The Ultimate Guide To Helping Your Leather Last a Lifetime
The benefits of quality leather can’t be overstated – it’s durable, environmentally friendly, and stands the test of time in terms of style and lifespan. And while purchasing that gorgeous leather handbag may make a dent in your bank account, this is one investment you can feel good about … if you know how to properly care for it. From purses and wallets to jackets and belts, your leather is in good hands with these no-fuss maintenance tips.
By Mary Beth Wallace
For leather seeing daily use, do a quick cleaning every evening to get rid of any dirt or debris. Wipe the surface down with a slightly damp cotton cloth and allow the leather to air dry. This simple yet effective routine is one of the best methods for preventing premature wear and tear.
A couple of times a year (or more often if you live in a humid climate), it’s a good idea to apply leather conditioner or cream to maintain the quality of your leather product. Conditioner moisturizes the leather, which prevents it from getting too dry and cracking. Before using a new conditioner, you’ll want to test it on a hidden spot ahead of time to see how your leather will react to the treatment; after 24 hours, you can treat the entire product by rubbing the conditioner in a circular motion, then wiping it off with a slightly damp cloth.
A few additional cleaning tips:
- Do not allow your leather to get wet – water and leather do not mix!
- Do not put leather products in the washing machine.
- Do not use bleach or ammonia-based products to clean your leather.
- For jackets and other clothing items, always read the manufacturer’s label for specific cleaning instructions.
One thing is for sure – if you notice a stain on your leather, treat it immediately. The treatment will range depending on the stain. For example, ink is best treated with rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball; gently rub the stain in a circular motion until you see the ink begin to disappear, and once the leather has dried, apply a small amount of leather conditioner to the affected area.
Oil and grease stains, on the other hand, should be treated with talcum powder or another absorbent powder. Start by removing as much of the oil as possible with a microfiber cloth, then apply the powder, which will soak up the oil overnight. The following morning when you brush off the powder, the stain should be gone.
When it comes to caring for leather, proper storage is a must to avoid issues like cracking and mildew. Store leather products away from direct sunlight or artificial sources of heat that can cause the material to dry out. Avoid hanging backpacks and purses over a doorknob or hook, as this can distort the leather – instead, place leather bags upright on a shelf.
If you’re storing leather goods for the season, skip the plastic bags and place your leather inside a dust bag, natural fabric pillowcase, or other breathable fabric. For handbags or purses, be sure to empty out all of the contents before storing. You’ll also need to stuff the bag to help it maintain its shape, either with bubble wrap or a few rolled-up sweaters. You may want to consider wrapping any hardware, including clasps, buckles, and chains, in tissue paper so that the metal does not press against the leather and leave a mark.
Showing your leather some love on a regular basis can ensure the long life of your favorite products. Happy cleaning!