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Cleaning and Conditioning Vintage Leather

Leather is a classic, and it has stayed that way due to its undeniable durability and flexibility. Leather can be used in anything— shoes, bags, clothes, and even furniture! However, it can also be extremely hard to maintain, because if you do not know how to give it the TLC it deserves, it can be dry and stiff and can crack easily. We know you don’t want that, so here’s a few tips on proper cleaning and conditioning your leather!

If you want your leather item to last you longer, you need to treat it like how you would your skin. If you do it properly, your vintage leather can last generations, and we mean it!

Cleaning Leather

First things first, identify the type of leather you’re handling. This will help you select the perfect leather cleaners to use. You can check if your leather is natural or treated by touching it. Natural or untreated leather does not have a protective coating, while treated leathers do. You can tell that your leather is untreated if it’s soft to the touch and doesn’t feel like it has a plastic coating.

Next, dust off your leather item using a soft brush, preferably a horsehair brush, or a soft cloth. This will take off any superficial dirt such as dust or oil that may have clung onto your leather. Go over it with your clean cloth or brush gently using a circular motion. It is also important that you do this regularly to keep your leather looking clean and shiny for a longer period of time.

Afterwards, use a saddle or leather soap. Make sure to read all the instructions on the soap you’re using to know if you’re using the right one for your leather pieces! Rub it over on your leather using circular motions and wipe gently with a clean cloth, but use a separate one to ensure that all residues are removed. Soap and water residue may cause your leather to be dry, therefore damaging it.

Finally, allow your leather to dry. Do not use dryers with high heat because it will weaken the leather and crack it! Air dry it for at least 2 to 3 hours.

Conditioning Leather

Just like your skin, leather needs to be moisturized too. This will help replenish the tanning oils that have depleted over time. After these leather cleaning steps, here are steps you need to take to properly condition your leather to make it last longer:

First, dust off old leather. Be careful of peeling and cracking leather, you do not want to agitate it! Dust lightly using a soft brush or cloth to avoid ripping old leather as it is fragile to damage.

Use a damp cloth and put some leather conditioner on it. Keep in mind that you should NOT directly apply it to leather, but on the damp cloth only. Avoid waxes or silicone on your leather conditioner as this prevents the leather from breathing.

Apply a thin layer and gently rub it in your leather, focusing on damaged areas and make sure to cover all parts of the leather. If you will be doing a heavy conditioning, keep applying a small amount gradually so the leather will have enough time to soak and absorb the conditioner. Leave for at least 30 minutes before applying another coat, or until you get your desired results.

Here are a few more reminders when cleaning and conditioning leather:

  • If your leather is vintage, DO NOT wash it in the washing machine. However, if you still wish to do so, do not use too much soap as it will dry out your leather.
  • When storing your leather pieces, store them in an environment that is not exposed to heat, humidity, dirt and chemicals to preserve their quality.
  • Treat the stains as early as possible. The longer the stain sits on your leather, the harder it will be to remove.
  • Trust your dry cleaner. More often than not, washing leather is tough! Let the experts handle it for you.

Cleaning and conditioning leather is very important so your favorite leather can last. With all these steps, you can now flaunt your freshly cleaned vintage leather without worrying about all the cleaning it needs.

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