You know how I’ve gone on and on about how leather is a durable, long-lasting investment that only improves with age? Well, that statement is only true if you know how to take proper care of your leather briefcase, duffel, or tote. Just like your own skin, leather will become dry when exposed to the elements and in general if it’s exposed to heat, moisture, dryness or harsh chemicals, it won’t retain its natural and soft, pliable feel. In order to keep your leather looking and feeling new as well as prolong the life of it, follow these basic tips:
First of all, you must try apply preventative measures to your leather to lessen any excess damage not caused by everyday usage. It’s important not to expose your leather product to excessive heat, dryness, or UV rays which will significantly dry it out. Unfortunately, this means that those living in a dry climate will have to treat their leather more often. The opposite situation, having excess moisture, is something to be avoided as well because this can cause the leather to change shape, stain, dry out, and/or mildew. When you’re not using your leather briefcase or bag, make sure to store it in a dark place. And of course, as much you might try to prevent it, accidents like coffee spills, pen marks and unexpected rain can happen, but the best way to treat any stain is to react to it as soon as possible. It may not be convenient at the time of a spill to clean it, but you should try to blot the stain with a dry clean cloth soon after to prevent the stain from setting in. For specific types of stains and damage look at our Leather Care Guide.
For most leathers, a basic cleaning routine starts with a clean white cloth which you will dampen with water and wring out so that the cloth is only slightly damp. You don’t want to soak the leather, just moisten it. I’ve heard you can use a solution of alcohol in water, or a gentle soap on your cloth, but I have also heard that you should only use saddle soap which is more PH balanced. Whatever you decide to choose, it’s important to do a spot check on a leather hangtag which is often included with your bag but if you don’t have one, do a small spot check on a discrete area of the bag such as under a flap.
After lightly wiping down your bag with a moist, slightly soapy cloth, use a clean moist cloth to wipe it and then a dry cloth to remove excess moisture.
If your bag is extra dusty, try using a vacuum hose or a soft natural bristle brush to remove extra dirt and dust before using a damp cloth.
When you first buy a leather piece, it’s still protected by the natural oils it retains after tanning and finishing processes are applied to it. However, after normal use and especially after cleaning it, the leather will lose some of its natural oils and it must be conditioned if you wish to prolong the life of your leather. This should be done about every 6 months (every 3 months if you live in a dry climate). Try Apple Brand Leather Conditioner. While using any leather product make sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions.
Conditioning is best done after you clean your leather bag. When the bag is still slightly damp, the pores in the leather are open. If you apply a LIGHT amount of conditioner on a clean cloth, then it will penetrate into the leather better. Let the bag dry for about an hour in a well ventilated space, and then wipe off any excess conditioner. After 24 hours you may want to apply another light coat of conditioner. If you wish to apply polish to give your bag a nice glossy finish, you still should spot check on a small area and follow the manufacturer’s directions.
That’s about it when it comes to maintaining your leather, just a little TLC. Leather is a great investment that you really don’t have to provide much upkeep for – every 3 to 6 months for a light cleaning and conditioning isn’t too terrible is it?