You are the rocker chic who has more than one leather jacket and leather pants and matching boots to boot and don’t mind being seen in all of them at once or you have that sole leather shoes or wallet and cherish it with your life or you have a favourite dress with leather trimmings which you do not know how to care of – Whatever is your scenario, you are seriously in need of some lessons on leather love which is why you are here. Let us read about how you can take care of your leather items at home.
First thing I have to say is – Do not wait for your leather item to fall into a puddle before you think about taking care of your leather product. Leather is not difficult to manage . It does not damage easily, especially good quality leather. But once you have a stain or a tear you have cause for concern. Everyone starts to think about leather care then.
With leather care you need the leather to look brand new and at the same time not do anything that will cut short it’s life.
FAQ 1 What is the number one tip on maintaining leather?
Buying quality leather – This is the first step in maintaining your leather .
If you’ve got it wrong in the first instance ( when you buy it) you are going to have trouble throughout the lifespan of your leather product.
The leather which has a protective layer on top like the pigmented leather is not difficult to maintain. Semi-Aniline, Pigmented Bi-cast & Rub Off leathers are easier to maintain because of the top coat they have. The polished surface does not damage easily. The additional protective layer of the leather help protect against spillage and make the leather easier to clean in future.
If you have suede or nubuck leather product be careful with water spillage or any kind of stain. Rub-off leather may lose some of its colour with heavy usage.
The top quality aniline leather is super soft and super comfy but you had better be prepared to maintain it well. The highest quality leather do not have much coatings which protect it from damage so you will have to be extra careful with it.They take stains easily. So for everyday use, better to buy one with protection.
Checkout the different types of leather in this article.
Check the product to see if there are any visible flaws. Sometimes different parts of the same product may have different kinds of leather. This might not be apparent at a glance.
A very light coloured leather with a heavy grain will give you some headache if it needs a clean. The dirt will get trapped in the grain and will need professional cleaning
Some leather will have a high absorbancy of water. You can do a water test on it by dropping one single drop of water if possible.
Then you can touch and see the softness and the protective coating on the leather.
A cheap quality leather which is poorly made will harden and disintegrate within no time. Some will have flaws which will be hidden. However you maintain it, it will look bad whereas a top grade leather will look better with age with right maintenance
FAQ 2 How to know that your leather needs care ?
For one it will start to look dirty. Then there will be a dirty shine to it – not the healthy shine of leather but a dirty cloudy shine. These stains may accumulate over a period of time with exposure to your makeup, hairspray, hair gel etc . You maynot even be noticing them at once. But then one day your favourite leather good will look real dirty and you will know.
Then there are the stains (ink mainly), rips, tears, scuff marks, scratch marks, colour changes, visible cracks -all damages to leather which needs attention
Some problems like lifting, bubbling or separation on coated canvas are not possible to be corrected.
FAQ 3 How to store leather ?
Two main setbacks in leather care are mildew and sun damage – both caused by improper storage
Leather can develop mildew on in its surface especially if you have stored it inside a wardrobe or worse a plastic bag. Never closet leather inside plastic containers or in places with humidity. A cool, ventilated area is the preferred storage place for leather.
The most ardent leather lovers have special bags made in muslin / thin cotton to keep their leather items moisture free. You can atleast use cotton fabric pieces to wrap and store leather
I always keep the silica packets that come with all electronic goods and keep it in my wardrobe as we have high humidity here – good for wool and leather.
Do not overexpose leather to sunlight . Fading due to sunlight can look very unattractive and it is damaging as well. it is impossible to reverse sun damage. You may have dye that whole product , and even then not get back the even colour. When storing Keep away from sunlight – period
Never store sweaty leather jackets / shoes inside wardrobe. Let it airdry before storing.
FAQ 4 What to do if you notice Tears on your leather ?
A tear in leather is truly heartbreaking. But the good news is an expert can repair it so finely that it will look as if there has been no such tear there.
There are repair kits available in the market with diy instructions which you can follow to the ‘T’ – you may get satisfactory results depending on the skill you have at such works – no guarantee. The repair process involves making a clean cut of the hole and then attaching a patch from behind and then glueing it . I would leave it to the professional if it was mine.
FAQ 5 How to deal with stains on leather ?
Do store stain sources like pens , lipsticks inside a pouch ; not in the pockets of your leather jacket or bag.
Also Make sure that you are not wearing a new clothing which may bleed next to a light coloured leather item. Prevention is better than cure in leather care.
Pen ink stains – don’t even think of removing it yourself. Give it to professionals.; even for ink pen stain, not only permanent ink stains. DIY solutions will further damage leather surface
If you get any oily stain on the leather, wipe the oil ( like butter, oil grease etc) immediately with a dry towel or tissue to wipe the grease off. After some time the excess oil will be absorbed by the leather. No use trying to wash off the oil.
One main tip is – Do not wait for any stain to settle for long on leather. Deal with fresh stains immediately.
Do not use petroleum based cleaners at home
Do use a microfiber cloth for cleaning spills and Do not use paper towels for this. They will get soggy and cause more problems
Don’t pour or spray cleaning solution on to leather surface directly
The wet stains can be cleaned if treated immediately. Dilute a baby soap in some water. dip sponge in this solution . Lather it into a foam. Now move in small strokes along the grain of the leather. I have cleaned food spills like this from leather.
Do not use a strong alkaline soap on leather . The white caustic nature of the suds from this soap will harden your leather
There are many home DIY leather repair kits available but There is no guarantee that home treatments on leather will remove engraved stains completely. Sometimes it may even destroy the leather. So any DIY on stains should be done very very cautiously.Grease, ink, cosmetics, permanent markers – these are potential professional cleaning candidates
Some stubborn stains like a spot where something bled into your leather or a pen mark or bleach spot may be impossible to remove even for the professionals. You may have to re-dye the whole product.
FAQ 6 How to remove dirt and water spills on leather ?
A regular wiping will remove dirt before it becomes a major problem. Use distilled water instead of tap water for this wiping.
Use a very mild cleaner especially if the leather you have is aniline leather with no protective layer on top. Use a special leather cleaner or mild baby bath liquid soap or gentle body wash. Pour it on to a sponge and lather. Apply this foam on to the leather ; use circular motion to clean . Wipe off with a clean towel. Air dry.
Never ever use the hair dryer on leather – though it is tempting to.
Any cleaner you use I would suggest that you test it on an inconspicuous place before ruining , I mean cleaning, the whole thing.
And water spills ?
If you have a spill, blot it immediately with a clean cloth or sponge.(no paper towels) Dry immediately with a dry cloth . Air dry. Religiously do this every time your leather product get wet. Water damage is real.
FAQ 7 How to avoid the horrible smell on leather ?
Do not wear leather clothes when you expect to perspire a lot. Perspiration can make the leather smell bad.
So does mildew.Do not let moisture remain in leather . Air dry after getting wet and then store
Once leather develops the odour you can try any of the odour absorbing powders (usually used inside shoes) or as a DIY solution use our panacea for all ailments and problems – the baking soda powder. It has the capacity to absorb dirt and smell.
FAQ 8 What to do if your leather has become hard
Leather becomes hard after some time with misuse or sometimes naturally due to the poor quality of the leather. This is especially true for belts and at times shoes.You may have to soften it somehow. Also a regular moisturizing is important to prevent the hardening and cracking.
You can apply a commercial softener/conditioner on leather periodically . Some posts I have read suggests to apply coconut oil – but I tried it and my belt turned a shade darker. Coconut oil also smells. I have read about applying vaseline / petroleum jelly too but have not had the courage to try it on leather.But it must work as leather is skin too
Whatever you apply, do it on clean leather.Clean with a leather cleaner before trying any softener.
Read the manufacturer’s applying instruction carefully. The usual way is to apply it and keep it on for a short period before wiping off gently with a microfiber polishing cloth. This conditioning is recommended every 6 months
Be very careful with leather conditioners as some may change the colour of the leather. So if you use the conditioner on a piece with a scuffed area that area may have a different colour from the rest of the leather after the work. So be prepared.
FAQ 9 how to take care of small scratches scuff marks on leather ?
Rubbing on other things like your clothes it’s trims, your jewellery and the resulting friction can cause scuff marks on leather. The leather can sometimes break apart and lose dye from just friction and rubbing in normal wear. The cleaning process may accentuate the condition.
For small scuffes , scratches, you can apply a similar coloured shoe polish. If you have a bag that are brown or black you are in luck, this idea will work. A small application and buffing with clean towel maybe all you need. Do not apply too much or you risk hardening the leather
FAQ 10 How to remove waterspots on leather ?
You can try using baby wipes on this kind of spots. Baby wipes have a small amount of oil which will remove the spots. Do not try this without testing on an inconspicuous area of course.
Leather is easy to maintain. Then there are those times when you find you cannot deal with it alone- which is when you should approach the professionals – leather care professionals who have the full-on setup ( the right material and equipment) for properly taking care of your beloved leather item.
( Ofcourse I wash my hands off any no liability in connection with any of the washing procedures recommended here. Not that they do not work – but you can never say with leather.)