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Leather Care and Cleaning


One of the real advantages of leather is that it seldom needs to be professionally cleaned. When it does need a professional cleaning, it can be a complicated business. Remember that professionally cleaned leather includes refinishing its color tint. All leather garments lose part of their dye when they are professionally cleaned. Restoring the garment's color is part of the cleaning process. However, some leather tints are hard to match. For this reason, light shades of leather should be avoided. Therefore, it's important to make sure your cleaner knows what he or she is doing. If they are honest with you and say that some of the color will fade, then the cleaner is probably a good cleaner. If they beat around the bush - select another cleaner.


Most of the time you can clean the leather yourself. Smooth leather that has a finish can be cleaned with a damp cloth or sponge to get rid of dust and surface soil. Mild liquid detergent or saddle soap and water may be used to remove more serious dirt or stains. It is a good practice before you dampen leather is to test an inside seam to see if the leather has a finish. Water will bead on finished leather but will cause unfinished leather to spot. It a suede leather garment gets a spot, try using a suede brush or fine sandpaper.


After you clean your leather garment with a damp cloth or a mild soap, pat the surface with a clean soft cloth. Then give the leather a fine dusting with baby powder to seal the pores. Finish with a rubdown using a clean dry cloth to bring back the sheen. A wrinkled garment can be hung in the bathroom while you shower. If the wrinkles don't steam out by themselves, gently iron the garment at a warm setting after layering clean brown paper between the iron and the leather. Store your leather garment in a well-ventilated area and cover with a cloth to keep it dust free. Avoid storing your leather garment in plastic. Leather is porous and it needs to ``breathe".


You can waterproof and protect your leather garment by feeding it with mink oil or silicone spray. However, the process will most likely darken your leather. So its a good idea to test it first on a tiny area on the inside seam. The best advice is to stay out of the rain if at all possible. If you are caught in a shower with an untreated leather garment, allow your leather garment to dry on a flat surface away from heat. Leather should dry at room temperature overnight. Remember, the radiator is no place to dry leather - excess heat saps up the leather's essential oils and can leave it hard and cracked. If your leather garment gets wet, hang it on a wooden or padded hanger away from heat to dry.


When you first purchase you leather garment, put it on a shaped or padded hanger and store it in a cool dry place. Give it plenty of room - it will wrinkle if crowded. And, of course, don't let it come into prolonged contact with plastic or moth balls.