Inexpensive and Effective Homemade Leather Cleaner Recipe

How to Clean Leather With Something Around the House

Inexpensive and Effective Homemade Leather Cleaner Recipe

By Chris Deziel Updated December 28, 2018

Leather is infused with natural oils that provide its natural sheen; upsetting the balance of these oils while cleaning it adversely affects its appearance.

That doesn't mean you need specialty cleaning products, though. You can maintain leather and treat stains with common household detergents and cleaning agents such as vinegar.

Moreover, you can restore a leather finish with household oils, such as flax seed and coconut oil.

A one-to-one solution of white vinegar and water is an effective cleaner for your leather sofas and chairs. After removing dust with a vacuum and an upholstery attachment, moisten a microfiber cloth in the solution and use the cloth to wipe down the leather; then dry it with a soft cloth.

This treatment may dull the finish, but there's an easy way to restore it. Mix one part white vinegar with two parts flaxseed oil; rub this solution into the leather using another clean cloth, and let it sit overnight.

In the morning, you'll be able to buff the leather to a shiny finish.

Dark stains on light-colored furniture often come out with lemon juice. Mix the juice with cream of tartar to make a paste; spread it on the stain and leave it for about 10 minutes before wiping it off with a damp sponge.

Baking soda absorbs grease stains; dust it on a stain, and when you wipe off the baking soda after a few hours, the stain should be gone. If you live in a humid climate, mold and mildew can be a problem.

Remove these stains with a one-to-one solution of rubbing alcohol and water.

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The key to maintaining leather furniture and garments is to periodically replenish the natural oils that repel moisture. If you don't have flaxseed oil, you can also condition leather with coconut oil; it's hypoallergenic and won't spoil.

Clean the leather first, using vinegar and water or an ounce of dish detergent in cool water. Rub in the oil with a soft rag.

To avoid excess absorption, the leather should be at room temperature, and the only heat should come from your hands and the friction created by the movement of the cloth.

You can remove permanent marker stains from leather by spraying them with hair spray. Hair spray might also remove ballpoint pen marks, but if not, rub these out with eucalyptus oil or rubbing alcohol.

Vinegar and water may remove salt stains on leather clothing left by perspiration, but these stains often require professional cleaning. Ammonia generally isn't safe for leather, but it can remove bloodstain. Mix one part ammonia to three parts water; rub the solution on the stain and immediately flush with water.

Acetone also harms leather, but it may be the only cleaner that will remove some types of glue. You may have to re-dye the leather after using it.

About the Author

Chris Deziel has a bachelor's degree in physics and a master's degree in humanities. Besides having an abiding interest in popular science, Deziel has been active in the building and home design trades since 1975. As a landscape builder, he helped establish two gardening companies.


This Is The Cheapest Way To Make Your Car Look Brand New

Inexpensive and Effective Homemade Leather Cleaner Recipe

While it can be tricky to keep the floors in your home clean during the wet winter months, it’s nothing compared to how dirty you car’s floors can get! My car’s floor mats are caked in a layer of dirt, debris, and road salt after a winter of non-stop snowstorms.

Related: DIY Armor All Wipes

But thankfully, the weather has been warming up in the past couple of weeks. And now that the sun is out, I’ve been thinking that it’s high time I give the inside of my car some much needed TLC! So today I’ll be sharing an easy recipe for a great DIY car upholstery cleaner, just in case your car could use a good cleaning as well. 🙂

Why Make Your Own Car Upholstery Cleaner?

There are a couple of reasons why it’s worth going the DIY route to clean the interior of your car.

The first reason is that it’s surprisingly easy! You only need a few simple ingredients to make this cleaner, and it doesn’t actually take that long to use it.

In just an hour or two, this cleaner will leave your car looking as clean as the day you drove it off the lot at the dealer.

My other favorite thing about this particular cleaning solution is that it’s really affordable! The ingredients are very inexpensive, AND you’ll be saving a small fortune by doing the actual cleaning yourself.

(Have you ever paid to have your car’s interior detailed? It can easily cost upwards of $100!) Using this DIY approach will leave your car’s interior clean and fresh without emptying your wallet in the process.

So let’s get down to business, shall we? 🙂

How To Make A DIY Car Upholstery Cleaner

You’ll need:

3 Tbsp grated Fels Naptha soap
2 Tbsp borax 2-4 cups boiling water*

10 drops lavender essential oil (optional)

Sponge or scrub brush
Clean, damp cloths

*Note: If your car’s interior is really dirty or stained, use less water for a more concentrated cleaning formula. Otherwise, I’d recommend using closer to 4 cups of water for a less concentrated, easy-rinse formula.


Step 1 – Make The Cleaner

Add the soap, borax, water, and lavender oil (if using) to your bucket, then stir until the soap dissolves and the mixture is foamy.

Step 2 – Scrub

To clean cloth seats, dip a sponge into the cleaner and dab stains and soiled areas. (If you made a more concentrated cleaner, use it sparingly to make it easier to rinse later.)

To clean carpeting or floor mats, follow the same steps above but use a scrub brush instead of a sponge. Carpeting is more resilient than cloth seats are, so don’t be afraid to give them a good scrub.

Step 3 – Rinse

To rinse cloth seats, use a clean, damp cloth to absorb the loosened dirt and the cleaner the seats. I find it helpful to keep a bowl of clean water nearby while I do this so I can rinse out my damp cloth as I go. (If your upholstery is really dirty, don’t be surprised if you have to replace the dirty rinse water a few times!)

To rinse removable floor mats, it’s quicker and easier to just spray them down with your garden hose. Spray them until the dirt and soap are all rinsed away, then use a few dry towels to soak up any excess water.

Step 3 – Dry

Once you’ve rinsed out all the dirt and cleaner from your seats and/or carpets, you’re done! Find a sunny spot to let everything dry for a few hours, and reward yourself for a job well done.

Related: 17 Of The Best Cleaning Hacks For Your Car

Now, who’s up for a road trip? 😉

What’s your best tip for keeping the interior of your car clean?


DIY Leather Cleaner and Conditioner

Inexpensive and Effective Homemade Leather Cleaner Recipe

Take care of your valuable leather sofas with this DIY Leather Cleaner and Conditioner – it’s simple, effective and inexpensive!

Chances are, you have leather sofas or some type of leather furniture in your home that you clean regularly.   For me, it involves tipping the sofa forward every week and standing there in horror trying to figure out how all that stuff found its way under such a huge, heavy piece of furniture.

Seriously though.  Is it just me??

How do you get a fork, spoon, straws, legos, beads, leaves, band-aids and a hair brush down there? And don’t even get me started on the hair ties… I know now where all of our hair elastics go. 

It’s almost as if those hair ties are sofa food – and swallowed by every inch of the sofa.  After I vacuum all those things up (or throw away), we start wiping down every inch of the sofa.

Though commercial leather cleaner is an option, it’s not too inexpensive. If you are looking for cost effective ways to clean your leather sofa you can make your own leather cleaner at home with a few simple ingredients.  While it might seem easier to grab the typical 409 or Pine Sol cleaners, try to avoid using those on leather as they can damage the fibers.

Thankfully you don’t need to pick up super expensive cleaners to clean your sofa. You can make the most gentle (and effective) cleaner right at home with things you might just have in your pantry. Who doesn’t have some vinegar on hand?

DIY Leather Cleaner

  • 1/2 C. Vinegar
  • 1/2 C. Water
  • 4-5 drops Lemon Essential Oil

Before you get super adventurous with mixing a solution and getting a rag, you’ll want to tidy up the area first to prepare the sofa to get cleaned:

  • Vacuum the sofa – use your sofa attachment, which should be a soft brush.  Try to capture all the crevices as thoroughly as you can to get all the dust and grime.
  • Mix equal parts of water and vinegar in a large bowl or stainless steel pail with a clean rag.  Wring out the tag and so it’s damp (not completely wet), and wipe the entire sofa with the solution.  It’s best to start at the top and work down, taking one area at a time. Make sure you continue to rinse the cloth in the solution as you progress.
  • Dry the sofa with a clean towel.
  • Apply the essential oil and rub into the sofa to moisturize the leather focusing on the spots that need more attention.

Depending on how long you have had your sofa, or if you have little people who use your sofas at home, you may have more challenging issues getting your sofa clean.  

What About the Really Bad Stains?

And there are times when stains are inevitable.  As much as you may try to avoid them, you may encounter them on specific areas of the sofa, whether it be the seat area or the armrest.  

Here are a few common ways to conquer those stains without having to invest in expensive reupholstery or commercial cleaner:

Permanent Marker Stains:  Grab an aerosol hairspray or rubbing alcohol to try to rub the stain off. Start with something smaller a q-tip and if that is not working well, then grab a cotton ball and do a little at a time.

Mold:  Mix an equal part of water and rubbing alcohol and apply a small amount at a time.

Mildew:  Similar to mold, mix an equal part of water and rubbing alcohol, work small sections at a time and avoid using a rag that is too damp.

Dark Stains: If you have wine or tomato/ketchup stains, mix an equal amount of lemon juice and cream of tartar and apply that paste to the stain for up to 15 minutes. Then wipe clean and re-apply as needed to treat the stain.

One thing to note: When using any leather cleaner, even commercial, different leather types may respond in different ways. Commercial leather cleaner can sometimes be a bad option for some leather sofas. It’s always best to do a spot test on a hidden area before you use on the entire sofa just to ensure that your leather will be okay with the cleaner.

Lemon works well to prevent cracks and promote longevity of the leather… not to mention it makes the vinegar-y smell non-existent.   Why not Olive Oil? In most cases we have seen it noted that it can be drying over time.  

Looking for more DIYs for the home?

3 Ingredient Granite Cleaner


How To Make A Cheap Leather Sofa Cleaner That Works

Inexpensive and Effective Homemade Leather Cleaner Recipe

There are several furniture pieces in my home that I love, my leather sofa and my leather office chair.

While they are great, they seem to get the most dirt, and I’ll admit, coffee spills from me especially on my office chair.

We paid the extra money to buy the bottle of leather sofa cleaner when we bought it. It was $12. Who pays $12 for leather sofa cleaner?!!

After we quickly used it up, there was no way I was paying that again.

So during my fall clean up, I was determined to find a great leather sofa cleaner recipe that I could easily make at home.

But I was worried that it would be gentle enough for my leather sofa and office chair.

There had to be an easy DIY leather cleaner recipe that was cheaper than a store-bought cleaner. And I got it!

Vinegar is one of those great all-purpose cleaners that is also gentle. It makes for the best DIY leather cleaner for a leather sofa when diluted with water.

And, this homemade couch leather cleaner is so easy to use.

So roll up those sleeves and let’s get busy making this inexpensive leather sofa cleaner you’re gonna love!

This DIY leather cleaner recipe is made when you go to clean your leather items (sofa, purses, suitcases… whatever) because it needs to be used while the water is warm. That means you don’t want to make it up ahead of time.

Thankfully, it only takes seconds to make, minutes to use, and seconds for the leather to dry. Win! Win! Win!

Here’s what you’ll need to make the best DIY leather cleaner:

  • 4 Cups WARM Water
  • 1 Tablespoons Dish Soap
  • 1 teaspoon White Vinegar
  • 10 Drops Lemon Essential Oil (price varies) (I use the Young Living brand because of their purity promise)
  • Microfiber Cloth

Since you are not storing this liquid for future use, you do not need to have Distilled or Reverse Osmosis water for this leather sofa cleaner recipe.

Mix all of the ingredients of the leather sofa cleaner in a large bowl to thoroughly combine.

Dunk a microfiber cloth or sponge in the mixture.

Wring it out so it’s damp (not wet) and clean the leather sofa or furniture. Use entire mixture while warm. Reheat if needed.

Let dry.

See how easy this homemade couch leather cleaner really is?!

It’s not even fair to compare the cost of the leather cleaner we purchased at the furniture store. I’m sure they would say that it’s not the same product, and I understand that we might need to use a conditioner on our leather also.

Bob Villa (a home renovation expert I’ve watched on TV for over 20 years) recommends simply using 10-15 drops of Lemon Essential Oils on a clean cloth. So that’s all I do, and my furniture still looks good as new (aside from the kid and cat scratches). At least the leather hasn’t cracked yet!

Here’s how much my leather sofa cleaner costs:

  • 4 Cups WARM Water = $0
  • 1 Tablespoons Dish Soap = 13¢
  • 1 teaspoon White Vinegar = 1¢
  • 10 Drops Lemon Essential Oil (price varies)

Total Cost = 14¢ per use

You’ll be amazed at how well this homemade couch leather cleaner actually works.

It gets off all the dust and grime (and spilled coffee).

And just look at all the money you’ll save over the years not having to buy any more leather sofa cleaner from the store! Score!

Although this leather sofa cleaner recipe requires a little elbow grease, it’s a great recipe that anyone can make at home.

It’s so easy and at just 14¢ per use, there’s no way a bottle of store-bought leather cleaner can compare.

As you can see, there is an easy DIY leather cleaner recipe that is cheaper than a store-bought cleaner. Yay!

Vinegar is one of those great all-purpose cleaners that is so gentle. It makes for the best DIY leather cleaner for a leather sofa when diluted with water.

And, this homemade couch leather cleaner is so easy to use.

YOUR TURN: What else are you going to try this leather sofa cleaner on? The leather seats in your car? If you try it, please let me know in the comments below!


Top 10 Essential Oil Cleaning Recipes • The Prairie Homestead

Inexpensive and Effective Homemade Leather Cleaner Recipe

For the last year our teeny living room was our only living space as we ripped apart our 98 year-old home to make room for the extreme farmhouse remodel.

For nearly all of 2015, we ate in that room, did homeschool in that room, played in that room, relaxed (sort of…) in that room, and stored all the boxes there too.

It was nearly impossible to keep things and organized in that sort of set-up, and I’ll admit– I had more than couple melt-downs throughout the process. Ahem.

I’ve always heard people lament how hectic it can be to live in the middle of a remodel, but I had NO IDEA until I experienced it myself. Was it worth it? Yes. But hallelujah it’s almost over!

And now that the remodel is mostly done upstairs (full home tour blog post coming soon, promise!) I have this insatiable desire to clean and purge ALL THE THINGS, because everything feels extremely gross and dusty after a year-long remodel.

As compared to the average American cleaning cupboard, mine is rather “unique”. I stopped purchasing conventional cleaning products years ago, due to all the hazardous chemicals they contain, and have been using homemade essential oil cleaning recipes ever since.

Not only does adding essential oils to DIY cleaning mixes totally boost cleaning power, but it will make your home smell amazing– no artificial fragrances required.

 I get asked all the time which DIY cleaners are my favorite, so I finally decided to put them all in one place for y’all.

DIY Cleaning Recipe FAQs:

Q: What if I don’t have a certain oil called for in one of the recipes?

A: I listed my favorite essential oils for each recipe, but you can absolutely swap out oils or substitute your favorite. Some of the most powerful essential oils for cleaning are lemon, lime, wild orange, thyme, peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus, melaleuca (tea tree), rosemary, and cinnamon. Mix and match as you wish.

Q: Do I have to use glass bottles for my mixes?

A: It’s a widely known fact that essential oils can degrade plastic.

For this reason, it is generally recommended to only store oils in glass, and I always follow that rule if I plan to use the oil mixture on my skin or in a food recipe.

However, I’ve never had a problem mixing/storing my cleaning recipes in regular plastic spray bottles for two reasons: #1: The mixtures are usually quite diluted, and #2: I will not be ingesting the mixture or applying it to my body.

Q: Why can’t I use castile soap in some of these recipes?

A: If the recipe calls for vinegar, you’ll want to avoid adding castile soap to the mix, as the two substances will react and form a gloppy, slimy mess. That’s why I simply use a natural dish detergent this one  for recipes that also contain vinegar. (affiliate link)

Q: Which essential oils do you use?

A: There are new essential oil companies popping up everyday, but I’ve used doTERRA essential oils for four years now, and I’ll never go anywhere else.

The oils are third-party tested for purity, ethically sourced around the globe, and I’m proud to be associated with a company that actively works with organizations  Mentors International to help others overcome poverty, viruses, and further health risks.

I believe in this company wholeheartedly, and I’ve been sharing doTERRA oils with people non-stop since I started using them. I’m happy to personally help you get these oils in your home, too– click here to see how you can connect with me. 

Q: Are there any essential oil blends suited to cleaning?

A: Yes. Two of the doTERRA essential oil blends I use the most for cleaning are On Guard® and Purify®. They both have powerful cleansing properties and I often mix them into my DIY recipes.

1. All-Purpose Cleaner with Lemon

  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon natural dish soap (NOT castile soap)
  • 30 drops lemon essential oil
  • 20 drops melaleuca essential oil

Mix all ingredients in a quart-sized spray bottle. Shake to combine. Spray and wipe on counters, cabinets, sinks, toilets, and anywhere else.

2. Fresh Mint Window & Mirror Cleaner

  • 3 cups distilled water
  • 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol or vodka
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 20 drops peppermint or spearmint essential oil

Combine all ingredients in a quart-sized spray bottle. Shake to combine, then spray on mirrors, windows, or stainless steel. Wipe off with paper towels or old newspaper for streak-free shine.

3. Simple Citrus Soft Scrub

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup liquid castile soap 
  • 10 drops lemon essential oil
  • 10 drops lime essential oil
  • 10 drops wild orange essential oil

Mix ingredients together to form a paste (add more castile soap if needed). Apply with rag or sponge, then rinse with clean water. I especially to use this on my stovetop and on grimy sinks.

4. Deep Clean Toilet Scrub

  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1/3 cup liquid dishwashing soap
  • 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide
  • 30 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 3/4 cup water

Mix together in a squeeze-type bottle, then squirt into toilet. Scrub and let stand 20 minutes.

5. Daily Shower Spray

  • 1.

    5 cups water

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 1 teaspoon natural liquid dish soap (not castile soap)
  • 15 drops lime essential oil
  • 15 drops melaleuca (tea tree) essential oil

Combine in a quart-sized spray bottle. Spray daily on shower door and walls after use (this is a preventative spray, designed to help prevent build-up)

6. Lemon Carpet Refresher

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 30 drops lemon essential oil

Combine in a small container, and cover tightly with a lid. Shake well and allow to sit for 6-8 hours. Sprinkle on stale or smelly carpet and allow to sit on it overnight. Vacuum up the next morning.

7. Goo & Crayon Remover

  • Lemon essential oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons fractionated coconut oil or almond oil (optional)

Mix together, then apply directly to sticker residue, random goo, gum, crayon marks, etc. (Test in an inconspicuous place first, if needed) Rub in with your fingers, then wipe away with a clean rag. Repeat as needed.

8. Fresh Linen Spray

  • 1/4 cup distilled water
  • 3 tablespoons witch hazel or vodka
  • 20 drops lavender essential oil
  • 15 drops frankincense essential oil

Add all ingredients to a small spritzer, shake well, and spray on sheets, pillowcases, and linens.

9. Sweet Lavender Air Freshener

  • 3/4 cup water (I use tap water, but distilled is fine too)
  • 2 tablespoons vodka, rubbing alcohol, or real vanilla extract
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil
  • 5 drops chamomile essential oil

Combine in a 8 oz spray bottle, shake to combine. Spray throughout the house to eliminate odors or stale smells. (I have a whole bunch of other homemade air freshener combinations in this post, too)

10. Tub and Shower Gel

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup natural dishwashing liquid (not castile soap)
  • Squeeze bottle

Heat the vinegar in a small saucepan on the stove until hot (but not boiling). Carefully stir the dishwashing soap in until combined, then pour into the squeeze bottle.

Squirt onto shower and tub, and allow to sit for 1-3 hours. Wipe off with a scrubber or sponge. I’ve tried many, many DIY shower cleaning recipes, and this is the ONLY one that will easily remove our farm-scum from the tub without requiring a ton of elbow grease on my part.

It uses a lot of soap, but it’s worth it to me!