Published on 12/28/2016
Leather is one of the oldest materials known to man, and also the easiest to care for. Whether Santa left a leather wallet in your stocking or someone near and dear gave you a much-needed leather item from your wish list, here’s how you can look after that gift this year and for many years to come.
Real leather only gets better with time. There’s a reason why secondhand shops are filled with old leather coats, leather duffels, belts, shoes and backpacks: leather doesn’t break down like other factory-made materials, and it only gets better with age.
Leather has a breaking in period. Some leathers are stiffer than others and may require a short breaking in period. This is natural. Leather adapts to how you use it and wear it, bending in just the right places to conform to your body.
If you absolutely cannot wait out the breaking in period, you can speed it along by applying saddle soap or a similar cleaner/conditioner once a month to soften leather at an accelerated rate.
Real leather will last a lifetime, and then some. When you buy a leather good, you buy it for life. Take care of your leather and you’ll have it long enough to pass on to your grandkids, who will then pass it on to theirs.
Leather is the most trouble-free natural material on the planet. Unlike factory-made goods, leather needn’t be thrown in the washer or dryer or sent off to the dry cleaner. Nor do you need to follow a ton of specialty care instructions.
Once a month, give your leather item a quick dusting with a dry cloth or soft brush to remove any dirt, dust or debris that may have settled in, paying special attention to seams. And that’s it. And if you miss a month or two, no biggie.
Your leather is likely with you day in and day out, and it’s almost always exposed to the same weather conditioners and environment that you are. For that reason, you’ll want to give it a bit more thorough cleaning once or twice a year and condition the leather so that it stays in top form and never dries out.
You can use an all-in-one leather cleaner and conditioner to do this, or clean and condition with a saddle soap.
When road salt collects on your favorite leather backpack or a wine spill lands on your leather wallet, it may need a little extra help. For those issues, see our spot cleaning guide.
Now, go enjoy that gorgeous piece of leather! The cleaning can wait.