Friday, June 27, 2014

Christopher’s Leather Care Tips

I get asked from time to time about the best way to care for leather gear. Here are a few things I've picked up over the years: 

Leather items can last for decades if properly cared for. Age and use can bring out leather’s natural patina, making it more beautiful. It should fit you better too, as it will stretch to conform to your shape over time. 

Dry dust with a soft cloth or vacuum in crevices inside and out before cleaning or conditioning. 

No, I don't actually have my own branded suede brush!

The inside of your unlined leather item (with suede-like nap) can be brushed and cleaned with a brass-bristle suede brush. Follow up with a vacuum to suck up the little bits of nap that may brush off. 

Lexol Leather Cleaner: the orange bottle.

Use Lexol PH Leather Cleaner to spot clean if necessary before conditioning.

Lexol Leather Conditioner: the brown one.

Use a conditioner like Lexol Leather Conditioner every 6-12 months. Be sure to test it first on a hidden area first to make sure it doesn’t discolor the leather. I like to apply with a soft cloth, then buff with a clean soft cloth and finish with a horse hair brush. 

Horsehair brushes are great for the final buffed finish.

Don’t over condition! You don’t want to clog the pores of the leather, or make it sticky, which can happen if you apply too much or too frequently. 

Note that a conditioner may darken the appearance of the leather. You may want to test a small inconspicuous area first. 

Protect your leather from direct sunlight, which can dry it out and make it fade over time. 

Wipe up spills immediately as they occur with a clean soft cloth.

If necessary, use a lightly moistened soft cloth with lukewarm water to clean a spill. 

Let any damp leather air dry naturally before putting it away. Don’t put it near a heater to speed up drying, as it may result in hardening the leather. 

Do not use soap or heavily soak the leather with water. This may cause more damage than the stain itself.  

Avoid cleaning supplies or soaps, detergents, solvents or bleach. Don’t use furniture polish, oils, varnish, abrasive cleaners or ammonia water. 

Butter and leather don't go together!

Be careful with butter, oil or grease, which can stain leather. Wipe off with a clean cloth, and leave alone. The spot should dissipate after a short period of time. 

Use a chamois to buff out minor surface scratches. 

Store in a cool, dry well-ventilated place, never in a plastic bag! Leather needs to breathe, and can grow mold if kept in a plastic bag. 

A dust-bag can help keep your gear clean, but make sure it’s breathable, natural fiber. 

Avoid strong perfumes or cologne when wearing your leather, as it is porous and will absorb smells quite easily.

Follow these tips, and your leather should give you many years of enjoyment. 


  1. I tried coconut oil recently (because my wife uses it instead of lotion) and it gave my veg-tan leather a medium brown color that looked very institutional, so I covered a posture collar (from your pattern) with it and sewed a white edging on. I am happy with the way it turned out and though you might be interested it.

    1. So you don't have to worry about the coconut oil going rancid? Just curious, as I've never used it. I use a saddle oil from fiebing for a darkening finish on veg-tan leather. It has "blended silicone-lanolin" on the label. Would love to see how the posture collar turned out.

    2. I can send you a picture. Its been about 6 months and there are no odors or mold. The oil softens the leather and I was worried about it becoming too flexible but its very strong vertically still and quite flexible horizontally.

    3. That sounds like its working just fine!

  2. What is your email address? For the pictures.

    1. You can reach me here: