How to Clean Your Leather Jacket or Coat Naturally
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
Don't Feel Like Lemon Juice? Try Leather Milk
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.
- Dip a paper towel into some lemon juice and "clean" the leather on your shoes.
- 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 Calhoun