HOW TO CARE FOR LEATHER _
Leather is made from animal skin that has been treated, tanned and dyed. This process prevents it from decomposing, while maintaining all of its properties, texture and flexibility.
Just as you would nourish you own skin, leather garments require love and care. That includes moisturising, applying conditioning oils and creams, keeping a watch for stains and tears, and protecting them from excessive heat.
Taking care of your leather properly will ensure it only gets better with age.
Here are 8 tips (…and a warning!) to keep your closet in optimal conditions for leather.
Moisturizing and "wetting" are two different things!
If you look at your own skin after taking a shower or applying moisturizer, it reacts differently.
Like your skin, leather needs to be hydrated and protected from moisture to prevent it from cracking, staining or losing its colour.
There are special creams or oils for this purpose (we’ve recommended a small selection on our website). You should apply cream regularly - depending on the usage of your garment. Many situations can cause "stress"; a long trip in a different, more extreme climate, to a party or celebration where your garment has suffered (stains, smoke, sweat).
Leather garments should not be exposed directly to the sun or heat sources, such as a stove, heater, fire, sparks or a jet of hot air, as they will dry out and may crack. The minimum safety distance is around 50cm, although this will depend on the intensity of the heat source. When in doubt, keep your garment as far away as possible!
Beware of the sun's rays. Avoid leaving your clothes hanging or exposed to the sun directly for a long time. Both this and the use of other heat sources can modify the structure or colour. This can create alterations in the shape or tone on the surface.
Remember: this only refers to significant temperature differences; wearing garments on a sunny day is totally fine!
If your garment becomes dirty, here’s how you should clean it:
Use a thin cloth or a microfiber dust cloth (dry or slightly moistened, but not wet). If necessary, use a little warm water, but never hot. When finished, remove excess moisture with another dry cloth and let it dry at room temperature, but never in direct sunlight or near heat sources.
Do not use hard brushes, vacuum cleaners or tools that can scratch the surface. Only with suede or nubuck garments can you use special brushes that are specifically made for that surface, but these surfaces are so delicate that it is always advisable to avoid soiling them before having to wash them.
Water or humidity
If your garment becomes wet in the rain or is splashed with water, dry excess water with a cloth (pay attention to wrinkles, open pockets...) and then let it dry open air (always in shade).
Do not hang the garment up! When the item is wet, beware that the weight of the piece itself can cause deformations. A better way to dry your garment is to rest it on a flat surface with a towel underneath, and turn it every so often.
Once dry, use a product specialized in protecting the colour and brightness of your garment.
When liquid (other than water) spills on your garment, try to react immediately, to avoid leather absorbing it. Use absorbent paper or a dry cloth, applying slight pressure to remove it. Do not rub or make circular movements to prevent the stain from spreading.
If your garment is unlined, use a paper or cloth on each side of the leather (inside and outside).
Only after a reasonable amount of time has passed, will it become apparent if it will disappear or leave a mark. In the event a mark is left, special products should be applied to the stain. However, the safest option is taking the garment to a professional to avoid permanent damage.
Never wait until your clothes are "too dirty" to clean them. Excess dust, grease or dirt can dry or fade a garment.
Some recommend keeping leather garments in the closet covered with a cover, but we do not support this because leather is an organic material (i.e. leather breathes).
It is very important to keep leather garments dust-free, for long term use, we recommend a half-cover which cover a quarter or a third of the piece.
We recommend using wide, velvety hangers for jackets, harnesses or vests, and hangers with padded clips for everything else like pants, jocks or chaps.
Never fold your leather pieces for storage!
There are specific products for cleaning leather, which should be applied with a non-absorbent cloth, making circular movements and finishing with a soft cloth or chamois.
The best way to apply treatment is a deep, balanced and uniform impregnation of the material.
There are special detergents for machine washing (always read the instructions as some only work in specific conditions!) with which you simply follow some basic rules:
- Water should be at cold temperature.
- Never centrifuge.
- Badly sewn or loose buttons must be removed (or secured) before washing.
- If possible remove any applications off the garment.
- Never wash two garments together, except when the two or three pieces are part of the same suit or combination.
A deep cleaning treatment is recommended every 6 months - of course, depending on the intensity of use- removing the dust in depth, checking the inside of the pockets, the hems on the cuffs or legs, the inside of the neck, etc.
If in doubt, take your pieces to a dry cleaner that specializes in leather.
A good time to do this is when the season ends and you are going to leave your garment in storage for a few months until the next season.
It is prudent also after a vacation or a party, when you have used the garment excessively or it has become dirtier than normal.
If you have not used or are not going to use a garment for a long period of time -a year or more- don't forget to check its condition every 6 months and apply a moisturizing product.
We’ve previously referred to 4 different leather care products: oil, balm, cream and grease (also called wax).
But how are they different from each other? As well as when and how are they applied.
Before we outline their characteristics, there are 3 golden rules for their effective use:
- Never apply a product without cleaning the leather first. Either clean it superficially with a dry cloth (to remove dust) or more intensely to remove encrusted dirt.
- Use natural products for your garments. Leather is organic and whatever you apply to it should be organic too. Items with artificial ingredients (like petroleum jelly or silicone) provide wonderful superficial results but can cause internal damage by drying and dehydrating the leather.
- Before using any product, make sure you pay close attention to its composition and recommended usage.
Oils and balsams
Leather oils are moisturising and nourishing. They are able to easily penetrate the interior of the material due to their liquid composition, which means that it can protect the leather as a whole.
They are suitable for large surfaces (jackets, shirts, trousers, etc.) and can be applied simply with a dry cotton cloth.
Balms are like more concentrated oils which, apart from their moisturising or nourishing components, also contain sealants that create a protective layer on the surface they are applied to. Many also provide a waterproofing effect against external moisture.
Oils and balsams are particularly suitable for thin to medium supple leathers. Due to their spreadable composition, they easily and quickly impregnate leather.
Creams and waxes
Creams are more fluid in composition, so they are easier to apply and penetrate more easily. Waxes, on the other hand, provide protection also have sealing effects.
Creams may be neutral or contain pigments – to tint or reinforce the colour in areas that are a little "dull", as well as reduce marks or scratches. A sponge is recommended for application, as it will absorb any unnecessary moisture that is released during the application process.
Natural waxes contain just that: beeswax. Avoid mixed or synthetic waxes. They serve to protect and give extra shine to the applied surface. Some of them also contain pigments, although they are usually very light as their function is not to dye thoroughly.
Creams and waxes are optimal for thicker leathers (croupon), often used for harnesses, belts, slings, etc. as well as for most shoes and boots.
Leather is flexible and can become stretched by weight and moisture. Pack your bags lightly, because if used continuously, they can quickly become deformed.
Carrying large items like wallets in back pockets can deform the shape. Try to switch the pocket the item is in and avoid bulky wallets.
We know you love some of your products, but remember leather needs to rest. Change your clothes or leave them in the closet from time to time. Continued use will age it very quickly.
Use wide and resistant hangers for jackets, shirts, vests... this way you will prevent marks or wrinkles forming in certain areas when you use them again after a break.
Avoid colognes, perfumes or intense deodorants, because the neck or armpits of your jacket, shirt or vest will not only absorb the aroma quickly but also its chemical composition, which can quickly dry and crack the leather.
Even if you use oils or grease to take care of the leather you should not confuse these special products with other sort of fats. If you have stains from lubricant, a lot of sweat exposure, liquid silicone, etc... Remove all residues before storing the piece, especially around the pieces or metal applications.
Do not put labels or temporary adhesive patches on your leather garments as they can leave marks when taken off. If you want to fix something on your garment, then the best option is to sew directly over the piece.
Avoid home remedies, internet advice, olive oil, hand cream, talcum powder, vegetable or animal milk. Always use specific products made for leather and, if in doubt, ask a professional!
We’ve provided these general tips to take care of your pieces and pointed you in the direction of our online store where you can find specific products for this purpose.
It’s important to note that the solutions we’ve provided are only for simple problems. The best way to avoid further problems is preventing them in the first place by taking care of your garment.
Please note, even as leather care professionals, it is tricky to provide advice about an issue without being able to physically inspect the garment. If you have a serious problem with tears, loss of colour, stains, cracks or alterations in the shape or flexibility of your garments. Always consult a professional and ideally let them inspect the affected garment in person to find the best solution.