Though leather is known for its incredible durability, it can definitely be mistreated and destroyed if not cared for properly. Exposure over long periods of time to low relative humidity can cause leather to become desiccated, irreversibly changing the fibrous structure of the material.
Leather is also susceptible to absorbing grease and oils, so always handle your fine leather goods with clean hands. Whether you are dealing with leather belts, leather bracelets, leather backpacks, satchels, or furniture, you will want to clean your products ever six months or as needed to condition and protect them from soiling and water spotting.
For the most part, when you are cleaning leather, you just need to avoid drying it out. Rather than spending absurd amounts of money on special leather cleaning products, you can rely on just a few products you may already have on hand.
Step-by-Step Leather Cleaning Process
- Gather your supplies: You will need gentle hand soap, olive oil, tap water, and several soft, clean cloths. Before you begin cleaning your fine leather goods, test the cleaning method on a small, hidden corner to make sure that it won?t harm the leather.
- Prepare a rag/cloth: Wet the entire rag if you intend to clean a large area. For a small stain, just run the corner of the cloth under the tap. Squeeze out any excess water. Your rag should be damp, not sopping wet.
- Apply the soap: Apply just a small amount of soap onto the cloth and rub the cloth against itself to work the soap in before you start to clean. Then rub a light lather of soap from the cloth onto the leather.
- Dampen another cloth: The cloth should just be slightly damp when you use it to wipe the soap residue from the leather. Too much water will damage the leather.
- Remove excess water: Use a dry cloth to wipe off the water and then let the item sit to air dry.
- Condition the leather: The soap will have removed some of the leather?s natural oils. To prevent the material from drying out, put a very small amount of olive oil on a dry rag and gently rub it into the leather. If the leather is shiny or dark after applying the oil, you have used too much.