How do you clean your leather?
Like anything else you use on a daily basis, leather gets dirty! While most leather products are fairly resistant to dirt, dust, and grime, they still require cleaning from time to time.
- Mild Spots - are the most common, and, thankfully, the easiest to clean. For most dirt and dust on your leather, simply wipe down with mild soapy water, using gentle circular motions on the spot, rinse soap with a clean cloth. Take care not to soak the leather or leave a damp cloth on the piece for an extended period of time. Dry thoroughly.
- Tougher Spots - are inevitable—something will be spilled on your leather bag, or oils will get on your leather wallet. Don’t fret, leather is tough! There are a few steps that you’ll need to follow as soon as possible to have the best chance of removing spots from your leather. The longer the stain is allowed to set, the more likely the oils will seep deeper into the leather.
- Use a baby wipe to clean the spot. Avoid alcohols and solvents as these can discolor the leather.
- Holding your hand behind the leather, apply pressure to the stain and dab in a circular pattern on and around the stain. Don’t push too hard, doing so can discolor the leather.
- Allow the piece and surrounding area to dry completely before using or storing.
- Scratches - As leather ages, it is bound to gain a few scratches and dents. This is part of the character of leather. These blemishes show your leather’s journey. When you want to remove particular scratches, follow these steps to help work them out
- Locate the scratch or spot on the leather goods.
- Using the oils from your hands, bend and work the spot back and forth over the scratch and marks.
- Continue as needed, working the leather. The scratch will continue to disappear over time.
- Maintain as always.
How do you keep your leather hydrated and supple?
Once you’ve found a leather conditioner that you like that doesn’t mar your leather, you can condition your leather goods whenever you feel like the leather is getting dull or dry.
Some experts advocate conditioning every six to 12 months, but this is entirely dependent on the environment your leather is in, the amount of use it gets, and your own preferences.
Leather conditioner is a moisturizer, and, just like the skin on your body, leather will soak it up.
This means that you shouldn’t expect your leather to be shiny just because you’ve applied conditioner. Leather fibers, like skin, will drink in the conditioner, absorbing as much as it can. The excess can be wiped away with a soft cloth, leaving a smooth, supple surface.
There are several products you can use to condition all types of leather:
- Leather creams — provide moisture with the least change in color and are great for aniline leathers
- Leather oils — Natural oils like lanolin and neatsfoot can help soften leather
- Leather waxes — Waxes don’t moisturize as well, but they do provide more waterproofing
Common mistakes that can affect your leather.
- Keep your leather goods out of the sun. Hanging a leather bag on a coat rack in your foyer may be a good idea—but only if there isn’t a window through which direct sunlight can shine on it. While these items are meant to be out in the world, and the sun, adding five hours of sun exposure every day for years can shorten the lifespan of your leather.
- Keep your leather goods in a dry place. This includes avoiding short-term storage near humid areas, such as kitchens and laundry or bathrooms.
- Use a proper hanger. When left to hang, even the best leather can develop creases. For example, leather jackets should be kept on proper wood or padded hangers as opposed to thin wire hangers.