Tips on Leather Care

Every now and then I like to revisit information on leather care.  The last blog article I wrote on leather care was back in 2010.  Mud, road grit and damp leather put away without being given a chance to dry out completely can spell trouble.

Leather is a fibrous absorbent material that can mold, dry out and rot.  Basically like our own skin, it must be washed, conditioned and not allowed to stay wet for long periods of time.  It is not uncommon for people to pull out their gear for the first time in months only to find it smelling badly and looking rather green, yes green; leather + no air = mold.  Molded leather may or may not recover from the color or smell. Always make sure that you allow your leather gear to dry out completely before putting it away.  Many of us store our leather gear in our saddle bags which is fine, if it is dry, however I strongly suggest that leather always be stored on a hanger or hook out of the saddle bags where it can get air.

Mud, can be as bad as mold in that it dries out the leather sucking all the moisture out of the hide.  If you wind up on a muddy road on your bike or have been out riding your horse in the mud, take the time to wipe the mud off.  I have seen western chaps so dry that if you fold the leather in two, it will crack and break.  For the western horseman cleaning your branding chaps isn’t always easy however a wet rag and some oil will do the trick.

In order to keep your leather supple and soft you’ll be surprised what works wonders; olive oil!  Granted there are great cleaners and conditioners one the market such as Fiebing’s Saddle Soap or Lexol’s Leather Cleaner or Leather Conditioner but olive oil really does work great.

Start with a damp rag to get the surface dirt off then apply a light coat of oil to the leather.  Sometimes I will work it in with my hand or you can use a small rag.  Do not over oil the leather! A little goes a long way and often is not always better. Too much oil can break down the fibers and also cause the leather to look and feel “gummy”. Once a year works great unless you find the leather getting stiff or dry feeling, then go ahead and oil the leather more often.  You can be your own judge. Contact me if you have any questions.

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