How to take care of your leather ?

3 Mar, 2021
Written bysylvain houry

Whether for some of your clothes, everyday objects or of course your Arion saddle, leather is a living material that needs to be maintained. This will prevent it from fading faster than expected. But before the care of the leather itself, you will have to do a meticulous cleaning of the leather piece. We will discuss viable products and preferred types of rags for this step. Afterwards, we will have the opportunity to see together how to care for all types of leather, including nubucks and suede, as well as used leather that may require special treatment.

Summary :
  1. How to clean your leather?
  2. How is the leather cared for after cleaning?
  3. Is the care of used leather different?

How to clean your leather?

Contrary to what many people think, cleaning is an integral part of leather care ! It is even indispensable to avoid stains penetrating the leather itself during its maintenance.

Use non-aggressive products

Whatever the type of leather or even the object in question, cleaning with clear water is sufficient in the vast majority of cases !

For this, use demineralized water to limit the incrustation of minerals in the object when it dries. If your saddle or shoes are simply dusty, then cleaning with water will be the best possible solution.

Sometimes our leather object may be slightly dirtier, have a bit of mud on it or stains from various sources. In this case, the use of Marseille soap, Aleppo soap or even baby make-up remover milk is necessary.

Avoid using, in any case, corrosive or too aggressive products for leather because it is a living material that is fragile against many chemicals on the market!

Rub gently with a cotton object

When you have the most suitable cleaning product for the degree of soiling of your leather object, then simply use a cotton cloth or even cotton fibers. This natural material is one of the products of leather care which will help you not to scratch or bump it.

Soft to the touch, cotton should be soaked in Marseille soap, Aleppo soap or cleansing milk. Then take it in one hand and rub in a circular manner an area of the object that is difficult to see. This allows to make a test to check that the leather is not attacked by one of these soaps. This can happen even if it is rare.

When you have checked that everything is fine, then you can clean the whole object by taking care to make circular movements. This reduces friction on the object in question.

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How does the leather care for itself after cleaning?

After cleaning, rinsing with clear water and drying the object in question, it is now time to move on to the next step of leather care.

Maintenance of traditional leathers

There is no such thing as a miracle product to maintain a leather article. There is in fact a whole range of products for every type of leather in the world. For the vast majority of them, a weekly maintenance is necessary to keep it looking new, in good condition and able to resist over a long period of time.

With a soft and above all clean cloth (made of cotton if possible), you will come to apply skin cream, such as the famous Nivea cream! Very good for our skin, it is also very good for the maintenance of leather in everyday life.

Don’t forget that leather is, in the beginning, tanned animal skin. This cream will nourish the leather, prevent it from drying and protect it from temperature and humidity variations. It also gives it a certain impermeability without using a waterproofing product.

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Care of special leather: suede and nubuck

The care of nubuck or suede leather is different because the characteristics of these tanned hides vary significantly from other more traditional types of leather.

Nubuck is thus a sanded material that requires specific interest. There are maintenance kits for suede and nubuck, with a scraper as a tool to remove dust or mud that gets stuck on the leather.

You will also need to do a meticulous scrubbing before applying a maintenance spray and a long term waterproofing agent.

Is the care of used leather different?

Because of its age or its fragility due to long use, the worn leather object must be cared for in a different way.

White clay stone for effective cleaning

White clay stone is a very well known method used by tanners and other leather craftsmen who seek to clean antique leather thoroughly.

Available in powder form in all DIY stores, this famous white clay can remove all stains, even ink or diesel! To do this, soak a cloth with water and then gently dip it into the white clay. This will serve as an exfoliation and cleaning at the same time.

Note that it is better not to use white clay for the maintenance of the leather new and even less varnished as it may deteriorate or scratch it.

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Caring for worn or old leather

One product proves to be truly effective for the maintenance of used leather: glycerin or glycerin-based soap.

The interest of this product is its triple action: it will clean the surface of the leather, then it will come to nourish it on all its thickness and finally, it will soften it, in order to limit the ageing of the material. To use it, you just have to lightly soak a soft damp sponge and to come and rub in a circular way directly on the worn leather.

When done, do not rinse! Let it dry for a few hours and then wipe a soft cotton cloth over the top to lightly shine the outside of the leather.

3 questions to summarize leather care

What products should I use to clean leather?

Marseille soap, Aleppo soap or even baby make-up remover milk are three useful products to effectively clean leather.

What is the white clay stone used for?

The white clay stone can be indispensable to clean a worn leather without damaging it.

How to care for nubuck leather?

Specific maintenance kits are required to care for nubuck leather or even suede.

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