Care for Your Leather Wallet the Right Way

Published on 09/12/2015

If you’re lucky enough to own a leather wallet you’ve probably noticed that it ages well. Leather has been used as a textile since man began making fire and one thing hasn’t changed in all those years:  leather is durable, handsome and easy to care for. Despite these facts, leather should be given a little tender loving care once in awhile.

General maintenance

You likely won’t notice much wear and tear on your leather wallet on a day-to-day basis. That’s because leather wears well, and all those natural ridges, grooves, and colorings help to hide dirt and gunk and blemishes. It’s there though, trust me. Each time you pull your wallet from your pocket or messenger bag, the oils from your hands transfer to your wallet. Drop your wallet on the ground, even on a dry surface like an office floor, and you’ve suddenly covered your billfold with whatever yuck and germs lurked there.

You can avoid having to deep clean your wallet by regularly giving it some attention. How do you do that?

  • Step 1: Empty your wallet, placing all of its contents aside.
  • Step 2: Take a warm, damp rag and gently wipe down your leather wallet using small circular motions.
  • Step 3: Allow your wallet to air dry completely before replacing its contents.

Going deeper?

If you’ve been neglecting your wallet or suddenly find yourself with a deeply set stain, you’ll need to do a more thorough cleaning. This simple process will rid your wallet of problem areas like stains, loose any dirt that’s been clinging to the interior and exterior of your wallet, and return it to like-new condition.

  • Step 1: Empty out your wallet.
  • Step 2: Create a mixture of warm water and baby shampoo, then gently wash your leather wallet by hand with a soft rag using a light, circular motion.
  • Step 3: Rinse your wallet under a warm tap to remove any lingering suds.
  • Step 4: Pat wallet with a soft, dry cloth to remove as much water as possible.
  • Step 5: Allow your wallet to air dry completely before using.

Special circumstances

Because leather is an all-natural material, it can deteriorate if not cared for properly. If you drop your wallet in a puddle of standing water, it’s going to need some quick help. Special circumstances require special attention.

What to do if leather gets too wet

If you stand in the rain for a long period of time waiting for a cab your wallet is probably going to get soaked right along with the rest of you. In cases where your wallet ends up getting wet (or even damp) due to weather, or is submerged in water for even a brief period of time, you need only let your billfold dry at room temperature to return it to its usual condition. If water has beaded up on the surface, use a dry cloth to blot as much water as possible before leaving your wallet to air dry.

What to do with a wallet that gets too dry

You can prevent your leather billfold from looking and feeling dry and brittle by conditioning it at least once every six months. If you fail to do that, you will potentially shorten the life of even high grade leather. We recommend using Kali Leather Life, a natural protein-based lotion that can clean leather as well as prevent cracking, splitting, scuffing and mildew. Leather that has started to dry out can be brought back to life with a good conditioner and a little elbow grease.

A few thoughts

  • Leather stretches but doesn’t return to its original shape, so always avoid overstuffing your billfold with unnecessary items.
  • Never use a blow dryer to dry your wallet. Leather needs to naturally air dry to retain its shape and chemical structure. Trying to rush this process will leave you with a dried-out wallet that may not bounce back from abuse.
  • Grease can be pulled from leather with a dry paper towel and a bit of talcum powder.
  • Prevent stains from setting by applying a dry rag to your wallet to sop up any liquid immediately.
  • A dab of rubbing alcohol on a rag can remove simple stains before they have a chance to set.
  • Never throw your wallet into a washing machine or dishwasher. The harsh chemicals, excessive motion and high heat will destroy natural leathers and hand stitching.
  • Try to keep your wallet out of direct sunlight for a long periods of time to prevent drying out leather.

Leather wallets are timeless accessories that are quite capable of outliving you, but only if they’re protected and maintained. When it comes to high grade leather, a little time and attention goes a long way.


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