Care and Upkeep for Leather Items

by Ryan Popoff October 04, 2017

Care and Upkeep for Leather Items

Buy-it-for-life items are quality goods meant to last the longest possible lifetime. Leather is generally considered a buy-it-for-life quality material, but like most quality items, it needs to be treated with respect to stand the test of time. Just as a straight razor would need to be sharpened to continue cutting close to the skin, leather goods need to be cared for to ensure their maximum lifespan. This guide details ways to care for your quality leather goods to ensure maximum usage.

1.) Keep Leather Out of the Sun

I'm not saying you can't wear your leather jacket out and about or carry your leather bag with you throughout the day. When you're done with your leather item for the day, however, make sure to store it somewhere dark. Leather is made from animal skin, and if left in the sun it can dry out or even crack.

Keep in mind when you're choosing a place to store it that you also want it someplace dry. The last thing you want is for mold to start growing on it. On that same token, don't store your leather in plastic. Plastic holds in moisture and can also lead to mold growth.

2.) Avoid Stretching Leather

This can especially be a problem with wallets or bags. Leather isn't like a rubber band: You can't expect it to snap back into place after you've stretched it. If you overstuff your wallet or bag you will stretch the leather out, and there's no coming back from that. Keep that in mind when you're deciding which cards to take with you and which to leave behind.

3.) Keep Leather Away from Abrasive Materials

Some of this has to do with your lifestyle and the look you want your leather to have. If you're a biker and like a more weather-worn look, you might not mind gravel flicking up and wearing at your jacket or chaps.

I like my leather looking sleek and professional, so I take care with my leather bags and don't set them down on gravel driveways.

Regardless of the look you want your leather to have, keeping it away from abrasive cleaning materials is a must.

4.) Take Care When Cleaning Your Leather

Just because you don't want to use harsh chemicals on your leather doesn't mean you shouldn't clean it. The key is to be intentional with how you clean it. You don't want to use soap or other cleaning aids which can strip the natural oils from your leather. Instead, wet a cloth and gently rub that across the surface, being careful not to scrub too hard so that you don't scrape any dirt on the leather.

Afterwards be sure to let the material air dry. You never want to dry your leather using heat as that can cause it to crack. It's always best to let leather air dry, even if that means that it's damp for a couple of days.

5.) Treat Your Leather

Certain products have been invented to treat your leather and expand its lifespan, and I recommend investing in some of those products. Although it involves a little bit of money, it's worth it if it means your leather goods will live their fullest life.

One key point to keep in mind is that most products will alter the color of your leather. When trying a product for the first time, test it on a small patch of the product--either on the inside or underside where it won't often be seen--to ensure that you're okay with what it does to the color of your product.

Applying a good moisture dressing to your items can help prevent drying and cracking and replenish your leather's natural oil. This does not need to be applied daily; once every 2-3 months is plenty, although feel free to use it any time your leather begins to look dry.

Waterproofing your leather can be done when you first purchase a new item. Not all leather items need waterproofing added to them. Your wallet, for example, is unlikely to be out in heavy rain. However if it's an item you anticipate using regularly, rain or shine, waterproofing is recommended.

We offer leather cleaner and saddle soap. Our leather cleaner is specially formulated to help keep the dirt and grime off your leather goods without damaging the leather, while the saddle soap, made from beeswax, conditions and waterproofs the leather. It also puts a good shine back into your leather.

If you're looking for an even brighter shine, polish is the answer. Polish is especially helpful with leather shoes, bags, or jackets. This is one area when matching the color of your product to the color of the polish is absolutely key. Also keep in mind that polish goes bad over time. You don't want to use old polish on your product.

6.) Rules for Suede

Keep in mind that caring for a suede product is different from caring for other leather. Unlike other leather, suede is made from the underside of animal skin. It's softer but less durable than other leather and requires special care. For example, using a damp cloth can be detrimental on suede. Small scuffs can often be erased from suede using a rubber eraser, while larger stains may need to be steam cleaned. When in doubt, take suede items to a cleaner for special care.

Suede is not a material you'll want to polish or use moisture cream on, though feel free to waterproof it. Just ensure that any materials you use specifically say they can be used on suede.

I spend a lot of time with leather for a reason. It's a material I feel good about using not just for the look but for the quality. To me, buy it for life items are an investment worth making, and leather can be a great buy it for life material. When you're keeping an item for a long time, however, you can't just throw it around the way you would an item you're only keeping for a year or two. It takes a little extra time and caution to keep leather items in their best possible condition over time, but in my opinion, it's worth the effort.

Ryan Popoff
Ryan Popoff


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