Cleaning Dirt & Grime
Spill some food on your bag? Graze it against a dirty car? No problem! Most surface dirt and grime can be removed by wiping down your bag with a damp, soft cloth--paper towels tend to be too abrasive. Use some pressure if necessary, but excessive force or a rough cloth can scuff the leather.
If the stubborn stain still won't come out, up the ante and add a watered down, mild detergent or soap. Be sure to steer clear of harsh chemicals as they can breakdown or dry out the leather fibers.
When in doubt, err on the side of caution and take your bag to a dry cleaner who specializes in leather. If you are unsure of what to do, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are more than happy to help!
Conditioning and Protecting Leather
Leather can dry out over time and should be conditioned regularly to keep it looking new. The ideal conditioners not only feed the leather to prevent it from drying out, but also help prevent scuffs and abrasions.
A word of caution: most leather conditioners initially darken the leather, but will eventually return to the original color over time. That being said, there are a number of products that can be used. They break down into 3 main categories: synthetic, wax-based, and oil-based.
The key to a good conditioner is a product that protects the leather while still allowing it to breathe. Synthetic products usually contain things like urethane or silicone, which cover the leather in an impenetrable barrier. While they are great at protecting the surface from scuffs, they ultimately end up drying the leather out from the inside, reducing its lifespan.
To condition and protect your bag (or any other leather good for that matter), we recommend that you use a beeswax-based product like Sno-Seal or Obenaufs LP. In addition to smelling great, over time the wax protects the outer layer of the leather and releases emulsified oils over time, which keeps it from drying out for longer periods than other products.
You can also use products that are animal oil-based like neatsfoot oil, milk oil, or lanolin. These products all work well at nourishing leather, but do not protect and usually need to be applied more frequently. Some leather craftsmen also swear by things like extra virgin olive oil and even butter, but we can't say we have any experience using them.
Regardless of which product you choose, always test it out on a small, inconspicuous part of the bag--like the bottom--so you can see what effect it will have on the leather.