People love leather, they love owning it and wearing it, but do you know how to care for your leather goods properly? Proper conditioning of your leather goods can prolong their life and maintain their quality if done correctly and at the proper intervals.
The first step in caring for your fine leather is leather conditioning. Many assume cleaning the leather is key, but retaining moisture and buffing the leather will preserve and protect the piece for years to come.
Want to make your leather looks its best? Keep reading to find out how to recondition your leather!
How do you clean leather?
Before you clean leather, it makes sense to test first in an inconspicuous spot. This can help demonstrate how the leather will hold up to the process and if it is too far gone to save and restore.
Clean by wiping with a damp, soft cloth. Next, condition with oil-based products, like mink oil, intended for use on leather surfaces. This will provide moisture to the leather. Apply with a soft cloth or buffing pad and rub until fully absorbed.
Let the leather sit and absorb the conditioner overnight.
How to condition leather
What does conditioning leather do?
Conditioning leather moisturizes the material and keeps it soft, supple, and prevents cracking and other damage to the material.
What do I use to condition leather?
There are a variety of balms, oils, and waxes that can be used to condition leather, including:
- Leather Creams – these provide moisture with the least amount of chance of a change in color
- Leather Oils – natural oils such as lanolin fall in this category and help soften the leather
- Leather waxes – these are not wonderful for moisturizing but are very effective for waterproofing if that is the goal
- Mink Oil
- Essential Lemon Oil
- Leather Honey Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Virgin Olive Oil
- There are also a wide variety of specifically made leather conditioning products that you can find in online and brick and mortar stores, such as leather goods stores, furniture dealers, leather repair shops, and many other places.
How to properly condition leather goods?
- Spot or deep clean the leather – before you can condition the leather, you have to make sure it is clean and prepped
- Make sure any removable parts, buckles, straps, etc., that are in the way are removed
- Using water and a soft-bristled brush (such as a toothbrush), clean any spots that are dirty or gritty on the leather
- After cleaning, use a soft, dry cloth to wipe away and dry the area you cleaned
- If the leather is very dirty, you might need a leather cleaner or a leather soap to get the piece clean
- Test a small area that you are going to condition
- If this is the first time conditioning a piece of leather, or using a specific type of leather conditioner, test a small, inconspicuous area (for example, the bottom of a sofa cushion) to ensure no discoloration occurs.
- To test, rub a small amount of the conditioner into the leather with a clean cloth, let the spot sit and dry for 24 hours to ensure that there is no discoloration or damage before continuing to condition the rest of the item
- Condition the leather
- Using a clean cloth, rub a small amount of conditioner onto your leather goods until the entire item is conditioned, just as you did in the test spot
- Allow the leather to dry overnight and then wipe away any residual cleaning/conditioning material with a clean, dry cloth
- Detailed instructions are often found on the conditioning product you are using for your leather if you need further instruction
Leather might not necessarily become shiny from conditioning, but the material will absorb the conditioner and become healthier. The frequency with which you condition your leather goods is really up to you. This can be once it starts to look dull or dry or at predetermined intervals. Some leather experts recommend conditioning your leather as frequently as monthly, but many others agree that every six to twelve months is an appropriate time frame.
How long should leather dry?
After cleaning, conditioning, or getting the leather wet, make sure to dry it out slowly. Do not hurry the process by putting it in the sun or near heat, as this can cause brittleness and inevitable cracking. If your leather feels dry, condition again with a leather-safe oil or wax moisturizer.
What is the best way to store and protect leather?
So, what do you do with leather when it is not being used to protect and preserve it? There are some specific guidelines that you should use to ensure you are storing leather properly, including these:
- Be wary of mildew. Never store leather in a hot or humid environment, as this can foster the growth of mold and mildew. Also, never keep your leather items in a damp basement or attic.
- Plastic is not ideal for storing leather as it removes air circulation and doesn’t allow the leather to breathe. It will deteriorate the leather over time.
- Be careful not to stretch leather, such as hanging leather apparel on clothes hangers for prolonged periods. The more stretched it is, the less luster the leather has.
- Do not store your leather in direct sunlight, as this can cause the leather to dry out. When the leather becomes dry, it turns brittle and may crack.
Remember that once abrasions have damaged leather, they cannot be repaired or reversed. Be wary of storing near materials that could nick, cut, or scuff your leather.
Want to restore and rejuvenate your leather? Talk to the professionals at Leather Medic to learn more about professional leather care and conditioning. For over 21 years, Leather Medic® has demonstrated the expertise to repair and refinish all kinds of leather, specializing in automotive leather and vinyl repair, leather furniture repair and refinishing, marine craft leather and vinyl repair, as well as commercial leather and vinyl repair.
With over 22 independent franchises across the United States, a trained technician is waiting to serve you. Call or visit today.