Leather Care- A How-To Guide from a Craftsman Perspective
Here at Orox, we get all kinds of questions about our products. There's a lot to learn when you're thinking about making a new leather purchase! But one of the questions we get the most is 'How do I take care of it?' So, we wanted to share our expert tips, tricks and thoughts about leather care with you.
Before we start, we need to lay this out on the table: there is no magic bullet, no one answer, no trick that encompasses all leather care. Different leathers have different needs, as do different products. (Which makes sense, right? Would you treat tough work boots the same as a stylish hand-stitched wallet?) That being said, there are some general steps you can take to help that treasured leather item last longer.
Prevention: How to Generally Care for your Leather
We know the age-old wisdoms about an ounce of prevention. There's a reason for that- because it works! The advice we normally give our customers is this: if you take good care of our leather, you won't have to do much to keep it looking great. This means avoiding exposing it directly to extreme elements, like going from a very wet and cold environment to one that is super dry and hot. Don't leave it out in bright sunlight for prolonged periods of time. And minimizing rough handling in general- throwing a purse or bag on the ground, for example. If this all sounds really simple and common sense, well, that's because it is! And because we know that there are times when your leather products will, in fact, be exposed to harsh environments, there are methods of maintaining leather goods that will help them to last through adversity. Read on...
Maintenance: Simple Ways to Keep it Looking Great
Part of the amazing thing about leather as a material is that it is fairly dynamic. With lots of use, it develops a lovely shine and smoothness called patina. And your item will develop a character all its own- crease lines and wrinkles specific to the way you use it. These marks are all the charm and personality of leather- it tells a story of who used it and for how long. But scratches and scuffs don't have to ruin your day. Often, the oils in your hands and the friction of rubbing is enough to buff out fresh marks. Just rub over the surface with clean fingers, gently pushing and stretching the area behind and around it. Honestly, simply using leather is a great form of maintenance- the stretching, shaping, and movement that accompanies your warm skin helps prevent leather becoming brittle, cracking, and molding. Your leather wants to breathe- so don't suffocate it in storage or airtight containers for long periods of time. And then, after all of that, then yes, every few years you can apply a healthy treatment.
Restoration/ Treatment: How to Fix it When Things Go Wrong
Of course, sometimes we make mistakes or accidents happen. Don't panic! There are often some ways to mitigate damage. Did you spill something or scrape it? First, use a warm, damp, and soft rag to wipe it gently clean. Let it dry completely (but don't leave it in direct sunlight, use a heater, or apply anything hot to the leather). There are many types of leather treatments out there. We like Obenaufs- it's got natural oils rather than synthetic chemicals. Avoid mink oils (too acidic) and cheap petroleum products. Always do a spot treatment in a small, inconspicuous spot to test your product. Rub a small amount in circles over the affected area. Don't saturate it- you want just enough to feel moist and supple. Let it dry.
Did you leave it out in the elements too long? Cracks and warping happening? Your process is going to look pretty much the same as above, but just on a larger scale. Be patient, take your time. Your leather needs to rehydrate and regain its softness- so gentle massages, warm hands, and not overdoing it on the oil/protectant will do wonders.If you use your product daily or very frequently, it's a good idea to rub in a leather protectant every one to two years, which keeps the material pliable, hydrated, and looking it's best.
Leather is an amazing material that has been used for thousands of years all over the world. It's versatile and beautiful and durable. Following some simple steps for care will keep that favorite purse, belt, or wallet in great shape so that you can pass it on for multiple lifetimes of use!
The Final Word: A Consideration when Purchasing Leather
There is one last, general tip that will help you have long-lasting leather products- and that is: choose quality. Here at Orox Leather Co, we intentionally choose to use leathers from tanneries that make the absolute best. We take these great materials, and use time-tested techniques to build a reliable, durable product. And we know how, because we've been making leather goods for four generations. Come on in to our workshop to see where it's all made, ask some questions, and you can touch the high quality leather to feel it for yourself.