Leather is a great wardrobe staple, but a lot of people are hesitant to buy leather goods because they don’t know how to care for them. Well, it’s time to make that anxiety a thing of the past. Stop buying cheap knock-offs that will peel and break and invest in beautiful, well-crafted products. The good news is, caring for leather is not nearly as hard as you might think.
Before you try to tackle a leather care project, you’ll want to make sure that your leather is actually worth caring for, and that means evaluating where you purchased it and the overall characteristics of the material. Focus your attention on American-made leather goods, specifically tanned, full-grain leather. Don’t be fooled by products labeled “top grain” – it’s actually made of a cheaper, lower part of the hide and isn’t of great quality. Even lower quality products include anything marked corrected grain or genuine leather; these are some of the cheapest products that can still be called leather according to market regulations.
In addition to the quality of the product, buying leather from a reputable dealer often comes with guidance. These companies are more likely to have standard directions for caring for their leather products. Some may even sell their own products or have a list of recommended ones that they know work well.
Beware Water Damage
Considering the popularity of leather coats, it may seem odd that leather would be so vulnerable to water, and yet water can do a lot of damage to your leather goods. That’s why the first step to caring for your leather goods, whether you have a jacket, boots, or a bag, is to apply a waterproofing treatment. The best treatments are also pH balancing and prevent staining and premature aging of your leather. Make sure to select a product that won’t discolor the leather, as some cheap products may do this.
Keep It Conditioned
However you may prefer to think about it, leather – especially quality leather – is another animal’s skin, and just as you moisturize your skin, you need to moisturize your leather. Buy a leather conditioner and use it to treat your leather, keeping it soft and clean. Depending on how hard you are on your leather goods, you may also need to use saddle soap to remove dirt, grease, and other grime from the surface.
Store It Smarter
Leather, like other delicate materials, needs to be stored properly to retain its integrity, so don’t just stuff your leather goods in the closet during the off-season. At the most basic level, you want to store leather goods in a dry space – humidity can cause leather to rot, but ideally you should wrap leather in acid-free paper and store it separately in a ventilated container.
It doesn’t matter if you have a pair of boots, a briefcase, or a jacket, the same basic rules apply. And if you don’t think you have a space in your home that fits the bill, which may be the case if you live in a particularly humid region, you may want to contact your local furrier or other specialty garment service to see if they can help.
A few simple steps – that’s all it takes to keep your leather clothing and accessories looking their best for years to come. With regular treatment and a lot of love, you’ll be handing down your favorite pieces to the next generation.