by Willow Enright
You’ve finally acquired that dream leather item you fawned over for what seems like an eternity. You want to love those boots and bags for years to come. Now the question is, “How do I take care of it?” If you take good care of your leather, it will take good care of you! Keep it dry, clean, conditioned and stored appropriately and you’ll find that your leather might just out live you.
“What do I do when the leather gets wet?”
Everyone agrees that you want to keep your leather dry. If it gets damp take a dry cloth to it and then leave it to dry at room temperature. If it gets water logged stuff it with newspaper. Keep in mind that wet leather can stretch, so don’t hang your leather jacket over the kitchen chair because it will reshape the shoulders to fit the chair and not you. Make sure to keep the leather in its natural shape as it dries. Don’t expose the leather to the sun or to direct heat in order to dry it out faster, the leather is likely to crack. Drying naturally at room temperature is best.
“How can I prevent stains and scratches?”
There’s really no good way to prevent stains or scratches on your leather, that’s simply part of life and the natural aging process known as Patina. You can condition, buff and waterproof to help reduce the effects of wear and tear, plus it adds longevity to your leather, but scratches and stains will happen.
“What’s the best way to clean my leather?”
The best way to clean your leather is with a dry clean cloth or damp cloth if your item is extremely dirty. Wipe off the dirt gently, don’t scrub or you might rub the particles into the leather instead. There are also leather cleaners you can use but I find simply wiping with a cloth works the best. If your leather has hardware (buckles, D-rings, etc) take care to clean that regularly as well.
“How often should I condition the leather?”
Think of conditioning your leather like a moisturizer for your skin. If you don’t moisturize you will dry out over time, your leather items are the same. Prevent flaking, peeling, cracking, and wrinkling by conditioning regularly. Try Aussies Leather Conditioner, which supplements the natural oils of leather. Dab a small bit of conditioner on a soft cloth and rub gently all over. Leave overnight, and then wipe off the excess with a dry clean cloth. You should condition every 6 months or so to keep your leather looking shiny. If you use your leather items more often, then condition them every month or even more often if necessary.
“Where do I properly store my leather?”
Keep your leather in a dry room temperature area. Never store your leather in plastic, cardboard, or in direct sunlight. Confining the leather without air to let it breathe can cause mold or mildew to develop. Leaving leather in the sun can cause bleaching or warping. If you have leather shoes or boots you can use cedar tree shoes which help to absorb moisture and scents and help to retain the shape.
In summary you want to keep your leather dry, and if it gets wet let it dry naturally. To prevent wear and tear be sure to clean, condition, buff, and waterproof to prolong the life of the leather. Condition every six months or so depending on use. And when storing your leather, keep it out of the sun, at room temperature, and in an area where it can breathe. Now that you know how to make that leather last, you’ll want to update your last will and testament so the kids stop fighting over your favorite leather satchel.
I started crafting out of leather in 2011, and now I am making it my life's work. I am writing this blog to help myself remember some of the small steps in past projects, sharing my triumphs and failures, as well as my love of leather.