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Leather is an investment. A leather handbag or a pair of shoes made from good, quality leather should be expensive. It’s one of those materials that requires an upfront investment along with frequent care. But the payoff is worth it. A fine leather item that’s been cared for wears beautifully with age and will last through generations. Here are five simple tips to keep in mind when caring for leather.
1. A Little Prep Goes A Long Way
Get to know the type of leather you have. Read the tags or ask the seller for information. If you’ve already purchased a leather chair or bag, call the manufacturer and ask for more details. Finished and unfinished leather require different cleaning methods. Top-grain, full grain, split and bicast are all words used to describe finished leather. Saddleback leather has a great glossary to help you with all the terms.
2. Condition To Prevent Cracks
Think of leather like skin — because it is! It needs conditioning to maintain its moisture and prevent cracking and drying. Find a good conditioner that doesn’t contain waxes or silicone. It’s important to apply the conditioner to a soft cloth and not directly to the leather. Allow conditioner to penetrate for 30 minutes before applying another coat.
3. Study Up Your Products
Saddle Soap is the best way to clean unfinished leather. It’s gentle and non-abrasive. For finished leather, a handful of household items can do the trick. Got a dark spot on your leather chair? Mix one part lemon juice and one part cream of tartar, apply to the spot, and clean off with warm water and soap. This article on eBay has more tips for cleaning leather with household products.
4. Know The Enemies
Avoid these substances when working with leather, according to the vintage clothing page on About.com:
- Household cleaners
- Turpentine (and mineral spirits)
- Waxes or silicone
5. Store It Well
Store leather in a cool and dry place. Be sure to keep it out of sunlight to prevent fading. Moisture can lead to mold, a major enemy. You can prevent dampness by stuffing boots and bags with acid-free paper. This will also help the piece maintain its shape.