5 Tips for Leather Care

Water stain on leather surface

There seem to be two camps of leather owners. Some like their leather preserved and looking brand new, even years down the line. Smooth leathers like patent or other heavily finished leathers are especially appealing.

The second camp prefers their leather to have a more lived in look, with natural creases and a rich patina. The leather should have character, and its natural wear tells a story.

Each look requires that you take some time out for your leather. Regardless of which camp you fall into, here are a few tips:

1. Air Dry not Blow Dry

If your leather gets wet, do not reach for the hair dryer or put it near the heater. Just take a deep breath and let it air dry. Too much heat can change the chemical structure of the leather surface and you will end up with a stiff dry surface or change shape. So letting it slowly dry at room temperature and the leather will look untouched. If you're in a hurry and need to speed up the drying process, try using a fan.

Remember to also let the leather breathe. If you get caught in the rain or fall into the ocean, do not put the leather in a plastic bag. Hang it inside out or upside down and let it air dry. And try not to fall into any more oceans.

2. Condition your leather

Try to clean and condition your leather at least once a year. Saddle soap cleans and conditions. It also helps soften and preserve the leather. Want natural creases instead of cracks in your natural? Cracks are a symptom of dry leather (and laziness). Saddle soap will help make the leather smoother and more malleable. Don't be lazy.

If you have a lot of dirt or grime on the leather, use diluted soapy water and a soft brush to clean the surface of the leather. Then apply saddle soap with a damp cloth and rub into the surface to create a lather. Finally, wipe the surface. You can also buff the surface with a soft cloth for shine."

3. Ink Stains

Oooh this is one is difficult. Ink is very permanent and absorbent on leather, and difficult to remove. We have not found anything that completely removes the ink stain without also taking part of the leather with it. So our advice if you have an ink stain? Leave it be. If you have a large spot and it does not contrast too much with the color of the leather, think of it as "burnished" leather. If it is a smaller spot, draw a picture incorporating the ink blot and now you've got a tattoo.

4. Scratches on leather

Scratches can add to the personality of the leather. They can tell a story or serve as an adventurous memory. But sometimes, your cat scratches the leather because it was a Wednesday and it felt like it. And now you have an unsightly line running down the center of an otherwise pristine surface. So you need more practical solutions and less encouragement.

Common ways hide scratches are to color them over with shoe polish, or for the brave folk, a felt marker. But many times, your leather may have a specific color that does not have an exact match in polish or marker. You may be better off just conditioning the scratch in the leather with some mineral or linseed oil. Oil can be used to darker a new piece of leather and give it a worn in look. Since scratches reveal the unstained lighter shade of leather beneath, the oil will also darken a small scratch.

For lighter scuffs, try elbow grease. Dab a bit of the grease and massage along the scuff. After a few minutes, you will notice that the scuffs have been buffed out.

5. Mildew

With raw or thick leathers, sometimes you will notice a white powder collecting at the surface. It looks threatening, but it is not.

The white residue is something called leather bloom, and found on especially fatty leathers. Leathers that are high in fat and wax are also more in demand as they last longer and look more beautiful. During the tanning process, these leathers also require more oil and wax. Sometimes, the oil and wax migrates to the surface of the leather and oxidizes, causing the white stuff.

It is not harmful, and can be cleaned off very easily. Just use a damp cloth and wipe the white powder off of the leather surface. It can also add character to the leather depending on the stain, so you can also just ignore it altogether.

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