Real leather requires some special care, but it is a sturdy material that can provide years of wear. Here are four simple things you can do to keep your leather goods looking clean and feeling supple without frequent professional care.
1. How to store leather
Leather is a natural material that needs to “breathe” to stay supple.
- Store your leather garments in a cool, well-ventilated closet. (Heat can make leather brittle and excessive humidity will lead to mildew and fungus growth.)
- Never wrap leather garments in plastic; it can discolour the leather.
- Because leather is prone to stretching, place garments on padded hangers to help retain their shape.
2. Cleaning leather garments
Leather — smooth or suede — cannot be dry cleaned and may require special leather cleaning.
- Proper brushing and wiping help keep leather and suede from deteriorating. A stain on leather that won’t brush or wipe off should be taken to a leather cleaner as quickly as possible. Though you can try to clean it yourself with a leather-cleaning product, you may end up doing more harm than good.
- If grease is spilled directly onto a leather garment, a quick fix may be to sprinkle an absorbent material (such as flour or cornstarch) on the stain, then immediately brush it off.
- Suede, which should be treated only when dry, stays freshest when brushed gently with a clean dry sponge or soft towel after each wearing.
- Smooth leather can take wiping with a dry or slightly damp cloth, and both smooth leather and suede benefit from the protection against water and stains using silicone spray coatings that you can apply yourself.
- Wear a scarf with a leather jacket to keep the collar area from soaking up body oils.
- Spot-clean leather and suede by carefully rubbing the soiled area with an artist’s eraser.
- Faded leather can be touched up with a commercial leather stain; soften the leather with saddle soap, then apply the stain.
3. Caring for leather shoes
- One of the simplest ways to keep leather shoes looking good is to buy the right size in the first place, which keeps the shoes from stretching.
- Another way to ensure long life for leather shoes is to have more than one pair and to change them regularly, giving them time to air out and regain their natural shape between wearings.
- If heels or soles wear down but the tops are still good, have the shoes resoled or reheeled. A good shoe repair shop can significantly extend the life of a pair of shoes.
- And, finally, store leather shoes on shoe trees to help them maintain their shape.
4. Keep leather bags looking good
A good leather bag can last for years. In fact, a well-cared-for leather bag will take on its own special look and feel as it wears.
- To avoid stains and scratches, be careful where you set it down.
- Practice preventive maintenance by giving the bag a periodic wipe with a damp cloth and a buffing with a leather conditioner.
- Keep scratches touched up with polish or leather conditioner.
- Use a chamois or other soft cloth to shine the bag.
- If clasps or straps on the bag need repair, fix them promptly to avoid unnecessary ripping or fraying.
- Keep bags from touching each other on the closet shelf when in storage. Wrapping the bags in tissue paper can accomplish this, as can simply allowing plenty of space between bags and other items being stored.
- As with other leather pieces in your wardrobe, be sure the storage area is cool and well-ventilated.
Follow these tips and get the most use out of your leather garments by keeping them in excellent shape.