Caring for your leather goods

Fiebing

These folks have been around a looong time!

This is a post I have over at the Shadow Aero 750 forums that I thought made sense to share here as well.  Most people have something made of leather, whether it is a motorcycle accessory, a personal accessory, home furniture or some other item.  While leather is extremely durable and even it’s faux counterpart, Vinyl, can last a while; they still need some TLC every so often so they last generations vs. years.

The surrounding environment will be the biggest determining factor on how much or how often leather should be cared for, but at the very least a yearly ‘check-up’ will do.  Sunlight (UV Rays), extreme temperatures hot or cold, moisture, type of use, etc. all play a part in the aging of leather.  First determine how the piece is used, what it is exposed to and how it is aging to decide the extent of care needed.

Motorcycle accessories:
A leather cleaner/conditioner should be used every time you wash your bike. If you’re like my friend John, who seems to think dust is an effective paint aging technique, once a month should at least be the goal.

Wallets, clutches, belts, etc:
Once every 6 months or so should be fine for most articles.  If the item is subject to heavy use like a construction worker’s tool belt, once a month is better.

Jackets, vests, other clothing articles:
Unless you have them dry cleaned, these articles just need a good cleaning & protectant after 2-3 uses.  Many folks don’t understand why their leather jacket starts to come apart after only 2-3 seasons of use citing it’s the crappy leather or the manufacturer’s fault.  Proper care can make a well made jacket last 10-15 years assuming you don’t grow out of it in one direction or another.

Solutions:

There are plenty of brands on the market of leather cleaners, protectants, sealers, etc.  I have found that one of the best brands is Fiebing.  You buy the can of spray from the mall store where you bought your jacket but I guarantee that if you walked into 100 leatherworking shops you won’t see that product in any of them.  Buy what the folks making the item use.  We read forums, reviews and personally test finishes to make sure they work. Makes sense that you should use the same products if you want your leather items to last.

Light Duty cleaning/conditioning:  Fiebings 4 Way Leather Care is a great way to clean and condition items that don’t have heavy exposure or uses.  Excellent for upholstry, light leathers, everyday items like jackets, wallets, etc. because it doesn’t leave any residue.  Simply spray on and rub off.

Medium Duty: this would be for motorcycle accessories, riding jackets that have been roughed up a bit and other articles that see more sun, temperature or dirty conditions. Liquid Glycerine Saddle Soap followed by Leather Balm with Atom Wax is a good combo.  The Saddle Soap will clean and buff the leather and the Leather Balm will add a bit of protection for the next outing.

Heavy Duty: Items that spend a good amount of time in the sun, extreme cold or heat, dirty conditions need a bit more help than the others.  Liquid Glycerine Saddle Soap to clean, then Aussie Leather Conditioner over the top of that.  If the items really sees some use like a daily use horse saddle, add a coat of Neatsfoot Oil in between the saddle soap and conditioner to replace the natural oils that evaporate over time.

Moisture: if your leather goods see a lot of moisture, (rain, consistent fog, morning dew, etc.) it’s a good idea to periodically add in a water resistant finish  like Snow Proof.  Best used between the cleaning and conditioning stages it will help keep the summer rains or winter snows from getting into your leathers.  There are different types of Snow Proof pastes, sprays & liquids depending on the leather article, so be sure to read label.

You can find more information and retailers (or buy online) via the links below:

http://www.fiebing.com/Leather_Care.aspx

http://www.fiebing.com/Snow_Proof.aspx

Fine print: I am not a Fiebings employee or representative, am not paid for the endorsement and don’t even receive free products for saying I like them.  I’m just simply passing on good info as I was taught.

Drop me a comment or message if you have a specific question.

~Chris

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5 Responses to “Caring for your leather goods”

  1. My brown leather jacket was washed by someone and she hanged it in the sun, now it’s texture is soft and it’s surface is coming of any idea of how i can try to save it?

    • Unfortunately, if the surface is coming off it means one of two things. Either it isn’t truly leather (which is common with jackets) or the absorption of water caused the leather to swell and when it dried it contracted, causing the skin and flesh layers to separate and flake apart. Either way, there isn’t much you can do to save it once the flaking starts. This is the reason leather companies make special leather cleaners and conditioners. Water + detergent and leather typically don’t play well together.

  2. […] Caring for your leather goods – update Back in August I talked about how to take care of your leather goods and about the Fiebing product line.  (Click here for the original post) […]

  3. Great Post!…

    […] I found your entry interesting thus I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog 🙂 […]…

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