This article is a guest post by Randall Hanauer. He runs family-owned R. Hanauer Bow Ties, founded by his father.
Caring for your leather products
Some time ago we spoke about the various reasons why we shine our shoes. The very first reason listed in that article was practicality: leather is a skin that needs to be "nourished" in order for it to stay healthy. Neglecting this important aspect of leather can cause your product to dry out, crack, or break down prematurely. In this article we will discuss key points to keep in mind while taking care of your leather products.
Begin with the end in mind
You may want different looks for different leather goods. Perhaps you want a wallet to look weathered and worn, but you want a leather jacket to maintain a glossy and clean look. Perhaps you have a satchel that you feel gets more character with each scratch, or pair of shoes that you have been painstakingly antiquing to create a patina that's uniquely yours. The end product you want is going to determine the care process.
The bare minimum
Some might confess to being bad with routines, and if you are one of those, we are going to suggest going over your leather goods at least once a week with a damp cloth. This will address the dirt and dust which are the biggest contributors to wear and tear and requires minimal effort on your part.
Lanolin is something that sheep naturally secrete, and it's found in baby wipes, cosmetics, moisturizers, and leather care products. Lanolin is going to soften leather more than other products will. This might be a great strategy for a jacket or bag (or a baseball glove, for that matter), but perhaps not for a carrying case or wallet that might need a bit more rigidity.
Whatever direction you choose to go with your product, remember that there's no "one time" treatment. If you're applying saddle soap, or leather cream, or waterproofing, it needs to be done on a fairly consistent basis - every three months is a good rule of thumb (though depending on the type of weather you're getting in a given season, the waterproofing may need to be done more often).
Store it right
Remember that leather is a skin and needs to breathe; if leather is sealed up somewhere, air can't pass through it allow moisture to naturally evaporate. Also, leave it out of direct heat and/or sunlight. Even if your item got wet, you don't want it to "sun dry" as this can lead to shrinking/stretching.
Do you have any helpful tips to share that have kept your leather goods looking great? Share them in the comments below.
About Ben Davis
A serial entrepreneur, Ben Davis is founder of The Gents Place and a leading investor in gentlemen's refinement and confidence.
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