While Leather is tough as nails, we must also remember that leather is in fact skin. It can dry, crack, stain, warp, etc. Just like your own skin. So today I’ll walk you through the various options for treating and taking care of leather so that whatever form it takes can be passed down your family line.
Leather needs to breathe. Just like skin, leather needs some ventilation to prevent mildew and rot. Air can naturally pass through leather, leaving moisture to evaporate naturally. That can’t happen when your leather is all sealed up, though. So don’t ever store or transport it in a plastic grocery bag (whoops — guilty of that one!). Either use the storage/travel bag the item came with, or some type of breathable fabric — pillowcases are great for shoes, bags, and/or other accessories.
Keep leather away from direct sunlight/heat. If a leather item gets waterlogged, it can be tempting to throw it in front of a heater or to use a hair dryer to speed the process. Don’t do that, ever. Just like skin and other fabrics, when leather gets wet and then heated right away, it can shrink and dry out too quickly. Rather, let it dry naturally, even if it takes a couple days. Also, just generally keep leather out of direct sunlight when storing.
The leather fades naturally over time, but sunlight speeds up that process. Drying and cracking can also ensue. Darker places with some humidity are preferred, although again, ensure air flow so that mildew can’t form.
Below are some further tips to ensure your leather bag stays looking fresh!
- Handle leather handbags with clean hands.
Leather bags are susceptible to absorbing grease and oils. Wipe the surface of a leather tote with a damp white cotton cloth, but be careful not to use too much water, because leather takes time to dry.
- Apply a cleaner specially made for leather.
This “soft soap” is applied using a circular motion and wiped off with a slightly damp cloth so as not to clog the pores of the fabric. Applying this soap one or two times a year should keep your leather handbag clean.
- Moisturize your bag every month with a leather conditioner to keep it supple.
Do not use a conditioner on patent leather purses.
- Remove stains as soon as you notice them.
Organic stains from food or blood can often be removed with chalk powder. Crush white chalk, let it sit on the stain overnight and dust it off with a clean cloth.
- Stuff your unused bag with bubble wrap to restore and hold its shape.
Store your leather purse in a dust bag or natural-fabric pillowcase. You can wrap the chrome or metallic parts — a chain handle, for example — in clean, acid-free tissue paper. If you’ve just cleaned the bag, allow it to air dry completely before storage. If you’re storing long-term, ease open the buckles and straps so impressions are released. This helps to avoid rubbing or permanent creases in unwanted areas.
- Think about using a leather-specific protective spray for brushed or finished leather if you use your bag frequently. Test this product first in an inconspicuous area to see if the finish darkens.
- Keep cosmetics inside a pouch. Cap all pens and anything that leaks. Get a small pencil case to protect the leather and keep small items from spilling or damaging the fabric.
- Avoid cleaning products with alcohol, turpentine or other mineral spirits as they will discolor and dry out leather.
- Never allow water to soak into your bag. If the bag gets wet, do not use a hair dryer on it. Instead, absorb as much water as possible with a thick microfiber hand towel and allow the bag to air dry. Then, condition it again and store it.
- Take extra special care of your bag at hair salons and keep it away from coloring solutions, hair sprays and other hair products.
- Waxes or silicone products clog up leather pores and may render them unable to be cleaned in the future.