Leather is probably not the first material people think about when they plan a hike or a trip to the beach. However, outdoor gear often consists of leather accessories like shoes, hats, and belts. Since the material does not have the moisture wicking qualities of other types of outdoor clothing, you need to know how to properly care for leather in order to keep it in good shape.
Here are a few ways to care for your leather, even if it spends time outdoors.
Protect the Product
Leather should always have a water-resistant finish before it makes its way to the great outdoors. A commercial waterproofing cream, liquid, or spray is not always necessary on new leather products because many manufacturers take this step on their own. As the leather ages and this protective coat wears, you may need to coat the item again.
If water soaks into leather rather than forming beads on the surface, the item needs waterproofing. Waterproofing may darken leather, so test the protectant on a less prominent spot first. Even though people call it waterproofing, treated leather only becomes more resistant to water. Do not completely submerge any leather accessory in water or allow the items to remain wet for a long time.
Keep It Clean
Regularly clean any leather item that experiences frequent use. Water, dust, and dirt affect the appearance of the product, but they are not the only contaminants that affect leather. Leather also absorbs some of the sweat and natural oils from human skin and can develop stains from these over time. Any product sprayed on the body like cologne or insect repellant could contain alcohol that will damage leather.
Spot clean carefully with a soft cloth dipped in a water and detergent solution. Use gentle, perfume-free detergents. Use another damp cloth dipped in only water to wipe away any soap residue. Dry thoroughly before storage.
Clean any oily or greasy leather stains by absorbing as much of the oil as possible. Dust the stained area with cornstarch and allow it to sit for several hours before brushing it off. Repeat as needed. Remember to condition the leather if a large area needed treatment because the cornstarch may make the leather too dry.
Make It Shine
Beeswax protects leather because it conditions the material and adds shine. The use of beeswax prevents cracks and stiffness in leather.
Rub the beeswax into clean, dry leather with a soft cloth and wipe away most, but not all the remaining coating. This thin coat of wax will protect the material as it absorbs into the leather over time.
Dry It Carefully
Wipe down wet leather as soon as possible. Place items in their natural shape on absorbent cloth or newspaper. For example, place a cloth over a hat form and put the hat on top, lay a belt flat, and fill wet shoes with newspaper. Do not blow dry or place wet leather in the sun, as the items could crack.
Apply a leather conditioner once the item has dried completely.
Add Some Age
Not everyone wants their leather to look immaculate. The signs of wear add a hint of ruggedness to the material. Older leather sometimes becomes softer and more pliable and that makes it easier to form to the shape of the wearer. Distressing allows people to give their accessories character.
People distress their leather in many ways, but it is possible to go too far. Practice with thrift-shop finds or something unwanted first. Rubbing alcohol sprayed onto the material or a dusting of a powdered scouring powder fades the color. Abrasives like a pumice stone or a wire brush add scuffs and scratches. Condition the leather when the material achieves the desired look.
Leather accessories add appeal to any outfit, whether it has a shiny polish or looks like it has seen years of adventure. At Over Under Clothing, we offer high-quality leather belts and our distinctive Outback Bison Hat, so you can get the look you want. Visit our website for these items and to find all the other clothing and accessories you need.