To borrow a phrase from Ben Franklin, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Simply stated, it’s easier to take care of your leather products from the beginning instead of trying to correct abuse or neglect.
There are mainly four easily avoidable things that will damage leather and cause deterioration.
Oxidation – A chemical reaction between the leather and different elements (humidity, time, temperature, improper care) identifiable by dryness, flaking, cracking and left unattended, leather will deteriorate to dust in extreme cases. Basically the leather has lost the oils and waxes that keep it soft and supple and it is drying out.
Chemical Damage – Damage caused by chemicals (air pollution, UV light, cleaning products not designed for leather, etc.)
Internal chafing – When leather is dry and bent or flexed the fibers inside the leather do not have the proper lubrication to move smoothly against each other and will break.
Abrasion – This usually affects the outside of the leather when it is rubbed against something, including another piece of leather. It can be internal as well if dirt is rubbed into the leather.
A few basic techniques will keep your leather soft and supple for many years.
First, please never store your leather in plastic bags. Leather needs to breathe. Store leather in a cool dry place in a cloth bag to keep the dust off and let it breathe. Also, do not store leather in a sealed container for long periods for the same reason.
Floggers and Dragon Tails should be stored by hanging by the handle so that the falls are straight. Suede should be brushed periodically with a soft brush. To determine if a brush is soft enough, brush the inside of your arm, if it feels scratchy or is painful, the brush is too stiff, use one that is softer.
If your leather is dirty with dirt, sand, dust or some other dry contaminant, gently brush off debris with a soft brush to remove as much debris as possible before further cleaning.
If leather becomes wet, blot it with paper towels and let it dry naturally.
If a cleaner must be used, use a cleaner that is specifically made for leather. Other cleaning products do not have the proper pH and could damage your leather. Always use a soft gentle circular motion and follow the directions on the leather cleaner. We recommend Lexol-pH® Leather Cleaner (this product is not recommended for suede or glove soft leather). We have used it for years and can testify to it’s effective cleaning.
Leather should be conditioned occasionally and after cleaning. Use a conditioner that is specific to leather. If the leather is old or dry, it will absorb more conditioner than new leather. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to apply the conditioner. We recommend Lexol Leather Conditioner and have used it successfully for years.
If you need to remove mildew or sterilize your leather, mix equal parts of rubbing alcohol and water. Spray diluted alcohol with a fine mist or wet a soft cloth with the mixture to apply it to the leather. Gently wipe the surfaces to remove mildew then allow it to dry naturally.
Suede should only be cleaned with a product that specifically says it can be safely used on suede. Light periodic brushing as stated above is highly recommended. Some dry stains or spots may be removed with a pencil eraser. A dry terry cloth towel or wash cloth will help bring up the nap of the suede when rubbed over it lightly. As a last resort you might try a small amount of white vinegar applied to a soft damp cloth to remove more stubborn stains, then allow to air dry. This may leave a vinegar odor on your suede. Professional cleaning is recommended for heavily stained or soiled suede.