use, in case of emergency. After all, most “cleaning” happens once a problem has risen.

Being prepared can keep any disasters contained. Once you have been able to clean an area or leather item, you can always buy an aftermarket leather conditioner to keep your leather looking first-day fresh after years of use.

Not everyone chooses to condition their products, and it does vary based upon the finishing material on your leather–a different topic altogether–but can aid in keeping it tidy.

Besides, the amount of work that will go into keeping your leather products safe and looking good will be well worth it down the road.

Who doesn’t want clean stuff?

Featured Image via Pexels

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *