When buying leather, the best
thing you can do is ask the people who you buy it from,
what the manufacturer recommends for leather care and
cleaning. Don't forget to ask what other products may
work well for leather care too, as there may be something
you're more comfortable using. Also ask what the product
does to and for the leather.
While still alive, leather on
the animal, fish, or fowl is maintained in situ. (It's
their skin) The oils that keep leather conditioned and
help remove dirt and grime from the skin of the animal
are produced naturally by their body.
Once leather is processed, these
“living” components cease to exist although they
do retain many of their physical characteristics such
as leather’s porous nature and chemical reactivity.
Leather is naturally acidic so anything alkaline is
bad. For proper leather care, you want to mimic some
of these natural processes. If you sift through all
of the mythology, home recipes, and good ol' folk lore
about leather care, you are left with the two basic
tasks that all those natural processes accomplished:
cleaning and conditioning.
Any leather care enthusiast will
tell you that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound
of cure, and if you want to protect your investment
keep it in top form. Leather care is relatively easy
but you need to be consistent. Leather can be restored,
but regular maintenance is highly recommended. If cared
for properly, your leather will last and stay in good
shape for years.
You want to know the type of
leather you have, as well as the way it was processed
during tanning. For example, were any anti-mold finishes
applied or was a sealant used, and how was it colored,
if it was. Keep in mind that aniline, suede, and nubuck
are not as robust as pigmented leather because they
do not usually have a protective surface coating.
Pigmented leather is the most
durable, full grain pigmented leather has intact grain,
and corrected grain pigmented leather refers to whether
or not the leather has been sanded to remove imperfections.
This top-grain or full-top grain
leather is not pigmented, just dyed whereas semi-aniline
treatments combine pigment with dye, usually to even
out the grain because the leather has some imperfections.
The result is that the leather has a more consistent
color and some stain resistance qualities.
If you lightly scratch the surface
of aniline, it will turn a lighter color. Some nubuck
leather will do the same thing. To correct the problem,
wet your finger lightly and rub it into the leather.
It should darken slightly, but dry the same color.
Antiqued / Marbled / Two-Tone
A second pigment may be rubbed
over the original pigment to give the leather an aged
or antique appearance.
This is aniline leather that
has been brushed to give it the texture of velvet. In
fact, nubuck is often mistaken for suede. Nubuck is
stronger because it is brushed on the grain side, which
is the side where the animal’s hair was, where suede
is made from the flesh side. If you apply the wet finger
test to nubuck, it will darken slightly and dry darker
so be sure if you do this that it is done in an inconspicuous
Pull-up, also referred to as
waxy or oil pull-up is leather that lightens in color
when stretched during wearing, creating a broken-in
Suede leather is made from the
fleshy side of hide. For leather care of suede, it is
important you make sure any product you use won't damage
it. Find out as much as you can about the active ingredients
in the products you buy and the action involved. You
might want to bring your jacket with you or a swatch
if you can, and ask what would work best for it.
If you schedule leather care
and cleaning you won't end up with a jacket that looks
like someones cast off. I suggest scheduling a cleaning
at least once a year or so. (Mark it in your daytimer)
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