How to Care for Leather


How to care for leather and clean it

Leather can last a long lifetime if cared for properly. Although some people may like an old aged looking piece of leather, it is still good to know how to properly take care of leather. This is why we are going over how to care for your leather to get the most life out of your items.

We will touch on basic things to avoid for your leather as well how to properly clean.

How to care for leather

Before you start applying conditioners everyday to preserve your leather let’s go over some basics to cleaning the leather. This will help you avoid mistreating leather with soaps that will stain.

Cleaning Leather

Your leather will need to be cleaned every so often depending on how often you use your item. To properly take care of your leather you will need to do some cleaning to avoid a gross look.

There are many different types of leather cleaners and really you can’t go wrong with most of them. Avoid any household cleaners though as these will not be as delinquent on leather. You will want to clean your item a few times a year or more depending on how often it is used.

Dirt and oils from your own hands can build up on your leather so you want to avoid neglect. As these can easily start to stain the leather item from seeping into the surface.

Dirt can also cause unwanted marks on your leather as it can scratch the surface as it hardens.

Dirty Leather

To start you want to get a clean cloth rag and apply a small amount of leather cleaner on your rag. Rub this into the leather surface applying light pressure.

These cleaners will draw much of the dirt and oil off of you leather item leaving it looking very fresh. As you clean over your leather take note of any areas that feel a little extra dry. This is common if conditioner or preservers are not applied to leather often.

Clean Dirty Leather

So if you feel this when cleaning be sure to go back and apply a conditioner onto the dried out area. Above we have linked a conditioner and cleaner together for a great price.

If you clean your leather once every month or two you can most likely skip the conditioner unless you find a dry spot. But if not you will want to apply a conditioner to your leather right after cleaning.

If your leather still feels smooth with no dry spots you can get away with applying a conditioner once or twice a year.

These will just help rehydrate the leather to avoid having it start to crack on you. Using a conditioner is the best way to care for leather as it helps preserve and freshen up the leather.

Saddle soap is a great way to preserve your leather while also giving it a nice shine. You will apply saddle soap and rub into the leather thoroughly.

Cleaned Leather

After it has been rubbed in and any excess has been taking off, rub a clean cloth into the leather to buff it. This will secure the saddle soap to the leather and will bring back some shine to your leather.

Fiebing's Saddle Soap

Only apply after the leather has been cleaned off before. Since the saddle soap can pick up the dirt and soak it into the leather you will want to make sure it is cleaned beforehand. Once applied you should notice your leather much more clean than it was previously.

If your item has completely lost color check out our guide to restoring faded leather.

If you plan to not use your item, you will want to store your item in a dark closet. One that is well ventilated and little access to sunlight. A lot of times if you have a very small closet you can get moisture reducers to place into your closet. This will help if you live in a very humid area where your item can easily absorb moisture. `

Things to avoid

Before applying cleaner and conditioner on a daily basis know what to avoid. Avoiding specific things is the first step in learning how to care for leather.

Avoid Water

Leather can be stained with water and can make the leather have blotchy stain marks. If you can, avoid allowing your leather to get wet. This alone will allow your leather to avoid having any stain marks, making the leather look much better from the start.

It is good to know that the darker the leather, the less likely that the stain will be noticeable at all.

If the leather gets wet you will want to press onto the water instead of rubbing the water. Rubbing in the water will cause a bigger stain than you already have.

water on leather

You will also want to allow the leather to air dry instead of apply heat to the item. Using a heater, fireplace, or hair dryer can worsen leather as it will greatly start to dry out the leather.

Avoid Sharp Objects

This may sound pretty simple but hitting the edge of a table or dropping your item on gravel will damage leather.

Since leather has a hardened top coat it can crack or rip when pressure is placed onto the item. If it is properly conditioned it is unlikely that it will crack (unless you take a knife to it) but it will still create a pressure mark into you leather.

These marks can change the color of the leather in that specific area. This can actually end up looking cool if you like aged leather.

Avoid the sun

This doesn’t mean you cannot go outside in your leather jacket while the sun is out, but UV damage is real. Leather will bake up in the sun causing the leather to dry out and lighten up in color.

Doing daily tasks with your leather items won’t really hurt the leather. But if you accidently leave your item outside all day on hot day, you better make sure you have some sort of conditioner handy.

Also if you use your item out in the sun very often this may help being aware of to know how often you should apply a conditioner to it.

Avoid removing it from air

When placing a leather jacket into a closet avoid placing it into a plastic bag. The plastic will secure the leather and make it much harder to breathe. And yes, leather needs to breathe like your skin to stay healthy. Taking air away from your leather will cause it to dry out and become much easier to rot and grow mildew.

If you ever bought any leather item online you may notice it is wrapped in plastic which is fine if it only secured for a couple days. But leaving an item wrapped for weeks and months will definitely change the structure of your leather.

Hopefully these quick tips have given you an idea on how to take care of leather items. It is pretty universal no matter the item you choice to clean/care for.


My name is John and the owner of Maze Leather. I've been working with leather for a couple years now and dedicated this space for making content to help others get into leather crafting. Regardless of skill, hopefully you can find some type of resource through this site. Thank you for visiting Maze Leather!

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