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  • Writer's picturePeter Smith

Caring for your Leather

Updated: Jul 7


Caring for your leather
Caring for your leather

Prevention is better than cure... With proper care, leather can last many decades. And like a fine whiskey, it will only become more valuable and unique the longer you have it.


Caring for your leather​

So, let's look at some of the best ways Caring for your leather articles.


Top grain vegetable tanned leather

Unlike chrome tanned leather, most top grain, veg tanned leather does not come pre-treated with oils and waxes. The fibers will react to water which, will stiffen and shrink the leather. Veg tanned leather is sensitive to high heat and can crack if heated to high temperatures.

  • Keep veg tanned leather away from water - unless it is really well treated.

  • Do not use a blow dryer or heat gun on leather and do not store the leather in an excessively hot area as this will shrink and harden the leather.

  • Use a good quality leather balm to keep your leather in good health. Source any leather care product that does not contain any oils. Saddlery companies usually have very good products along this line.

Suede and Split leather

  • Blot off any wet stains as soon as possible. Place a paper towel on the stain, then add a weight on top to press the stain into the absorbent towel.

  • Small, dry stains may be able to be erased with a clean pencil eraser.

  • Rub stains that are set with white vinegar and a damp towel.

  • Do not use chemical stain removers on suede.

  • Use a fingernail file to gently rasp away any scuff marks or lumps that you cannot get off.

  • Use a suede brush or a clean bath towel to rub the suede gently to bring back the normal texture of the suede.

  • Make sure that you keep your suede away from direct sunlight for extended periods of time.

Beyond this simple at-home stain removal, you must be careful when cleaning suede. Damage from cleaners and even simple soap is irreversible. It’s always best to take the suede to a professional dry cleaner. Suede is also susceptible to damage when being stored or transported. The soft leather is easily scratched. When storing or transporting your suede garments, place them in a pillowcase before storing them. Store in a dark place where it will not fade, and make sure it is completely dry before storing it if you have tried to clean it.

Aniline and Bonded leather

Prevention is better than cure with aniline leather. Waterproof protection is the best option if you want to avoid stains. The protectant comes with a mist spray applicator allowing you to gently spray a layer onto the leather without it soaking in. This will then provide a barrier giving you time to wipe any spillages off before they soak in. If you do get a stain or spillage, aniline cleaner will break down dirt and help dilute spillages, this allows you to draw out the stain, but care must be taken, scrubbing the leather is only advised if absolutely necessary.

Most of the products I make will be well finished to resist spillages and water. To keep your leather product "alive", soft, supple and to help it last a lifetime, the best product to use is a product free from oils and man-made synthetic chemicals.


I prefer a normal boot/shoe polish, brushed on, allowed to dry and then buffed with a soft, lint-free cloth.

Summary

  • Leather needs to be fed, protected and cared for. I recommend using a high quality, leather balm applied liberally and brushed into the leather on a regular basis. Buff with a soft, lint-free cloth.

  • Heavy rain will creep in between the stitching/lacing in the case of outdoor products. Thumbing natural bees wax into the stitching will help waterproof the product.

  • Leather marks, cuts, scratches, and scrapes easily. Keep keys and other hard/sharp objects away from the product.

  • If used on motorcycle saddles and because leather is pliable, it will shape to your body over time as you use the bike. There is no way of preventing this.

  • Do not use soaps or any cleaning agents, including "leather cleaning" products found on popular on-line outlets. Using a damp cloth will suffice, especially if you are polishing regularly.

Contact me if you are in doubt and need some help.

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