Leather is a very controversial material, some admonish the material, and some demand its removal from the marketplace completely and some simply love the material. Whatever your personal views are about leather, it has been a clothing material for thousands of years and most likely will continue to be an available material for many years to come.
If you’re in the group that enjoys this material then I have several tips and tricks in keeping your leather items cared for. These suggestions will extend the viable life of your leather apparel and allow you to enjoy the items for many years to come.
Caring for leather items is as simple as this.
1. Clean the Leather
2. Condition the leather
3. Polish the leather
4. Protect the leather
And the most important aspect of protecting and extending the life of your leather garments is proper storage.
1. DUST is the number one enemy against leather longevity. Remove it regularly; every time you put on or take off a leather item you should dust it with a clean soft cloth. Dust accumulation will begin to act like sandpaper, especially in the places where two surfaces of the leather come in contact. This will begin to dry out the leather, and then form micro-cracks which will in turn develop into real cracks, exposing the internal grain to natural processes that will accelerate the deterioration of the leather.
2. You must remove any loose dirt or soil with either a soft micro-fiber towel or you can use a brush designed specifically for leather.
3. Choose a soap that is made to preserve the natural oils in the leather, certain leather soaps are designed to remove the natural oils, saddle soap is one that is readily available and probably the best known leather soap and should be avoided when cleaning leather apparel. Always check for color distortion on a inconspicuous place before using a new cleaning product. Apply the soap to a lint free cloth and gently rub your leather item in small overlapping circles, never apply the soap directly to the leather. Also, any soap that leaves a greasy or oily residue need to be avoided as the residues can promote bacterial growth and degrade your leather. Use a brush designed for leather to brush into the welts and stitching. And finally using a nubuck cleaning cloth is always a good idea.
1. You should condition your leather items occasionally. Once every other month is a good schedule on items you use regularly. Conditioning leather restores the natural fats and oils that protect and promotes the natural suppleness of the leather. You should avoid any conditioners that are petroleum, wax or silicone based. As these kinds of conditions definitely give a nice finish to the leather immediately, they will promote long term damage as they dry out the leather or clog the natural pores and stiffen and cause the leather to become brittle.
2. As with any cleaning product, test every conditioning product on an inconspicuous spot for color distortion before applying to your leather.
3. As with the cleaning products, apply your conditioner to a lint free soft dampened cloth and gently rub the conditioner into the nap of the leather. Never apply leather conditioner directly to your leather item.
4. Several light applications, with 30 minutes in between applications, are better than one large application.
1. Polishing is not necessary to extend the life of your leather item; however it is usually a desirable process in getting ready for a special occasion.
2. Again check for color distortion before apply polish to the entire surface of your item.
3. Be careful when choosing a polish and keep in mind some colored agents can rub off and smudge onto other surfaces they come in contact with.
4. Also be mindful that waxes and polishes can clog the pores of the leather and promote it to dry out, and dry leather will lead to cracked leather.
1. Most commercial leather protectors are some sort of moisture barrier. Even though there are many leather items you want to have waterproof, such as hiking boots and winter boots, most fashion items would be better suited not to have commercial leather protectors applied to them.
2. Heavy protectors can clog the natural pores of the leather which can promote the drying out of the leather. Also, built up layers of leather protectants can make properly cleaning and conditioning the leather extremely difficult.
3. Be careful choosing a leather protectant, there are good products available, just remember to avoid waxes and silicones.
The most important aspect of caring for your leather apparel is proper storage. If you are storing your leather garment for long periods of time, it is essential to store the items properly.
1. Thoroughly clean and condition your leather item.
2. Never store leather inside a plastic bag. This promotes stagnation, moisture build-up, bacteria and mildew growth.
3. Store in a cool dry area and use an appropriate breathable garment bag.
4. Keep your stored leather items out of the direct sunlight and away from any strong heat sources.
5. Use a durable padded hanger if needed, using a wooden hanger is preferred.
6. Stuff any large areas of the garment like legs and sleeves with acid free paper to retain shape during storage.
As with any product you buy that you have an expectation of some type of longevity, routine care and maintenance will not only help with the longevity of the item it will extend it. Armed with the knowledge and proper techniques to care for your leather apparel, you should not only enjoy your leather, but enjoy it into the foreseeable future. Waxed canvas bags