Ultimate Guide to Leather Care
Classic, stylish and durable, a great leather product should last you a lifetime. However, just like most other things, your leather products will become dirty, soiled or scratched over time. The amount of dirt depends on the type of product as well as the use. For example, leather shoes tend to get dirtier, as compared to leather furniture or handbags. When exposed to dirty, dry or wet conditions, leather will require specialized cleaning and conditioning to maintain its shape, strength, and appeal. Whether you have just bought your first leather item or you are a lifetime leather lover, here are some simple maintenance tips to ensure your leather shoes, handbags, gloves, saddles, furniture or purses are always in excellent condition.
Leathers are not all the same. The way they have been finished alters how they feel, the absorbency rate of soiling, colourfastness and at times the need for different care products. Leather is a natural material with pores and hair follicles, similar to our own skin. All leathers are artificially coloured and while a pigmented, top coated leather is less porous than a pure aniline or nubuck, they are all still porous allowing the leather to breathe for your comfort. Leather will absorb soiling which, if not removed regularly will cause premature wear and discolouration.
DEFINING WEAR ~ It is not necessarily how many times you sit down and get up, but the total hours spent in your furniture each day. Understanding this helps you understand the maintenance required. Also important is the type of soiling. At Pellé we break this into two areas, ie wet and dry soiling (wet being the most damaging). While some forms of wet soiling are obvious such as spillages, others are not and can cause damage over a relatively short period. Perspiration ~ from hair, arms and legs on areas of contact can cause colour destabilisation or loss, leading to breakdown of the leather, causing a repair which may have been avoidable with a little extra attention when cleaning. Thinking about wear and examining your furniture while cleaning, can help prevent small problems becoming large ones.
CLEANING YOUR LEATHER
As much as leather is hard-wearing and durable, it sometimes requires cleaning to remove grease, stains, soil and other forms of dirt. When leather absorbs these forms of dirt, the oils already inside can become discolored and contaminated. Therefore, it’s advisable to remove these stains as soon as possible. When it comes to cleaning leather, focus on removing stains while preventing the leather from excessive drying.
When cleaning leather, you want to spray a small amount of cleaner on the leather, or apply the leather cleaner with a lint-free cloth. Gently massage the cleaner over the leather to remove dirt and grime, concentrating on heavily soiled or stained areas. (Always test any product you apply to your leather in a discreet area first.)
Never use harsh soap, baby wipes or strong chemicals for cleaning or removing stains. This can lead to discolouration, drying, cracking and the buildup of grease, among other issues.
CONDITION THE LEATHER WITH A QUALITY LEATHER CONDITIONER
Conditioning adds moisture and nourishment to the leather. Leather tends to dry out, crack or peel over time. With new leather, conditioning helps to keep the surface soft and supple to prevent these issues and maintain the flexibility of the leather’s inner fibers. The conditioning method applied will depend on the type of leather used to make your item.
To condition your leather, apply a bit of conditioner to a lint-free cloth, then gently apply to your leather in a thin, even coat. Never squirt or apply leather conditioner directly to the leather; doing so may cause more product to absorb at the first application site, leaving an uneven appearance at first. (We recommend testing any leather conditioner in a discreet area, as suggested with cleaning.)
Allow the conditioner to dry for at least two hours, or overnight if you have the time. Then gently buff off any excess. For older or excessively dry leather, you may need to apply an additional coat.