With our “throw away and everything instant” society, many of us may have lost the basic knowledge about leather care and allowing misinformation to take hold. But, what are the truths and myths? There're many DIY solutions published on the Internet, but does it actually work?
1. Using olive oil or peanut butter as a cure-all for leather woes
Let’s start with olive oil. They are classified as fatty acid, a chemical compound that has anti-oxidative properties, and polyunsaturated hydrocarbon liquid respectively.
Leather is extremely permeable and tends to soak up any oil that’s put on it. While olive oil can make leather a little supple after application, we can’t be sure if it'll nourish your leather in long-term. Also, depending on the amount that you apply, if the oil ends up spreading throughout the leather it will start to resurface as unsightly oil spots. So be careful when using olive oil.
As for peanut butter, we'd like to think that’s the spread we use on our toasts not leather bags, shoes because we aren't sure if we like our leather goods to smell like food. But, as a general rule of thumb, we suggest that you avoid using food products on leather as it may eventually lead to bacteria and mold build up.
2. Brushing the leather regularly will make it look better.
In the past, leather are usually brushed to evenly distribute the spew over the hide, wiped down as often as used, and cleaned with a slightly dampened cloth to remove mud and dust. This cam prevent age hardening, meaning the hardening and stiffening of leather to increase its yield strength.
The leather that you and I found on our leather belongings today may be made of different type of skins and hides and without knowing its type and characteristics, we don't recommend brushing it until so. How about brushing that pair of leather kicks? Oh yes, we do. But again, shoe brushing is a rather tricky thing as you have to consider the amount of wax used on the shoe, your brush stroke, and the shoe polish that you use. Not to forget the equipment, ie, the shoe brush used. Remember to use one that is made of horse hair, not boars or goats.
3. An all-purpose product is all you need to clean and condition leather.
While an all-purpose product is convenient for quick cleaning and conditioning, we wouldn’t suggest that to be used for your delicate leather bags, belts or even your beautiful dress kicks, because one can’t be sure if the all-purpose product would contain a higher pH level that can be damaging to genuine leather. Plus, not all leather is created the same.
Another all purpose product that’s commonly used to clean leather is the baby wipes. They are commonly used for cleaning things non-baby related, including leather. These, too, are often highly alkaline. We suggest to keep baby wipe usage to its intended purpose and refrain from using it to wipe down delicate leather.
4. Saddle soap is a good leather cleaner and conditioner.
Saddle soap products have been much talked about and are usually economical and very commonly used, but some suggest that they aren’t necessarily the best option to keep fine leather saddle and tack in top-notch condition.
Soaps are usually high in its alkaline level, which can damage the leather or darken it. Soap also removes leather’s tanning agents, which can lead to hardening and cracking. So, try to use a cleaner and conditioner that have a slightly pH-balance level. But if you do choose or continue to use saddle soap, always follow up with a good and deep conditioning for your leather to ensure sufficient nourishment.
Good Rule of Thumb
The easiest way to remember what you can and can’t use on your leather is to avoid having alcohol and acetone on your leather. Stay away from products that contain these substances. The best substances to use on leather are those that are made specifically for that purpose.