DIY Network

Tips for Cleaning Leather

Linda Cobb, the Queen of Clean, explains how to protect leather from elements. She includes several tips, techniques and recipes for keeping leather in top shape.

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protecting leather from the elements

Linda Cobb, the host of Spruce It Up With the Queen of Clean: Inside the Castle, reveals the best ways to protect and clean leather:

Leather should be kept out of direct sunlight.

Leather should be cleaned regularly. First, use a soft cloth or micro-fiber cloth to dust the surface. Saddle soap works beautifully on leather.

Another option for cleaning leather is to take a damp cloth, wipe it across moisturizing soap and lather the leather. Don’t rinse -- buff for a nice shine.

Remember: When removing spots from leather, always test any cleaning method on an out-of-the-way spot first.
One tip for removing spots from leather is to dip a cotton swab into rubbing alcohol and rub the spot. This can work for removing ink spots as well. If this doesn’t work, you can use non-oily cuticle remover. (Note: That is cuticle remover, not nail-polish remover.) Leave it on overnight and wipe it off with a damp cloth.

To remove normal spots from leather, use the following Royal homemade recipe:

1 part lemon juice
1 part cream of tartar

Simply work the paste into the spot with a soft cloth, and if soils remain after working it in, let it sit for a few hours. Come back and apply a little more paste, work it in and wipe clean.

Water spots can be removed from leather by moistening the area again with a little water, then letting it dry or gently blowing dry. Never place leather in the sun to dry.

To remove road salt from leather (could be on shoes, coat, etc.), try this simple recipe:

1 part water
1 part white vinegar

Take a cloth and dip into the solution, then blot over the shoes or coat lightly to remove the salt. This may have to be repeated several times to clean the entire surface. When you finish they should look almost like new. Be sure to wipe leather shoes with a damp cloth frequently, and keep them well polished with a paste.

To keep leather supple, use the following homemade recipe (a Hide Food concoction) from the Queen:

1 part white vinegar
2 parts linseed oil
Jar with a lid

Pour the solution into a jar with a lid, shake well and apply to the leather with a soft cloth. Let it sit for 12 hours and buff. If the cloth starts to soil, be sure to change it often. Store the leftover solution for future usage.

Removing spots on suede is a whole different problem. For suede shoes, try an art gum eraser first and if that doesn’t do the trick, use undiluted white vinegar on a soft cloth, and be sure to blot -- never rub when cleaning suede. Once the spot is gone, take a shoe brush and rework the nap of the suede. Let dry.

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