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5 Tips For Leather Care

by , October 5, 2010

leather-care (660x402)

5 Tips for Leather Care

Leather is everywhere in the world of carry, and so we thought we should have a little look into how to care for the stuff. And because this is Carryology, you know we’re going to start with a touch of background…

Background (as promised): Leather is rad. It essentially takes the highly evolved hide of an animal, removes anything that might putrify (like any life, proteins or peskily vermin), and leaves behind a collagen structure that is strong yet pliable, and which can be dyed, painted or imprinted with almost any form of craziness.

So if we’re taking a live skin, and essentially Hans Solo Cryovacing it to stop the life in it, that means we need take a few measures to preserve some semblance of this homeostasis. In other words, we can treat it bad, but not too bad. Essentially, you don’t want it returning to life.

There’s kinda 2 schools to leather care:
1. Pick a leather that develops a rich patina, and then let your life story start to show
2. Preserve leather so it forever looks new

We are much more for School number 1, so our tips are going to be about how to keep your leather dead, while letting your history of use bring it to life (dang that was cheesie).

Tip 1
If leather gets too wet: Dry it slowly. Speed drying leather changes its chemical structure, and you end up with stiff crinkle cut chaos. So room temperature with gentle air works better than direct heater time with hair-dryer. And keep it in the shape you want it to end up.

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Tip 2
If leather gets too dry: Rub something moist into it. Pick a leather dressing or cream, preferably recommended by the maker. Leathers can have paints, waxes, oils and all sorts of things applied to their surface, so you probably want to pick something similar to how it came. Personally, we mostly use Dubbin for heavier use applications (because our dads did), or a lighter leather cream for wallets.

Cracked_Leather (660x368)

Tip 3
If leather gets dirty: Just use a damp cloth. You don’t want to be putting any soaps or foreign substances in there.

how-to-clean-a-leather-sofa (660x372)

Tip 4
Leather stretches out, but not back: If you start to overfill a wallet, it will never really return to it’s former taut self. If you stretch a leather bag when wet or very humid, it will move even faster. Just learn to carry the right amount, and this takes care of itself.

stretchedleather (660x406)

Tip 5
Don’t wrap it in plastic: Going back to that Cryovac analogy, it can help to think of leather as having the life frozen rather than completely killed. Hans Solo still needed a tiny bit of air, and so does your leather. What you’re really trying to stop is any mildew growth, so keep some ventilation going.

han-solo-frozen-in-carbonite (660x251)

That’s probably it from us for now. If anyone feels like adding special case care tips or has a favourite product to share, we’d love to hear from you.

  • http://www.heritagepolish.com/leather.html Jim Reah

    Some very good tips. To look after your leather properly try Heritage Leathercare. Heritage feeds, protects, polishes leather and will clean most colours. Brings tired leather back to life. Check it out at http://www.heritagepolish.com/leather.html Buy it online, visit http://www.heritagepolish.com/shop/heritage-leathercare/cat_4.html

    • http://www.bellroy.com ando

      Thanks Jim,
      nice to have a professional endorsing our tips :)

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  • Ando

    And a great tip from Eric, who you might remember from his Hard Graft 2 Unfold video review (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfxwo1dZPw4)…

    After trying 4 or 5 different leather products, he’s fallen in love with Obenauf’s Heavy Duty LP (https://www.obenaufs.com/index.php?route=product/category&path=20), as a heavy duty wax based conditioner that respects the leather without much discolouration.

  • http://www.bellroy.com ando

    Some great specific tips for recovering and improving certain types of leather damage listed over on Valet mag, including recommended products: http://www.valetmag.com/the-handbook/features/2011/31-days/day26-how-to-care-for-leather.php

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  • http://www.leatherhoney.com Arielle at Leather Honey

    These are great tips, Ando, and we’d definitely agree with you on all counts. A couple other things we’d point out:

    - If you have an issue with mildew, you can take care of that with a simple mix of apple cider vinegar and water. We suggest cleaning it first, then applying the vinegar mix to cut out mildew.
    - We second your tip about simple cleaning methods, like water, being best for leather. However, if you need a deeper clean, we’ve found that a mild soap like Murphy’s Oil Soap or plain old dish detergent work best to cut grease and oil, which is usually what you’re dealing with on leather items.
    - Understand conditions that can be tough on leather; namely heat, moisture and direct sunlight. If your leather is exposed to these – a car that sits outside the garage all day, or a couch that sits in direct sunlight – it will likely need to be conditioned more often, and should be conditioned new as a preventative measure.
    - Finally, choose a leather conditioner that is solvent-free, because it will penetrate deeply and won’t evaporate – which means you won’t have to reapply as frequently. Of course, we’re partial to our product (Leather Honey) which is solvent-free, water-resistant, and non-toxic. It softens, protects and extends the life of leather (and often hides scratches or stains).
    - No matter what you apply to your leather, whether it’s soap and water or a conditioner, always test it in a discreet area first to make sure that the leather wasn’t treated with something by the manufacturer that will affect the results.

    Hope these tips were helpful – thanks for inviting our opinion!

    • Ando

      Some great additions to the tips Arielle. Stoked you could take the time!

    • http://shawndcallahan.com Shawn Callahan

      It seems like you can only buy leather honey in the USA. Can it be shipped to Australia or better still, can we buy it in Australla?

      • http://www.carryology.com/ ando

        Looks like there’s a Kiwi charging less than $10 to send it across the ditch: http://www.leatherhoney.co.nz/store/

        • Shawn Callahan

          Good find Ando. Thanks

        • Darren

          He is also charging double the cost for the leather honey , he should be wearing a mask like ned Kelly

          • Ando

            Darren,
            I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried importing and reselling goods, but at a small scale it can be really expensive.

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  • http://www.eloncleaners.com Tom

    Great tips!
    To take best care to your leather, try ELON Leathercare — ALL NATURAL product only from plant derived ingredients.
    No alcohol, ammonia, abrasives, petrochemical solvents nor wax…
    Neutral pH makes it mild and it’s safe to skins or leather and will keep the leather supple and shiny.
    Check it out at http://www.eloncleaners.com/products/leather-cleaner-lnc778.htm
    Try it and restore your leather back to nature!

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  • RR

    These are def a great tips to be followed Ando. I am not good at taking care of my leather stuff :)

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  • CH4:D

    The images are missing.

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  • Kyle

    Great Article! Super good tips and to the point.

    Check out out hand-crafted leather goods: http://www.amosbrand.com

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