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Cleaning Your Leather Goods

There are a number of leather cleaning products sold. Follow the instructions carefully and test on a small hidden area before applying to the entire product. If in doubt consult a professional for best results. Apply your product using the following steps:

  1. Pick a product -
    Mild soap and water - Many soaps need to be avoided because their are highly alkaline.They will damage the leather by removing the tannins. Dove is a good choice.
    Leather Cleaner - These are pH balanced to avoid damaging the leather, don’t require pre-mixing, and are easy to use. Lexol is one of many commercial cleaners on the market. Both types of product will re-hydrate the leather, helping it to wash away salt and grime as well as open the pores that may have gotten clogged.
  2. Test the product - Apply some product to a test area that is hidden from normal view. Make sure that it is not leaving any greasy residue, which can introduce bacteria or weaken the stitching, or causing spotting, discoloration, or excessive stiffness. If it is discontinue immediately.
  3. Apply the product - Apply the product and then optionally follow up with brushing. If the problem is only salt damage, typically caused by wearing shoes in the snow after roads have been salted, just use a damp cloth to wipe it off. Several applications may be required, and then finish off with a light bushing. This should be done as soon as possible because salt, left untreated, will dry out the leather. Skip other cleaning products until all visible traces of salt are removed.
  4. Let your leather dry - Drying should be done slowly and naturally. To hasten the process, stuff newspaper in your bag or shoes, to help draw out the moisture. Do not ever use a heat source, such as a fireplace or heater to speed the process, which can dry out the leather and make it stiff and brittle.
  5. Reapply if necessary - Apply an additional treatment if you did not get the results you desired.