Can You Use Vinegar to Clean Leather?

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Leather looks great whether it's used in clothing, furnishings or accessories. At least it looks great until it gets stained, dirty and dull from repeated use. You can't machine-wash it, and having leather professionally cleaned can be expensive. In some cases, vinegar, a very common household item, can be used to clean and restore leather items.


Vinegar Cleaning for Tough Leather Items

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Shoes, belts and other items are often made with thick, tough leather that adds a lot of durability but can be extremely hard to clean. For tougher leathers, thoroughly dampen a clean cloth with white vinegar and rub it into the material. Let the leather absorb the vinegar before buffing it out with a fresh, clean cloth.

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Remove Salt Stains from Leather

Because leather is often used in boots, it's often a target for salt stains. Mix one part white vinegar with one part water (for example, 1 cup of each) to create a cleaning solution. Moisten a clean, light-colored cloth and use this to gently blot at the stained areas of leather. This should remove the salt stains, leaving leather looking like new again.


Use Vinegar for Cleaning and Conditioning Leather Items

Leather, a natural material, needs to retain some moisture to maintain softness and flexibility. Vinegar can be a strong cleaning agent, but it can also dry out leather items. Mix together two parts linseed oil and one part white vinegar to create a leather cleaning/conditioning solution that cleans even as it helps keep the leather soft. Apply the mixture to the leather with a soft, clean cloth, and let it sit for approximately 12 hours. Buff the leather with a clean, dry cloth -- it will be cleaner and softer once the treatment is complete.


Vinegar with Suede and Patent Leathers

Soft, fuzzy suede and glossy patent leather have unique characteristics, but vinegar can still be applied as a cleaning agent for these materials. Use a clean, soft cloth and undiluted white vinegar to blot gently at stains on suede. A brush can be used to smooth the suede once the cleaning is complete. For patent leather, dampen a cloth with white vinegar and rub gently over the dirty, stained area. Use a second, dry cloth to wipe the leather immediately afterward.


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