Frequently asked questions about caring for leather
In shoes, leather is pretty much taken for granted, because it’s such a common thing. In many parts of the world, school children wear leather shoes as part of their uniform. They care for their shoes by polishing them three or four times a week, shining them every day, and scuffing them with their handkerchiefs (or the soles of their socks) during school inspections. Getting these shoes soaked in the rain or puddles generally ruins them though.
Adults are a lot more careful with their leather oxfords and brogues. They can be professionally cleaned by a shoe-shiner, but they still shouldn’t come into contact with large amounts of water. If the shoes have mud or tough stains, they can be wiped with a damp cloth, but they don’t need soap and shouldn’t be submerged.
How do I clean leather bags, belts, and jackets?
These require a slightly different routine from shoes. They come into contact with human skin a lot more often, so they can absorb biological materials. Like shoes, leather garments should be kept dry as much as possible. If you get stuck in a drizzle or downpour, wipe your garment with soft, clean cotton rug to get rid of as much moisture as you can, then air dry it.
To clean your belt or jacket, wipe it with a dry, soft cloth, preferably cotton or microfibre. You can dampen the cloth a little to remove tougher stains. If food or other products spill on your garment, wipe it off as soon as you notice it, or cover it with ground chalk. You can use a special leather cleaner called ‘soft soap’. Rub it onto the leather using circular movements.
Wipe off the ‘soap’ with a damp cloth, making sure it all comes off, otherwise you’ll blog the leather pores and prevent your garment from breathing. This ‘washing’ doesn’t need to be done frequently. Two or three times a year is enough. To keep your bag or jacket moist and supple, moisturise it with a special leather conditioner. Just like shoes, your bag should be stuffed when you’re not using it. This helps the bag retain its shape.
How do I care for leather furniture?
Leather furniture is slightly different from leather shoes. The material is much larger in size, and is often a different grade from shoes and garments. Its care is similar though. Get rid of stains as soon as you spot them. Wipe the lounge with damp cotton cloth and avoid getting it wet. You can also use the soft brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner.
While it’s possible to clean leather lounges with a little soap and water, it can darken the leather. Sun exposure can do that to, so try to keep your leather seats out of direct sunlight. To clean stains and spots, use a special leather cleaner that you can rub on the stain and wipe off, just like a bag, belt, or jacket. Clean your leather once a week.
Two to three times a year, apply leather conditioner on all parts of your leather lounge. It keeps the leather nice and moist, extending its life span. Conditioning is easy. Just apply a small amount and rub it into the leather using rounded motions. If there’s any excess conditioner, wipe it off with dry rag to prevent smears.
How do I stop my chairs from cracking?
Genuine high quality leather doesn’t crack as much as synthetic or patent leather, but it does eventually. Remember that leather is made from animal skin, so just like our own skin, it will eventually age. While living skin will wrinkle, ‘dead skin’ like leather cracks instead. So while you can’t stop cracks forever, you can at least slow their progress, just like we do with our own skin. Conditioning twice a year definitely helps and dusting every week.
You can also position your leather lounges in a relatively sheltered area. Sunlight, live flames, and strong wind will dry out the leather’s natural moisture, making it more susceptible to cracking. You should handle the leather carefully. This can be hard to do when you have pets and toddlers, but avoid cutting or scratching the chairs, and try to keep the kids from using the chairs as a notebook, because ballpoint ink is a tough stain to remove.