Leather Care – keep your leather happy!

We all have at least a little bit of leather in our lives.  Some of us have a lot.  If you have an automobile with leather interior, a leather handbag, leather jacket, leather furniture, etc, etc, the importance of proper leather care cannot be overstated.  Treated properly and well cared for, leather can last a lifetime and even be passed down through generations.  If it’s tough enough to hold cows together, then it’s tough enough to wrap your feet in.

Take a quick look at this picture:

brown leather handbag
Brown leather handbag

Full of character. The scratches and markings on the leather representing years of toting through crowded bus terminals, into and out of hundreds of taxis, shoved into countless car trunks, scraped up against perhaps thousands of walls in it’s lifetime and still, the venerable leather handbag looks great and does what it was made to do.  With just a little bit of maintenance over the years, this handbag has stood the test of time.

Does your leather sofa have soft, supple leather that is smooth to the touch?  Or does it perhaps show the life of the animal, all it’s scars on the hide visible?  To each their own and people will prefer one over the other.  The setting helps here as well – is it a formal sitting room or a central area where the dogs and kids play?

Do you have leather accent chairs or perhaps leather chairs and dining room table?  These, again, are items that are unique to the person and the setting and will require different types of leather and, therefore, different types of leather care.

Leather Care can be easily done in your spare time

Taking care of your leather goods doesn’t require you to carve out time from your busy schedule to spend hours scrubbing your favorite leather accessories.  No, ideally this can be done while you’re sitting watching TV, or perhaps while watching the dogs run around in your back yard.  Ultimately, it’s up to you of course, but five minutes here, five minutes there and before you know it, you end up with well maintained leather.  You’ll want to find leather cleaners and conditioners you are comfortable with, as well as leather brushes for the particular type of leather you are working on.

Leather Care doesn’t have to break the bank

Leather cleaners and conditioners can be expensive but when compared to the cost of replacing your favorite leather, it’s quite inexpensive.

Leather Care does not have to be messy

It can be, of course, but it doesn’t have to be.  Cleaning leather is one thing, conditioning it is another. When cleaning leather, you can end up with some very dirty rags.  I tend to do this on newspapers spread across the floor and the newspapers will get rather dirty.  The better job you do here, at cleaning the leather, the easier and cleaner the conditioning will be.

With those three things out of the way, we should also give consideration to a few other topics.

Not all leather is created the same (or meant to look the same)

Again, if you look at the picture of the handbag above, it’s meant to show a few scars and marks.  It’s surface is not a flawless one and that’s mostly likely intentional.  Many people like the rough edges and leather is well suited to that.  Then again, some folks would prefer the flawless look.  Think of a nice pair of dress shoes:

brown leather shoes


Would these shoes look good with scuffs and marks all over them, like the handbag?  Probably not.  And once again, that’s the beauty of leather.  You can let it age in a way that best suits you.  One person likes the scuffed look, another does not.  The flawless look goes well with your suit but would look wrong with your ragged jeans.  These leather shoes would probably go better with those jeans:

old leather boots

Pretty grungy pair of leather boots – these are probably work boots.  But, look past the dirt and scars and, like the handbag, you’ll find well worn and time tested leather friends. The owner can count on these boots to carry them through the day, regardless of if that day is spent in the fields or in the corporate office.

Important points to remember about Leather:

  • Keep leather out of sunlight when not used as much as possible.  Of course, you can’t do this all of the time but don’t expose leather to direct sunlight unnecessarily.  Don’t leave your boots out in the yard, don’t leave your saddle draped over the fence and don’t leave your jacket slung over the back of the patio chair.  This article discusses a bit more about the dangers of leaving your leather exposed to the sunlight.
  • Let leather breathe.  Shoes are a good example here.  Rather than wear one pair every single day, it’s far better to switch up and wear on pair one day and another the next.  Your shoes will thank you for the extra day of “breathing time” by enjoying a much longer life.
  • Don’t let dirt linger on your leather. It’ll get dirty, of course, but a quick wipe down with a damp cloth at the end of the day will mean worlds to your favorite leather. Our friends at Forbes have given us a very good article on cleaning your leather.
  • Store your leather when you aren’t using it.  Shoes, boots, jackets, saddles, etc, etc.  If you aren’t actively using them, store them somewhere in a cool dry place. A closet (more for your shoes than your saddle) or anywhere else where it won’t get overheated or dried out. Leather bound books are a special case and should be handled a bit differently.
  • Don’t let leather get dried out.  You’ll see a lot of leather conditioners that make the promise of extending the life of your leather.  It’s true – you can trust that.  I’d stick with the name brands – the popular brands – but you cannot go wrong by conditioning your leather.  We have run some tests here as well and will share what we found shortly.
  • Clean your leather.  You’ll know when it needs to be cleaned. When obviously dirty, it’s obviously time to clean.  But sometimes it might not be so obvious.  So when you put those boots in the closet and deep inside, you know they need to be cleaned but you decide not to, and then you have horrible dreams about needlessly dirty leather boots taking over the world and you wake in a cold sweat, well, that’s your conscience letting you know you should have cleaned those boots.  So clean the leather.  Here’s an excellent article that discusses how best to clean leather.

The Ultimate Guide to Leather

Lastly, I always want to leave you with something amazing, so here’s an amazing infographic by our friends at virtualistan:

Ultimate Guide to Leather #infographic

I hope you enjoyed this – feel free to take a look around and, as always, we are would love to hear your thoughts.