What Happens When You Don't Take Care of Leather?

Published on 08/30/2017

  • What Happens When You Don't Take Care of Leather?

If you’ve ever been to a secondhand store, you’ve seen used leather. While other textiles break down and wear out, leather is a dependable material that can easily last for decades or longer. This is why we seek out leather shoes, watch straps, backpacks, and the like.

Leather is a care-free textile, but it does need a bit of attention from time to time. What happens when you don’t take care of leather?

Leather can dry out and crack

Leather, just like your skin, ages with time. This is generally a good thing. Older leather has that unique look that everyone wants: a rich patina of character.

On the other hand, leather that has been neglected over time can dry out and crack. It takes an awful lot of abuse for this to take place, but it can happen.

Solution: Clean and condition leather twice per year.

Leather can stretch out

If you’ve ever purchased leather hiking boots you know that they’re usually a little snug during the breaking in period. Eventually, with time and wear, they stretch out, giving your feet a little room to breathe.

Leather is incredibly malleable and can withstand a tremendous amount of abuse. But once leather stretches out, it cannot go back to its original size.

Solution: Don’t overstuff leather items like backpacks and wallets. And in the event your leather gets wet, allow it to thoroughly air dry before using again.

Leather can stain

Foods, oils, drinks, inks, and dyes can stain leather. Spills of such items won’t cause as much damage to leather as they will your favorite white blouse, but they can leave evidence of a problem behind.

Solution: You can minimize staining by blotting up stains when they happen and cleaning leather as soon as you’re able.

Leather can mold or mildew

If you live in an area that’s prone to high humidity or you run with your favorite leather backpack through the rain and then leave it to dry in a heap on the floor, leather is every bit as capable of other materials as developing mold or mildew.

Solution: Allow wet leather to air dry naturally, and never store unused leather items in sealed plastic bags.

Much like everything else you own, how you care for leather will determine its longevity. Maintain your leather and you’ll be able to pass it down your family tree for generations to come.


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