How To Deal With Wet Leather

Published on 04/17/2017

  • How To Deal With Wet Leather

April showers bring May flowers, as the saying goes, but they also create lots of messes. Wet clothing and belongings are just a few of the added chores that come with warmer weather, and that means there’s a good chance you’re going to get caught in a downfall or two in your new leather shoes, leather backpack, or designer leather bag. No worries! Remember, our ancestors made tents, utensils and even drinking vessels from leather. As a textile, leather can withstand more than you can ever throw at it.

Have a wet bag, wallet or backpack? Here’s what to do.

Step 1: Pull moisture from the leather

If your leather damp but not wringing wet, you can skip this and move on to step two. But if your leather is soaked through and through, you’ll want to get as much moisture removed from it as you can, and as quickly as possible. Doing this will protect the natural oils and preservatives found in leather, and also keep it from drying out and changing shape.

Use a clean, dry rag or towel to soak up water from the outside and inside of the leather by pressing the rag firmly against the leather repeatedly. If you have a wet backpack, bag or pair of shoes, you can also place newspapers inside the item to help draw moisture out. Replace the newspapers with fresh pages every hour and repeat this process until they are no longer absorbing any moisture.

Step 2: Dry at room temperature

Allow your leather items to dry naturally and at room temperature. Never use a blow dryer, clothing dryer, or the sun to try and speed up the process. Finished leather will dry naturally over a short period of time. It’s OK to put your shoes, bag or wallet on the back deck to dry out, just try and keep things from the harsh afternoon sun.

Step 3: Soften the leather

If you’ve ever worn leather work or winter gloves and gotten them wet, you know that some leathers can feel stiff after they dry out. Putting those gloves back on and wearing them for a bit softens the leather back up. That’s what you’re going to need to do with your now dry leather. Simply bend the leather back and forth a bit, paying special attention to areas that seem stiff or dry.

Step 4: Condition leather

You’ll want to add a bit of moisture back into your leather and also help protect it against future damage. Do this in one step with an over-the-counter leather cleaner/conditioner. Follow the directions listed on the whatever product you choose to use.

Step 5: Dry

If your cleaner or conditioner needs time to set, here’s where you’re going to repeat step two. Allowing your newly cleaned and conditioned bag or wallet to dry overnight will let the conditioner seep into the leather and do its work.

Leather can withstand a tremendous amount of exposure to the elements. Even so, caring for your leather will extend its natural life and keep your leather backpack or wallet looking its best for generations to come.


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