Saturday, July 4, 2009

Information for Cleaning Leather & Leather Products

By Ethan O. Tanner

Determine first if your leather item is finished or unfinished. Finished leather items will generally have a shiny or smooth surface which may be luggage, handbags, wallets, or garments. Unfinished leather and suede usually have a natural dull finish or nappy finish like saddlery, work boots and shoes or sport gloves etc.

Purchase good leather cleaner and rub it into leather furniture in even circular motions. Follow with a leather conditioner. Leather Balm with Atom Wax Leather Conditioner is an excellent dressing, which will clean, soften, and condition leather. Do not use saddle soap on a leather couch, as it is too harsh for furniture.

Leather should be kept out of direct sunlight as it will fade or discolor. One tip for removing spots from leather is to dip a soft cloth into rubbing alcohol and rub the spot. Water spots can be removed from leather by moistening the area again with a little water. Let it dry or gently blow dry. Oil leather with a leather preservative such as mink oil

Be sure to wipe leather shoes with a damp cloth regularly, and keep them well polished with a paste. For saturated leather shoes, insert shoe trees and let air-dry. For leather garments, gloves and bags that are discolored use a leather spray designed to restore color.

If you experiment with leather conditioner, first try it on a small corner in the back of the couch, in case your particular brand of leather does not react well to the treatment. Do not use saddle soap on a leather couch, as it is too harsh for furniture. Do not let spills or water to dry; they can penetrate the dye in the leather and leave a spot. Avoid products like mink oil, shoe polish and waxes when cleaning leather furniture or garments. Use a damp cloth or sponge to rub saddle soap into the leather; work soap into a light lather. Oil leather with a leather preservative such as mink oil.

Dry leather needs rehydrating with water and oils. Waxes are not recommended as it will dry out of the leather. It is essential to maintain a regular cleaning system cleaning dirt off the surface regularly. Stopping the absorption of body oils into the leather with a protector is the best way to doing this. Car owners manual suggest using a 5% solution of detergent made for wool on car leather seats. This cleans and protects leather of all kinds.

Another choice for cleaning leather is to take a damp cloth, wipe it across moisturizing soap and lather the leather. It is important when removing spots from leather to always test any cleaning method on an isolated spot first.

For suede shoes, try an art gum eraser first and if that doesn't do the trick, use undiluted white vinegar on a soft cloth, and be sure to blot -- never rub when cleaning suede. Suede is an unfinished type of leather that needs to be handled carefully. Some people recommend inexpensive leather cleaning processes, like baking soda or salt.

The best technique for cleaning leather is determined by the type of the stain and the kind of the leather. Always test the cleaning on a small invisible patch of leather before proceeding on the whole item. You should also follow cleaning with Fiebing Suede and Fabric Coat leather protector which will act like a defender against soils and hold back dirt and stains from being absorbed. This will make cleaning the leather easier the next time.

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