How To Make Your Own Polish | Anyclean

updated: 29/10/2023


Polishes for leather, wood and metal are some of the last chemical cleaners to go. Nobody really wants to risk ruining a good pair of shoes or a leather upholstered sofa (or the leather seats of a favourite car) by using the wrong sort of polish. The same applies to jewellery.

Well, don’t panic. How do you think people got by in the past? Leather, wood and metal have been used in homes ever since we had homes. Often, the leather, wood and metal were used to make the homes.

This is not to say that modern humans have cornered the market in nasty chemicals – after all, people used to think nothing of lead paint all over the show, including the face – but most of the polishes and house cleaners used in the past did the job and were made with what folk had to hand, which was usually benign. Only rich people could afford horrible poisonous chemicals.

And since then, we’ve had the chance to develop ways to make good polish that works and doesn’t contain nasty chemicals. These methods can be applied for floor cleaning too. Here are a few:

To polish leather:

Leather can be cleaned with warm soapy water. Put the warm soapy water on with one cloth, then rinse it off with a second cloth dampened in fresh water (warm or cold). Any of the following should work as a polish:

* A blend of olive oil and vinegar in equal proportions. Use the leftover as salad dressing.

* 1 part of vinegar to two parts linseed oil.

* castor oil (dark coloured leather only)

* petroleum jelly (Vaseline) for light coloured leather.

All polishes should be applied sparingly with one cloth, then buffed up with another cloth.

To polish wood:

These polishes should be applied with a soft cloth, then left for a few minutes to sink into the wood. After leaving, buff them dry and shiny with another soft cloth.

* Linseed oil – all cricketers know how good this is for cricket bats. It’s good for other wood too (note: don’t over-oil a cricket bat. It weakens the handle).

* A 50-50 mixture of olive oil (or any other vegetable oil) and vinegar.

* 1 part beeswax, melted and stirred into 4 parts linseed oil. Add a bit of essential oil, if you like.

* Very strong tea, left to steep for 3 days, can be used to stain and polish dark wood.

* 1 part of lemon juice to 2 parts olive oil.

To polish metal:

This really depends on the metal, of course, as each type has its own properties, as you probably learned in high school science class.

* Copper and brass: Mix salt and vinegar to a paste. Apply to the metal, then leave for five minutes. Clean off with a damp cloth, rubbing hard as you go.

* Stainless steel: Rub it hard with a vinegar-soaked cloth to get rid of those white water/soap spots. Cutlery can be dunked into a solution of 2 T baking soda in a pint or so of boiling water – buff them dry after soaking 10 minutes, but don’t burn yourself getting them out.

* Silver: Line a bowl with aluminium foil (or dig out that old aluminium saucepan that you shouldn’t really be using to cook food in but haven’t got around to recycling yet). Add in some boiling water and a generous dollop of baking soda. Drop the silver in and leave it in the water for 5 minutes. Fish the silver out with tongs to save burning your fingers, then buff the silver dry. If the silverware has a lot of decorative engravings that are prone to tarnishing, scrub the tarnish out with a toothbrush.

* Gold should just be washed in warm soapy water to remove the grease, or else cleaned with toothpaste. Toothpaste is better, as it rinses off without leaving a residue.

About the author 

Nick Vassilev

Nick blogs about cleaning. He is a cleaning expert with more than 25 years of experience. He is also an NCCA-certified carpet cleaner. Founder and CEO of Anyclean.