Leather is an enduring fashion trend, but the cleaning requirements are constantly changing due to changing manufacturing processes. Being expensive, leather needs regular professional attention to last longer and offer greater value.
Leather care is still a very nascent concept in India, with hardly any professional services available to offer proper guidance on maintaining your leatherwear. Information available on the Internet is misleading, inaccurate and often quite confusing. Care label information is not of much help either. Leather care products available on the market, if used without proper instructions, can end up destroying the original finish of leather, causing dryness and cracking.
Certified Leather Care Technician
30 Years of Industry Knowledge
Founder @ The Leather Laundry
Leather should be cleaned and moisturized regularly so that it remains in top form and retains its original look, feel and softness. Different leather types require different care protocols.
Keep your leather product looking new by using leather conditioners that soften, condition and waterproof leather effectively.
How to Clean Leather - Dry and Wet Leather Care
Leather conditioners should be used to prevent cracking of leather during dry weather.
Waterproof sprays and creams should be used to protect leather from moisture under wet conditions. A top-coat of leather conditioner should be applied after the application of the water-proofing agent. Leather is prone to spotting if it comes in contact with water. In such a case, it should be dried out at room temperature in gentle air. Avoid using hair-dryers or other sources of hot air, which may cause leather to shrink.
- Brush off dry dust using a soft cloth or a leather care brush.
- Wipe off dirt by gentle brushing with a mildly damp towel.
- Salt causes leather to crack. It should thus be wiped off before it dries out, preferably with a damp sponge. Afterwards, a top-coat of leather conditioner is recommended.
- Keep newspapers and pens away, as ink stains are tricky and sometimes hard to remove.
How to Clean Suede:
- Gentle brushing with a suede brush is recommended to clean suede leathers.
- For dry stains on suede, use a pencil eraser.
- In case of a liquid spill, blot quickly (without pressing down too hard), instead of wiping off, to prevent the liquid from seeping in deeper.
How to Store Leather Jackets:
- The best way to store a leather jacket is by hanging it on a wide padded hanger
- Fold/wrap carefully to avoid creasing.
- Avoid plastic bags and instead use cloth bags to store your leather product, as leather needs to breathe.
- Creases and wrinkles from a leather jacket can be removed by hanging it in a bathroom after a hot steam shower.
- In case leather needs to be ironed, a thick sheet of paper/cloth should be placed between leather and iron to prevent direct exposure to heat.
How to Store Handbags:
- Wipe your bag with a damp cloth to remove dry dust/dirt sitting on the surface
- Apply a thin layer of a good leather conditioner and leave it to age for 30 minutes. Then wipe off the surface of the bag with a dry muslin cloth! Handbag reconditioning is recommended at least once a year.
- Fill the bag with crumbled butter paper, bubble wrap or plastic cushion air bags to help it retain it's shape. Do not use newspapers, as the ink tends to rub off on the inside fabric.
- Store the bag in a dust bag or pillow cover. Avoid storing in a plastic bag as the handbag needs to breathe and the slightest bit of moisture can cause mildew/mold.
- Store the bag in a cool & dark place. Do not hang the bag , as it stretches out the handles.
How to Store Shoes:
- Before storing your shoes, make sure you give them a generic cleaning and conditioning treatment
- Leather shoes need to be stored in a temperature-controlled area that is cool and dry as high moisture and very hot and cold temperatures tend to destroy leather.
- Stuff shoes up with acid free butter paper to help them retain their shape. You can alternatively use shoe trees.
- Patent shoes should be stored in cloth bags as patents are quite prone to dye transfers! It is also needed so that they remain shiny and fresh.
- Store shoes in their original shoe boxes if space permits. There should be dedicated shoe racks for each season
- For boots, should be stored upright using a boot stand so they retain their shape.
Generic Tips on How to Clean a White Leather Couch/Sofa at Home:
- Firstly it is important to do a patch test on a small portion of the sofa that is not noticeable.
- Damp a soft muslin cloth with water and apply a mild body wash on the surface of the leather, and rub in circular motions with gentle pressure. Do not lather up and make the leather too wet.
- Once the cloth becomes dirty, rinse it with water and repeat the drill.
- Finally buff the area with a clean dry cloth. Do not leave the leather wet at any cost.
- The above steps apply to generic cleaning of dry dirt/dust/muck. If there is a nasty stain that just refuses to budge, then do not try any home remedies & instead contact a leather care professional near you.
How to Clean Patent Leather Shoes & Bags:
- Take a soft cloth and damp it with water and gently rub it on the surface of the patent leather to remove the dry dirt and dust.
- Patent leather is highly prone to dye transfers through scuffing and scratching! If the stain is fresh then quickly remove it through the application of petroleum jelly or isopropyl alcohol.
- However if the above two agents do not work, that means that the stain has been absorbed into the lacquer. In this case kindly avoid the use of a nail polish remover with acetone, as that will destroy the lacquer coating.
- Thus for patent leathers, prevention is always better than cure! Always store your patent leather bags and shoes in dust bags to prevent them from catching dye from other products! Exposure to sunlight can also cause irreversible color fading on patent leather.
- Stuff the bag with acid free paper, bubble wrap or clothing and make it sit upright to help it retain it's form.
Pro Tip: If you are wondering how to clean handbags, how to clean leather wallets or how to clean leather jackets, avoid leather cleaning at home and instead consult a professional from time to time. If at all you plan to clean at home, do a patch test first and avoid using hard chemicals.
General Packing Tips
Please be sure to go through below mentioned packing tips to secure your products against possible damage during transit-
- Make sure you use a good conditioned box that has enough room for the product and is slightly bigger than the product. For smaller products use kraft bubble envelopes or poly bubble mailers as an alternative.
- Use bubble wrap or foam for additional security. Use silica gel packets (if possible) to keep moisture at bay.
- Use strong brown packing tape that is at-least 2 inches wide to seal your packet/box.
- For delicate products (like stilettos), please pack with extra caution using bubble wrap for cover and foam for minimum movement. The box should have a rigid front and back to avoid damage due to collision.
- Try covering zippers, buttons and other fittings of your product with a newspaper/butter paper to avoid marks from occurring on leather.