How to soften and protect leather
Leather gets stiff and is prone to staining without proper care. For something so expensive, the last thing you want is to see it peel as it eventually cracks. Today, we will show you the best ways to soften leather. In the end, we would love it if you chose a method that best fits your situation.
Method 1: Coconut Oil
Before you begin, let the leather dry under the sun for ten minutes. Better yet, use a blow dryer to heat the surface of the leather.
The next step is to take coconut oil and rub it on the leather. Use a cotton cloth to do it evenly. One caveat here is that the leather will darken about two shades. Do not use coconut oil to soften the leather if you do not want the leather to darken.
Method 2: Use a Leather Conditioner and protection cream
Expensive leather bags and shoes from brands like Louis Vuitton come with special instructions for leather care. However, they do not sell leather care products.
The alternative is to use leather conditioners that you can easily buy online. Make sure that these products are lanolin-based. Lanolin is a secretion that comes from sheepskin. It is like sebum, the oil that we as humans secrete.
Apply several coats of the condition as the instruction says. Different products have different strengths, so ensure that you read and follow the label accordingly.
Method 3: Use Mink Oil
Mink oil comes from fats from pelts or animal skin. Like lanolin, it is a natural product. To use, apply mink oil with a rag. Let it saturate the leather.
Sometimes, it can take up to three coatings of mink oil for you to see the softening effect. It can also take up to three days for the oil to completely penetrate the leather.
Why does leather get hard?
While leather is one of the best materials to make clothing, bags, and shoes, it does react to the environment. One result of this is the leather gets hard over a long period.
If the leather is improperly stored, it will get dry. For one, the atmosphere has moisture. If exposed enough, the leather gets damaged.
It is not only high humidity that damages leather. Low humidity can also dry it out. Dry air is the number one culprit for leather damage. The hot and dry air sucks the moisture out of leather, thus making it stiff.
So, what should you do? The one thing you can do is set your humidifier to 40%—the maximum is 50%. Anything beyond this limit can damage your leather.
What should you NOT do with leather?
One unfortunate thing that happens all the time is that nobody tells you what to do with your leather. You buy an expensive bag or jacket, and then the seller does not tell you how to care for it. Here, we want to tell you some common things you may do that will damage your leather.
1. Exposure to Sunlight
The sun is the enemy of leather. Too much exposure can dry the leather out. The ideal condition for leather is air with moisture.
Apart from drying out the leather, the sun will also affect its color. In time, the leather will look old and ugly, like a beat-up ancient bag or clothing. Keep your leather away from windows. Please do not leave them in your car.
2. Extreme Temperatures
Too cold or too hot? The leather can feel it too. In addition to this, a sudden change in temperature causes chemical reactions in the leather. The result is damage. For example, if you move the leather from your sofa next to an oven, the leather will get dry.
The same thing goes if you move it from an air-conditioned room then to a car that had been baking under the sun. Keep your leather in areas with similar temperatures to prevent this from happening.
3. Leaving Stains Too Long
We all spill things, or we put our stuff in places where there is liquid. If this happens, you must clean the leather right away.
There are stain removers on the market—do not just use any chemical to remove stains, or it will damage the leather.
Do not soap your leather. Instead, buy leather cleaning kits.
Products you should never use with leather
The world, thanks to the internet, is now teeming with bad information. To help correct myths about leather, below are some products that you should never use in cleaning leatherwear.
These things have acetone, a chemical that will remove color from leather. If you use acetone, it will leave a bleached spot on the leather.
Windex and other window cleaners are bad for leather. Although these cleaners are marketed as harmless, they have alcohol, which can ruin the top coat of the leather.
Markers and pens
Some people use markers to conceal leather imperfections. This is a bad idea. Markers will make the imperfection more noticeable. The ink can also damage the leather. In addition to this, it is nearly impossible to find a marker that resembles the color of your leather.
There are shoe polish products for shoes. But then, the same product must never be used for bags and jackets. The same principle applies to leather furniture.
Leather may have pores, but it will not absorb the wax from shoe polish. The shoe polish will not penetrate the leather, and you end up staining someone’s pants for sitting on your leather couch.
Hair sprays have chemicals meant for hair, which is made of keratin. Leather is not keratin but a different kind of protein. Remember, it is made from skin.
Again, hair sprays contain alcohol, and it will damage the leather. Although alcohol is an effective disinfectant, it is not exactly an excellent stain remover.
Your best bet is never to use any product not made specifically for leather. It is far better to spend a few dollars for a can of leather care than to ruin your leather bag, shoes, jacket, or furniture. Your mantra should be simple: if it is not made for leather, do not use it for leather.
Summary: How to soften and protect leather
You spent a lot of money on your leather; now it is time to care for it. Leather care does not take a lot of time—five minutes of applying a leather conditioning and protection cream will prevent stiffness, cracking and staining.