Caring for leather clothing or furniture can require expensive polish and cleaners. However, you can make your own leather cleaner and polish at home with a few simple ingredients. Homemade leather cleaner is gentle and inexpensive, and you can even keep it organic by choosing natural ingredients. Cleaning and polishing leather necessarily go hand-in-hand because dirt must be removed before you apply polish, but cleaning leather will remove its natural oils, and so must be followed up with a polishing agent.
Make a simple leather cleaner by mixing one part white vinegar to two parts linseed oil or olive oil. Alternatively, mix 1/4 cup vodka with 1/4 cup distilled vinegar and several drops of olive oil. Shake the mixture to combine the ingredients.
Clean your leather object before polishing. First rub the leather with a dry rag to remove any loose surface dirt. Apply your homemade leather cleaner with a rag and gently buff it into the leather. For difficult stains, let the mixture sit on the leather overnight. Buff the surface after it dries with a clean, dry rag.
Apply lemon juice or vinegar directly to any remaining stains, and scrub gently with a rag.
Clean greasy stains with baby shampoo and warm water if desired. Be careful with this mixture, because water can stiffen leather.
Polish your leather by rubbing olive oil, linseed oil or petroleum jelly into the surface with a clean rag. Natural oils such as olive oil or linseed oil work best for natural-finish leathers, while petroleum jelly works best for patent leather by giving it a high shine and protecting it from cracking during dry weather.
Let the leather item rest for several hours after applying polish, and perform a final polish by buffing the object again with a clean, dry rag.
Consider the type of leather and type of stain before applying homemade cleaners or polish, because different substances work differently on leather.
Always test your cleaners and polish on a small, unexposed area of the leather. Never use commercial washing powder on leather. Hire a professional to clean difficult or old stains.