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How to Clean Your Leather Jacket or Coat Naturally

Cynthia is a writer, artist, and teacher. She loves studying language, arts, and culture, and sharing that knowledge.

Leather is a classy and long-lasting addition to anyone's wardrobe, but it's important to remember to clean and condition your leather often to keep it from aging prematurely. Still, most people don't carry leather conditioner in the cabinet.

In the article below, I'll show you an easy way to clean your leather jacket, coat, shoes, or sofa (any leather, really) using natural ingredients you can find in your kitchen.

How to Clean a Leather Jacket Naturally

Before going to town on your leather piece, be sure to test a small, inconspicuous area to make sure the solution won't stain the material.

Ingredients

  • Juice from one lemon, or 3 to 4 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Paper towels
  • Optional: tea tree essential oil

Instructions

  1. Dab the paper towel in the olive oil. Then, dab it in the lemon juice.
  2. Apply the solution to the material. You will notice that the leather absorbs the oil.
  3. When the paper towel gets try, dab it with more lemon juice and olive oil.
  4. Continue this process until you have covered all of the leather. Try to use the same paper towel for the whole process, as it will get more oily and allow you to oil the jacket more evenly.
  5. Optional: Add 5 to 6 drops of tea tree essential oil to the same paper towel, and apply it to the material. This will make the leather smell great and repel bacteria and mold.

Let the jacket sit for a while before wearing to let the leather absorb the solution.

Note: This method works fine in a pinch. However, if the jacket is very dry, use mink oil or oil containing beeswax. Also, if you warm up the leather in the sun or using a heating vent, the oil will seep into the leather more effectively.

Clean Other Types of Leather

Shoes

I've used the following method to clean different pairs of leather shoes. The process does not work well on suede.

  1. Dip a paper towel into some lemon juice and rub it into the leather on your shoes.
  2. Once you have rubbed on the lemon juice, go over it with olive oil.
  3. Dab a new paper towel in the olive oil and polish the leather

Couches or Sofas

  1. Sprinkle lemon juice onto your couch, then take a rag and wipe it down.
  2. Put the olive oil on the same rag and wipe down the couch again.

I do this with my own leather couches, and they have been just fine. However, if you are concerned about conditioning your couch according to industry standards, you can try either mink oil or a commercial leather cleaner. These aren't nearly as environmentally friendly, though.

Another Benefit of Using Olive Oil

One of the added benefits you can enjoy from cleaning your leather with olive oil is good skin. As a matter of fact, olive oil is really good for your skin! When you're cleaning your jacket, don't worry about the oil and lemon juice getting on your hands. The lemon juice gets rid of dirt and grime, and the olive oil conditions and moisturizes your hands.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2012 Cynthia Calhoun

Comments

julie lin wickham on March 26, 2018:

thx 4 all the tips

going to clean my shoes now

Mrs Kimberly D Young on February 18, 2018:

Thank you, for the leather cleaning tips!

Liam Leather from Europe on May 15, 2017:

Great input on how to clean leather clothing on our own. Great tips, thx!

Valene from Missouri on June 30, 2016:

This is great. I have a leather jacket and a leather purse and always wondered how to best clean them.

Sachin on February 07, 2016:

I have been searching for the natural way to do the same.Let me try first and will post the update later.

tnx

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on March 27, 2015:

Hey Jonathan,

Well, the worst case scenario first: you try the lemon juice and mink oil (be sure to test in a hard-to-see spot, first!) and it doesn't work. Keep in mind, the mink oil will "stain" the leather if it's old and worn already. As the leather absorbs the mink oil, it'll lose some of that darker stain color.

But, if it doesn't work, you can always take it to be professionally cleaned. :-)

Jonathan on March 27, 2015:

Hello! I just purchased a vintage brown leather jacket, but it has a pretty harsh cigarette scent on it. Will the combination of lemon juice and mink oil clean the jacket and get rid of this scent? Thank you in advance for your time and help.

HGaname on October 28, 2014:

Thanks again!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on October 27, 2014:

Hmm. Actually, I like to go back to the actual mink oil. That has worked for me - but I'd say it depends on the leather type, how old, how brittle - a lot of factors, actually. You can test in a small, unseen area and see if the mink oil works for it.

Thanks for comin' by!

HGamame on October 23, 2014:

Hi again, Do you have any natural ways to waterproof leather jackets? I'm really a fan of yours now! Thanks!

HGaname on October 23, 2014:

THIS IS FANTASTIC!!! I hve a really expensive leather jacket that I thought I ruined over 2 years ago when I tried to clean it with saddle soap. It was really bad...two colors and I thouhgt beyond repair. I took it out of the attic and cleaned it with the olive oil and lemon oil, (two things I always have at home), and it looks "almost new"! THANK-YOU for giving my jacket new life!! :)

Indubitably on April 07, 2013:

Indubitably

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 06, 2012:

DMVmimay - Enjoy your new jacket! :) I love "new leather" smell. Hehe. Thanks for stopping by!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 06, 2012:

Vicki - Have fun! Hehe. I have to get my jacket back out and clean it, too.

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on September 05, 2012:

I must save this. I need to clean my long leather jacket that I've had forever!!! Thanks! Pinning!

DMVmimay on September 05, 2012:

Great hub Cyndi. very useful, im planning to buy a leather jacket maybe by this month and this tips are good, thanks for sharing this. cleaning make it easy :)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 04, 2012:

Sharon - revive that jacket! LOL. Yes, tea tree oil has many wonderful properties, including heading off toothaches. :D Hehe. You're so funny - you always make me smile! :D

Sharon Smith from Northeast Ohio USA on September 04, 2012:

Good tips. I have not taken care of my leather jacket. Maybe I can revive it using lemon juice and olive oil. Also, I love the idea of "heating" the jacket, makes sense. And the tree oil, didn't you use that for something else we spoke about? A toothache or something like that?

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 04, 2012:

Kelley - yeah, I'd rather try natural stuff if I can because it just seems better for everyone involved. :) Thank you so much for the shares and yes, it's a lucky jacket. :D

Just Ask Susan - very cool! Yeah, just test a little spot to be sure your jacket reacts to the oil okay, but my jacket just LOVES it. Hehe. Thank you for stopping by!

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on September 04, 2012:

So glad to read your hub. I have a leather jacket that I have gotten cleaned before at a dry cleaners but it needs to be done again and rather than send it out I'll try your natural solution.

kelleyward on September 04, 2012:

What a useful hub! I love replacing harsh chemicals with natural items. I'm booking marking this on bo.it, sharing it on Twitter, and voted this up across the board. What a lucky jacket you have :). Take care, Kelley

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on June 11, 2012:

Mr. Happy, hey thanks for stopping by at another of my hubs. I appreciate you! This works great if your leather isn't too dry. Otherwise, go with the mink oil. Thanks again. Cheers!

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on June 10, 2012:

This is interesting information. I might give the olive oil and lemon juice technique a try on my leather jacket.

Thank You for the tip. Cheers!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on June 08, 2012:

Rolly - hey, thanks for stopping by! An old biker again? Really! Cool! I can totally see you doing that along with those fireside chats. :) You're awesome! Hugs back to you!

Rolly A Chabot from Alberta Canada on June 07, 2012:

Hi CC... great hub. I have had an old leather motocycle jacket I have had for years that could use some good old fashioned TLC... it served me well and you just never know I may become an old biker again some day...

Hugs from Canada

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on March 14, 2012:

jafruminc - thank you so much for visiting and commenting. :)

jafruminc from Charlotte, North Carolina, USA on March 14, 2012:

Wow that is great! Keep it up!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on March 13, 2012:

jafruminc - thanks for stopping by! I definitely have kept my own leather jacket for 14 years! :)

jafruminc from Charlotte, North Carolina, USA on March 13, 2012:

Definitely cclitgirl! This will let your leather jacket stay long.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on March 11, 2012:

jafruminc - thank you for stopping by! Which reminds me...I should go polish up that leather jacket. :)

jafruminc from Charlotte, North Carolina, USA on March 11, 2012:

Thank you for sharing. This is definitely a great help for all leather-users out there like me. Great hub!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 02, 2012:

Wow, thanks Brett for SHARING. It's great to see you. I'm all about doing things on the cheap: I'm a teacher. :D

Brett C from Asia on February 02, 2012:

Up and useful, your ideas are natural and cheap :-). I guess it is pretty similar to looking after skin at the end of the day.

Thanks, SOCIALLY SHARED.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on January 31, 2012:

I love coconut oil, Vinaya. Coconut oil is so good for the skin, too! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. :)

Vinaya Ghimire from Nepal on January 30, 2012:

I use lemon juice and coconut oil to clean my leather items. Thanks for sharing your tips.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on January 30, 2012:

OMG, Nell - I had a leather sofa and my dog sat on it - bad idea. It smelled like organic chemical warfare or something. We relegated them to the porch. For awhile, I dumped baking soda and apple cider vinegar on it - that was the only thing that would make the smell go away. But, I got tired of dealing with it. hehehe. You're right - I'm never getting a leather couch again. :)

Nell Rose from England on January 30, 2012:

Hi, great ideas, I love my leather jackets too! I wrote a hub about smelly leather furniture, and cleaning, never ever get a leather sofa! it stinks! lol! but my leather jackets could do with a good overhall so this is great! thanks!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on January 30, 2012:

Thanks, alocisin. I was hoping this hub wouldn't be too terrible...I was having trouble coming up with ideas, but I have #50 written. Will post soon. :)

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on January 29, 2012:

This is great and inexpensive, and just the thing to use on my leather jacket. Voting this Up and Useful.