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Leather Care

There are various types and grades of leathers, each
serving a different purpose. Some require a bit more
maintenance than others, but all follow a set
guideline of care to ensure a longer life.

There are four stages in leather care that include
cleaning, conditioning, polishing, and protection.
When perusing the store shelves for a product that
fits your needs, be watchful for what kind of product
you're purchasing. It can be confusing to try and
figure out which product is for which stage, but look
for words that explain how the product is to be used.
It is also important to remember to work on your
leather in a well-ventilated area. Some leather care
products are very strong and can cause irritations.

To clean a leather item, first choose a cleaner that
will help preserve the natural lubricating oils
instead of stripping them. For example, saddle soap is
a commonly used product for equestrian tack. It is
meant to be used as a cleaner and a protector from
moisture, but it strips the leather of the oils in the
process of attempting to do two jobs at once. The
cleaner of your choice should not leave any greasy
residue behind. Residue makes leather susceptible to
bacteria and can break down the stitching of your
item. Before applying anything to your leather item,
be certain to test it out for effect and possible
color distortion on an area that isn't visible to the
eye. Once you've ascertained whether the leather care
product is acceptable to use, apply it to your item.
With a slightly dampened cloth, remove the cleaning
product. For areas with stitches, there are brushes
available on the market. Another cleaning product to
consider having in your leather care collection is a
nubuck cleaning cloth. They have an astonishing
ability to clean and restore leather to its original look.

Leather conditioners are meant for occasional use.
They contain fats and/or oils that help lubricate
leather and replenish the suppleness. Look for a
product that will penetrate the strong fibers in
leather, but beware of any that include petroleum or
mineral oils. While petroleum by-products won't damage
your leather immediately, they do over a period of
time. Again, just as with cleaning, keep on the look
out for thick, greasy conditioning treatments for the
best care of your leather.

Polishing is done for special occasions when you want
a more glossy finish on your leather. There are a
couple things to be wary of when purchasing a
polishing agent. Some products contain coloring
factors that will brush off on things you come in
contact with. Some products also have a tendency to
clog the pores in leather or dry leather out. Just as
with cleaning, be sure to test out the product on a
small area and when ready, buff to a shine.

Moisture barriers are extremely crucial in preventing
rain or other liquid hazards from damaging leather.
Stiffness and spouting will happen if leather isn't
protected beforehand. There is a drawback in
protecting leather with a moisture barrier product.
They tend to fill in the pores with a greasiness that
makes cleaning, conditioning, and polishing difficult,
but it's a necessary process to ensure leather isn't
destroyed. Periodically apply a moisture barrier and
allow it time to penetrate and dry before using your
leather item.

Removing Mildew
To remove mildew from leather, create a mixture of
one-cup rubbing alcohol per one-cup of water. Wipe the
mildew area with a cloth dipped in the diluted
alcohol, then allow it to dry. If the mildew persists,
use mild soap and water that contains a germicide,
then remove with a clean dampened cloth and allow to dry.

Wet Leather
An important key to keeping leather in top-notch
condition is to treat wet leather before it has a
chance to dry. Remove any dirt, mud, or other stains
with a cleaning agent, then condition while the pores
are still fully responsive. It is critical to remember
that leather should be dried away from heat. If the
leather in question is a garment, it's a good idea to
stuff the garment to retain shape.

Storing Leather
Remember that leather is a natural material and should
never be stored in plastic because it encourages the
growth of mildew and bacteria and will ruin the
leather. Always store leather in a cool, dry place
away from heat. If the leather item is a garment,
store in a breathable bag.

Removing Stains
Fresh stains from things such as blood and food can be
cleaned up quickly with a damp cloth. Stains from oil
or grease can be lifted by grinding ordinary
blackboard chalk, sprinkling the area, and leaving the
powder on for a twenty-four hour period. Resist the
urge to rub the powder in. After a sufficient time has
past, simply use a leather care brush to remove the
powder. While fresh stains can be treated and cleaned
at home, ground-in stains should be attended to by a
professional cleaner who deals in leather.


Thickness: As most leather today is sold in "ounce"
thickness, the approximate equivalent in inch
fractions or millimeters can be compared below. As the
hide can still vary in thickness from one part of the
hide to another, the gauge is usually defined in
ranges, for example 3 - 4 ounces, means the skin will
be between 3 and 4 ounces throughout the hide.

Leather Thickness Conversion Chart
Ounce MM Iron % Inch Decimal Inch
1 0.4 0.75 1/64 0.016
2 0.8 1.5 1/32 0.031
3 1.2 2.25 3/64 0.047
4 1.6 3 1/16 0.063
5 2 3.75 5/64 0.078
6 2.4 4.5 3/32 0.094
7 2.8 5.25 7/63 0.109
8 3.2 6 1/8 0.125
9 3.6 6.75 9/64 0.141
10 4 7.5 5/32 0.156
11 4.4 8.25 11/64 0.172
12 4.8 9 3/16 0.188


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Last modified: July 2016