- Personal Recommendations:
- We recommend the following steps and products in caring for your leather goods. As for my expertise
in this matter I have used leather holsters, boots, and horse gear in all kinds of weather from the rainy Pacific
Northwest, where I once worked as a logger, to the high, very dry desert of country of the Southwest, where we
now live, as well as the humid South where I was born. Just remember: leather is a unique, natural product and
unlike most things its appearance can actually improve with age. Leather is also one of the most durable and long
lasting investments money can buy. Proper care will help protect that investment.
|Wild Rose Trading Company disclaims any responsiblity for damage
to your leather goods when using these recommendations and/or products since we have no control over their proper
or improper application
*** Animal Oils as Leather Conditioners ***
A SUMMARY OF INFORMATION
PROVIDED BY INDEPENDENT LEATHER EXPERTS
Regarding the rumor that animal oil deteriorates leather: Independent leather experts state that
if leather is properly cared for (periodically cleaned, dried and conditioned) this will not occur. Furthermore,
leather professionals maintain that leather which is neglected or which is conditioned while dirty or soaking wet
will be damaged more by dirt, debris, bacteria, mold mildew, moisture. It is not the animal oil, but poor care
which is the culprit.A conditioner which contains animal oil is not harmful to leather in and of itself. Poor or
negligent leather care is harmful to leather. Ultimately, problems of mold or rancidity are the result of lack
of proper leather care.
Every piece of leather in existence started out as living skin on an animal, stuffed with oil and fat as well as
a large amount of water. Hides begin loaded with grease and fat; they are degreased prior to the tanning process,
after which oils are restored to the hides through "fat liquoring" or "hot-stuffing". Oil must
be added to the hide to restore suppleness. Animal oils have always been used in fat-liquoring and have a tremendous
historical track record. In the past, sperm whale oil was used primarily. Tanneries commonly use such oils as:
animal oil, fish oil, vegetable oil, and some mineral oil. The use of oil in after-market conditioners is absolutely
necessary for lubrication. Beeswax in a product provides a water-repellent barrier.
A personal note to the above: I have a pair of boots that I used continuously for seventeen years and they were
treated with leather conditioners containing both animal oils and beeswax. They have finally worn out, but the
conditioners DID NOT rot the threads or leather as is often maintained by some "experts". A scientific
study done in the 1990's by a master saddle maker proved that pure neat's foot oil (not neat's foot compound) will
not rot leather or thread. Most of the time the rotting factor is water and salt in the form of perspiration or
just plain miscare of your leather. You can over oil your leather though and this is why all professional leather
people recommend LIGHT coats of conditioner (applying more than one if necessary).
- Recommended Leather Care Products (for smooth leather):
- 1) Cleaners: Recommend using Lexol's PH Balanced Leather Cleaner
2) Standard Conditioners: For normal conditions I regularly use Lexol Conditioner or Fiebings Leather Renew. Both
use emulsified oils that don't leave a sticky residue behind. Lexol sometimes leaves a filmy coating after drying
that is usually easily buffed off with a soft cloth. You can also rub on a second light coat and wipe off immediately
to remove the haze. Both products help replace the necessary oils into the leather
3) Heavy use Conditioners: For day in and day out use of your leather in all kinds of weather: Montana
Pitch-Blend Leather Dressing is a product that I have personally used to protect and help
keep dry such important items as my logging boots (wet feet are miserable!). As mentioned above in the animal oil
section there are some folks who claim these type items will damage your leather, but I have used them extensively
and have had no problems with them. But each to his own and there are many other fine products.
4) Polishes:If you want a higher gloss shine use either a clear paste polish found in most stores or try Fiebings
Tan Kote. Apply following the manufacturers directions.
- Use Leather Cleaner and Conditioner
- If you want to protect and prolong the life of your leathers - you must clean and condition
them. Excessive dryness can cause leather to crack and too much moisture can cause it to swell, mildew, and then
stiffen as it dries out. A good leather cleaning system will clean your leather gently. Leather also requires conditioning
to replace the natural lubricants lost during normal use. Just as your own skin dries out when exposed to the elements,
so will your leather. If you donít apply a moisturizer, you're significantly shortening the life of your leather.
A good sonditioner will help stop rain, spills or anything wet from staining your leather. Cleaning followed by
conditioning is the route to keep leather in good condition.
- Some Basic Don'ts
- I don't recommend using silicon products or most aerosol "gunk" sprays, because they
can impair the leatherís ability to "breathe" by clogging the pores. DO NOT
over clean or condition as excess oil and wax attract dirt and dust particles that actually
cut the microscopic fibers that make your leather durable. NEVER use harsh household chemicals to clean leather
and normally avoid leather preparations that contain alcohol, as it will dry leather out. After using saddle soap
donít forget to wash the excess soap solution off with a clean damp cloth. Avoid drenching the leather with water..
- Some Basic Do's
- Clean your smooth leather on a regular basis (how often you clean/condition depends on how much
and under what conditions you use your leather) using a good saddle soap and follow the directions. If the item
is muddy scrape off as much as possible and let it dry; after the remaining mud has dried completely brush it of
using a medium stiff natural bristle brush. If your leather is really dusty also brush it off before using saddle
soap. While the leather is still damp (NOT soaking wet) from cleaning, apply a thin coat of conditioner, the leather's
pores are open and this will help the conditioner to penetrate. Let the item(s) hang in a warm dry place, but NOT
near a heat source or in the sun, and after about an hour wipe off any excess conditioner. Wait 24 hours and apply
another coat of light conditioner. Wait another 24 hours if you are going to apply a heavy, "water proofing"
type conditioner (such as beeswax based). Always follow the manufacturers directions.
- Putting a shine on your Leather
- Polishing is done for special occasions when you want a more glossy finish on your leather.
There are a couple things to be wary of when purchasing a polishing agent. Some products contain coloring factors
that will brush off on things you come in contact with. Some products also have a tendency to clog the pores in
leather or dry leather out. Just as with cleaning, be sure to test out the product on a small area and when ready,
buff to a shine.
- Your New Leather
- Your newly purchased leather has been treated in the above "light treatment" fashion.
If you get stains you don't want (hmmm doesn't that just "improve" the aged look), remove the offending
stain as soon you notice them, the longer they go untreated the better the chance is that theyíll leave a permanent
stain. If you canít remove the mark with a few firm rubs using a leather cleaner, donít keep rubbing as you may
damage the leather. Itís important that you use a quality cleaner and conditioner to remove stains. DON"T
use the types of solvent or cleaner you normally find under the kitchen sink: they could do a lot of damage to
your leather. No matter what technique you use always test it first someplace on the leather that canít be noticed.
A gum eraser will remove a variety of marks from leather. Grease marks can sometimes be removed by rubbing the
spot gently with sawdust moistened with benzene (lighter fluid). Most types of glue can be removed with a ball
of dryed rubber cement. Again, be careful not to rub hard or the surface may be damaged. Ink is the most difficult
stain to remove, because it is much like a dye itself, when attempting to remove the ink you may remove the leathers
original dye. You also want to avoid placing sticky back name tags or badges on your leather. They will almost
always permanently damage the leather. If you are unable to remove a stain on a leather yourself, your best bet
is to send it to a "professional leather cleaner".
- Really Wet Leather
- Ok, so you get caught in a downpour and your leather goods are sopping wet:
- 1) Remove any heavy items from the pockets of leather clothing (of course take your gun out
of your holster).
2) If possible take a dry towel and soak up as much as you can - donít rub - just blot. If a towel isnít handy
shake as much wetness from the leather as possible.
3) To help keep your holsters or boots shape stuff them with paper towels and or un-inked newsprint (you can usually
buy end rolls for pretty cheap from the local newspaper). Change the paper frequently until it quits absorbing
water and then remove it to allow the item to dry from the inside and outside. For boot drying I can also highly
recommend the PEET boot dryer, it just circulates a current of room temperature air into your upturned boots or
4) Let your leather air dry naturally, avoiding direct heat or sunlight.
5) When your leather is nearly dry, apply a little light conditioner. Follow that up with a full conditioning treatment
as listed above when the leather is totally dry.
6) Leather with a nap, such as suede, should be brushed after drying with a soft natural bristle brush or terry
- Leather Garment WrinklesWrinkles
- If your leather garments become wrinkled, place them on a hanger and gently pull the wrinkles
out. Be careful not to overstretch stretch the leather. If this fails, you can try an iron (you're on your own
here-Wild Rose Trading Co. disclaims any responsiblity). First make sure the leather is completely dry. Place a
heavy brown paper bag over the leather. Set the iron on the lowest setting and keep the iron moving constantly
over the paper. DO NOT use steam.
- Professional Cleaning
- Professional cleaning should only be done when absolutely necessary and again only by a leather
specialist. You shouldnít use a regular dry cleaner unless they can prove to you that they know what they are doing
and that they work with leather regularly. Most dry cleaners know a lot more about fabrics than leather. When possible,
let the cleaner know the source of the stain so they know what to do when processing. For instance, antifreeze
can cause your leather to burn when cleaned. Cleaning chemicals may also weaken cement bonds. Because a slight
variation in color or texture may occur, even when done by a qualified professional, always clean matching items
at the same time so that the color tones will continue to match. A small amount of shrinkage may occur, but will
stretch again with wear. Natural marks and wrinkles may also become more apparent after cleaning.
- Leather With A Nap (suede, etc.)
- Every once in a while brush your suede with a SOFT natural bristle brush Any spills or stains
should be treated as fast as possible with dry corn starch - First blot, not rub, up any liquid still on the surface-
then apply a generous amount of corn starch. Let it sit overnight then brush off. To get rid of dried stains that
the corn starch didnít remove, try a gum eraser - Work the spot back and forth in several directions. Be careful
not to work the area so hard that the nap is totally removed.
- Storing Leather
- To avoid drying out, keep your leather out of direct lighting, overexposure to sunlight, or
near a heat source. Leather should always be stored in a well-ventilated, warm, dry area. Excess dryness can cause
your leather to crack and too much moisture can cause mildew. Don't seal your leather in plastic, as you want to
avoid anything that will impair the leather's ability to "breathe." Cover with a light fabric to protect
from dust. Never use wire hangers for storing your leather clothing.