The exact process will depend upon what type of leather you have. You need to determine the type of leather you have, before you begin the leather cleaning and conditioning. If you do not know which type of leather you have, you are in a bit of spot. Each leather type requires a different method for cleaning. Guessing is not an option in this case because you could ruin your treasured investments. Let’s learn how to identify types of leather you may own.
1) Main types of Leather - Determine the type of leather you have
- Aniline Leather – This is the most natural form of leather. Nothing is done to this material; basically what you see is what you get. It has not been sanded, buffed or snuffed, which means it displays the more natural characteristics of leather. This is the most fragile type, yet it is also the most beautiful as its natural colour and texture are able to be enjoyed and the leather develops a wonderful patina over time.
- Semi-aniline Leather – This type of leather is one step away from aniline as it is mildly treated before being made into a product, like leather furniture. It receives a light coating on its surface. This coating might alter the colour of the leather some what but not much.
- Pigmented Leather – This is the most treated and the most durable type of leather as it is treated with a strong coating that also contains it’s pigment and protects it.
- Suede – Is leather that has been given a soft, napped finish ( this leather is very absorbent and harder to clean then other leathers).
2) Leather Cleaning - Test any cleaning product you'll using on a small patchA good leather cleaning agent will remove the grease, dust grime and some of the previous layer of polish. There are several natural soap solutions that will softly clean leather, including saddle soap. However there are also several commercial cleaning products available that will do a thorough job. It is important to read labels carefully to see what style of leather the product is best suited to. It also is good practice to test the product on a spot that is not usually visible. That way if the cleaner stains the leather, the appearance of the item will not be affected.
How to Clean LeatherCleaning leather is a relatively straightforward process. The steps are as follows:
- Remove any build-up of dirt from the surface of leather with a soft cloth
- Apply a small portion of cleaner to the cloth
- Use a circular motion to wipe the leather with the cloth
- Use a dry cloth to wipe away any excess cleaning solution
3) Leather Conditioning - Use a recommended product
Leather will dry and crack over time without care. Conditioners help to moisturise the leather and keep it soft.
There are a number of homemade leather conditioners including a simple glycerine and water solution as well as a combination of beeswax, cocoa butter and sweet almond oil.
Some other options include leather honey and mink oil.
As a general guide we recommend you condition your leather goods at least twice a year to maintain leather health and longevity. Finally don’t forget to test on an inconspicuous spot.
How to Condition LeatherDepending on what solution you use to condition leather, the technique you use may differ slightly. If the conditioner is a solution, simply apply a small dab of the solution to a dry cloth and wipe the cloth in a circular motion against the leather surface. If the conditioner is more wax based, then you may be able to use your fingers to work the conditioner into the leather. Regular cleaning and conditioning leather will help to prolong its life and prevent it from cracking and flaking.
Leather work tips
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