ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Clean Your Leather Jacket or Coat Naturally

Updated on July 30, 2016
My leather jacket - all clean and conditioned.
My leather jacket - all clean and conditioned. | Source

Clean and Condition Your Leather

Leather is one of those materials that can last a long time and adds a touch of class to anyone's wardrobe.

It's important to clean and condition your leather to keep it from aging prematurely.

If you condition it a couple times per year, it shouldn't dry out (unless you live in a particularly dry climate, in which case three times per year should suffice).

But, I know I don't always store leather conditioner in the cabinet.

I found an easy way to clean your leather jacket - this works for shoes and even the sofa! - using ingredients from the kitchen cupboard.


Click thumbnail to view full-size
Help a tired-looking leather jacket come back to life by cleaning it with natural products.All you need are olive oil, a lemon, paper towels (preferably recycled) and as an option, you can use tea tree oil.An easy way to get the juice out of a lemon is to use a plastic "juicer".  Just stick in the lemon, squeeze and pour the juice into a container.Put some olive oil and lemon juice on a paper towel.Begin cleaning the jacket.  Don't forget to get all the nooks and crannies.You can see added sheen from the olive oil as you clean and condition your jacket.As an optional step, you can use tea tree essential oil.Add 5-6 drops all over the paper towel.  Then run on your jacket.
Help a tired-looking leather jacket come back to life by cleaning it with natural products.
Help a tired-looking leather jacket come back to life by cleaning it with natural products. | Source
All you need are olive oil, a lemon, paper towels (preferably recycled) and as an option, you can use tea tree oil.
All you need are olive oil, a lemon, paper towels (preferably recycled) and as an option, you can use tea tree oil. | Source
An easy way to get the juice out of a lemon is to use a plastic "juicer".  Just stick in the lemon, squeeze and pour the juice into a container.
An easy way to get the juice out of a lemon is to use a plastic "juicer". Just stick in the lemon, squeeze and pour the juice into a container. | Source
Put some olive oil and lemon juice on a paper towel.
Put some olive oil and lemon juice on a paper towel. | Source
Begin cleaning the jacket.  Don't forget to get all the nooks and crannies.
Begin cleaning the jacket. Don't forget to get all the nooks and crannies. | Source
You can see added sheen from the olive oil as you clean and condition your jacket.
You can see added sheen from the olive oil as you clean and condition your jacket. | Source
As an optional step, you can use tea tree essential oil.
As an optional step, you can use tea tree essential oil. | Source
Add 5-6 drops all over the paper towel.  Then run on your jacket.
Add 5-6 drops all over the paper towel. Then run on your jacket. | Source

Cleaning Your Leather Jacket

Before cleaning the whole leather piece, be sure to test a small inconspicuous area to make sure it won't turn an undesired color or stain.

What You Will Need:

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

Cleaning Your Jacket:

  1. Dab or put a little bit of olive oil on a paper towel. Then, dab it in the lemon juice. Begin applying to the jacket. As you apply, you'll notice that the leather absorbs the oil quite readily.
  2. Each time you make a few passes up and down the jacket and the paper towel seems "dry," dab it with more lemon juice and olive oil.
  3. Continue this process until you have done this with the whole jacket. Try to use the same paper towel for the whole process: it will get more oily and help you to oil the jacket a little more evenly.
  4. When you're finished, as an optional step, using the same paper towel (because it will be oily) as before, take some tea tree oil and add 5-6 drops (a little goes a long way) across the paper towel. Wipe the jacket - it will smell wonderful. The tea tree helps repel bacteria and mold.

Let the jacket rest for awhile before wearing to be sure the leather has absorbed all of the oil and is not greasy to the touch.

NOTE: This method works fine in a pinch. I've had my jacket since 1998 and this is primarily how I've cared for it. However, I am noticing that it is a bit dry from years of use and a mink oil treatment is in order. I will use oil containing beeswax to use as natural a product as possible. If you heat your leather - in the sun or hung over a heater vent for just enough time to warm the jacket, mink oil (as well as all oil) will seep into the leather more effectively.

NOTE 2: When I began cleaning this jacket, I found $23 dollars in it. It's a lucky jacket!

An Added Benefit Of Using Olive Oil

It's 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 cuts dirt and grime and the olive oil also conditions your hands.

Clean Other Types Of Leather

I have used this method to clean different pairs of leather shoes. However, the process is a little different and does not work well on suede.

  1. Dip a paper towel into some lemon juice and "clean" the leather on your shoes.
  2. Then, once you have cleaned the shoes, go over them with olive oil. Dab a new paper towel in the olive oil and "polish" your shoes.

You Can Try This On Leather Couches, Too

Before you try this on your expensive leather, though, just be sure to test a small area to be sure it doesn't stain or otherwise turn the leather on your couch an undesired color.

This is the same idea as above. However, you will need more olive oil and lemon juice. At this point, I'll just use a bottle of lemon juice, unless I want to squeeze 3 or 4 lemons. Then, I'll sprinkle it on the couch and take a rag and wipe it down. Then, I'll put olive oil on the same rag and wipe the couch down again.

I do this with my own leather couches and they have been just fine.

However, if you are really concerned about "perfectly conditioning" your couch, you can try either mink oil or a commercial leather cleaner (though I will point out that they often aren't nearly as environmentally friendly as using products from your kitchen - I try to be green!).

© 2012 Cynthia Sageleaf

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Valene profile image

      Valene 13 months ago from Missouri

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

    • profile image

      Sachin 18 months ago

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

      tnx

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 2 years ago from Western NC

      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. :-)

    • profile image

      Jonathan 2 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      HGaname 2 years ago

      Thanks again!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 2 years ago from Western NC

      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!

    • profile image

      HGamame 2 years ago

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

    • profile image

      HGaname 2 years ago

      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!! :)

    • profile image

      Indubitably 4 years ago

      Indubitably

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

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

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

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

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

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

    • profile image

      DMVmimay 4 years ago

      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 :)

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

      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

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      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?

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

      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!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      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.

    • profile image

      kelleyward 4 years ago

      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

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      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 profile image

      Mr. Happy 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      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!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      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 profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      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

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

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

    • jafruminc profile image

      jafruminc 5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

      Wow that is great! Keep it up!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

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

    • jafruminc profile image

      jafruminc 5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

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

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

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

    • jafruminc profile image

      jafruminc 5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

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

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      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.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

      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.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

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

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

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

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      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 profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      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!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      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. :)

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

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