Make Your Own Leather Food

Miss Thrifty9 January 31, 2013

homemade leather food

Homemade leather food was one of the first posts I ever published on Miss Thrifty, nearly five years ago (yikes) when readers were still in single digits. Homemade leather food takes seconds to make, saves lots of pounds and I mixed up my latest batch today, so thought it was worth a repost.

The leather sofa and armchair in our front room are hand-me-downs from a kind relative, and are more than 20 years old. Of course the thing with leather is, you have to feed it. If you don’t – and this applies to furniture in particular – it dries out and cracks.

This is where leather food comes in, and it is great stuff: a mixture of oils and waxes, you rub it in with a cloth and it keeps leather clean, soft and sleek. The only downside is that it doesn’t come cheap, costing up to £8 a pot. You can buy leather wipes from the supermarket and these do the same job, but at £2.80 for a pack of 24, they don’t work out particularly economical either.

So here is how to make your own leather food, for pennies.

You will need:

Linseed oil. 

White vinegar.

Two soft, clean cloths.

Add two parts oil to one part vinegar. Make up the quantity you need, but note that a little goes a long way. I find that two capfuls of oil and one of vinegar are sufficient for a three-seater sofa.

I buy white vinegar in bulk from Summer Naturals, because I have so many different uses for it around the house. If you don’t have linseed oil in the house, you can pick up a bottle from Amazon or your local DIY store for as little as £2. Raw linseed oil will do just fine, but boiled linseed oil is ok too, if that is what you have lying around: the only difference is that the boiled stuff is thicker, and dries more quickly.

You can make this up in a cup or a small mixing bowl from the kitchen: it’s only oil and vinegar, so it washes up easily.

To use, rub the mixture into the leather with the first soft, clean cloth. Leave it for a few minutes, then buff with the second cloth.

And that’s it! You’ll notice the difference immediately: even aged leather comes up soft and shiny.


Image credit: The U.S. National Archives.

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9 Responses to “Make Your Own Leather Food

Esther says:

Just discovered your wonderful site! Would that work for a vintage designer bag?

January 31, 2013 at 9:47 am

Miss Thrifty says:

Yes, absolutely! If it’s a patent leather bag, you can just use olive oil instead. 🙂

January 31, 2013 at 10:02 am

Esther says:


February 1, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Jorge Goias says:

Would this Wonderful Recipe work For a pair of Football Boots? I assume it would, but i would rather be safe, than sorry.

June 8, 2013 at 2:43 am

Miss Thrifty says:

Oh, I shouldn’t see why not! It’s very gentle, so little chance of ruining anything even if it doesn’t work as intended.

June 10, 2013 at 10:12 pm says:

What sort of white vinegar do you use. Does it matter Apple, Wine .? Can not get malt vinegar in Slovenia.

May 30, 2016 at 12:04 pm

Miss Thrifty says:

I use white vinegar in big 5-litre bottles from It isn’t food grade vinegar. However if you aren’t a vinegar nut like me, any type of white (clear) vinegar would do – I’d go for white wine vinegar.

June 5, 2016 at 12:30 am

Nathan says:

Just so you know boiled linseed oil and raw linseed oil are not the same, boiled linseed oil has a hand full of nasty chemicals added to it to make it dry faster. Raw linseed oil is just the oil pressed from flax seeds.

October 16, 2016 at 8:04 am

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