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Caring for Your Leather

Posted by Brit Ellerman on

Leather is unique in that it is one of few materials that can show its life story. And its life can be very long if it's treated with care. There are a variety of ways to care for and treat your beloved leather items. It mostly depends on how you want it to look and its purpose. If taken care of properly, your leather can last a long time. Even 5,500 years

Leather Treatments

It may seem that all the polishes, creams, oils and waxes do the same job. However, certain treatments are better for specific purposes and care routines. 

In general, using a damp cloth to clean any leather product is best. When your shoes get some dirt or grime on them, just use a damp cloth to gently clean it off. This method is best to keep the item clean overall and should be done whenever it gets dirty.

Polish is mostly used to keep your items shiny rather than for protection. Use to keep your fancy briefcase or dress shoes shining under those fluorescent office lights. You can decide on how often you want to polish, but be sure to include it in any cleaning routine.

Creams and oils are what really moisturize the leather. They keep the leather protected and prevent it from drying out. They should be rubbed in much like a lotion. And again, it’s up to you on how often you use them. Typically, they are used more often if you want the leather to have a new and clean look. Whereas, using conditioners or creams every 6 or even 12 months, can allow the leather to show its blemishes, scratches and wear and tear.

And finally, wax can waterproof your leather, protecting it even further. Wax provides a coating to protect your leather from snow, rain, etc. Depending on how much the item is used and exposed to weather elements, will decide on how often to wax it. For example, if you live in an area with a lot of snow and have a bit of a walk to work, it’s best to wax more often. Otherwise, it’s advised to apply wax to the leather once a year.

Suede, a unique leather, should be cared for differently. Polishes, oils and waxes shouldn’t be used on suede. Instead use a suede wire brush to keep the leather clean and fresh looking. Similar to suede, we don’t recommend using any cream or conditioners on any Texas Saddlery rough out belts.

“Long hair minimizes the need for barbers; socks can be done without; one leather jacket solves the coat problem for many years. . .” - Albert Einstein

If properly taken care of, your leather items can last a long time. They can show its life story and even yours and the adventures taken together. When deciding on a proper treatment routine, research what products are best for the type of leather and read the ingredients. Then do some testing to find the right fit for you and for how you want it to look. Many of the treatment products will provide you with a how-to cleaning guide so you can care for your beloved leather items properly.

Worn or brand new?

To use the proper treatment for your leather items, you should decide how you want it to look. Some people prefer to allow their leather to show its blemishes, scratches, and wear and tear. Some prefer to keep it looking brand new and polished. Choosing a look will help you choose and create a proper care treatment and routine utilizing the methods mentioned previously.

The use of the leather product can also depict how to care for it. Rugged leather work boots don’t need as much care as polished dress shoes. Leather that is exposed to outside elements like the sun might need a different care routine than those that aren’t. This can include clothing items like jackets, shoes or belts. For instance, your clothing will more than likely need a routine that includes waterproofing, polishing and maybe waxing. All of these treatments can protect them from elements like sun, water and dirt.Things like your leather couch won’t need as much care and treatment as those exposed to the weather. Don’t misunderstand that the couch won’t need care at all, it just shouldn’t need it as often because it's not exposed to weather elements.

Other Care Considerations

Sunlight and heat can seriously damage or wear out leather. Leather is like our skin and just with our skin, the sun can damage it. If it’s left in direct sunlight it will darken and possibly crack. However, it's recommended to let the leather soak up some sun before treating it with oil as the sun will open the pores in the leather. Thus, allowing the oil to soak in and moisturize. Here at Texas Saddlery, we use Pure Neatfoots Oil on our products to help protect them.

When leather becomes waterlogged or just wet in general, don’t rush to dry it with heat or sunlight. Rather let the leather dry naturally to avoid any cracks. Of course leather fades over time, but exposure to heat or sunlight can speed up that process.

Store your leather items in a cool place without direct exposure to heat or sunlight. Much like skin, leather needs room to breathe and to allow the moisture to evaporate. So store them in a breathable bag or area that allows ventilation to prevent mildew. 

In general, care for your leather items as you would your own skin. Moisturize it, clean it, keep it safe from the sun. After all, leather is cattle hide and should be treated with care.

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