Live & Learn with Linda: Leather CarePosted: Updated:
Ironically, I seem to spend a lot of time and money trying to keep my skin from looking leathery as I get deeper and deeper in my 50s. Now, as I decide to figure out how to revive my leather purses, furniture and car interior it turns out the solution is basically the same as it is for my face – clean and moisturize. Except that I'm trying to keep my leather looking like leather and not cracking cardboard. Somehow, I resist the comparison of my face to my ottoman but it does help to understand how to best care for leather of all kinds. That's especially true here in Arizona, where heat, sunlight and dryness are the enemy of all kinds of leather.
What I learned about leather care
What I learned was that even though leather appears all-equal, in reality it's not. Rather, how it's finished can really make a difference in how to clean and care for it. Take shoes for example. I learn this the hard way. For my shoes and boots, I adore those little shoeshine-in-a-sponge kits, easy to shine up my shoes as I walk out the door. Loving the way it works on my shoes, I picked one up the other day to shine up a leather satchel and it left it streaky and dark. As I read the instructions (unfortunately, AFTER) it said to be used only on oil finished leather goods. The satchel was not oil finished and so it took the polish differently than my shoes. So first, as mom always said, take a minute to read the instructions to see if it's safe to use on your expensive leather pieces. Also, I learned to always, always, test the cleaner on a small part of your leather that remains unseen. Just to see the aftereffects. Many cleaners will change the color a little bit or it revives the leather to where it actually was before – but it will look different than your aged piece. Just make sure you like the new finish.
That said, I found that making my own leather cleaner involved some hard to find ingredients and probably as much expense as purchasing products already on the market. So, I decided the approach was probably better to let you know what I liked.
An important thing to remember is that you first want to clean the leather then you need to condition it.
Two leather care products on the market do this two-step process in one product and I had good results with both.
First, Leather CPR is a product endorsed by the Queen of Clean and it worked great. It cleans, it conditions in one step. My leather came out subtle and smooth. I used the enclosed sponge and then buffed it with a micro fiber cloth but any soft cloth will work. I found mine at Walgreen's but it's available at a lot of stores.
The second product that I really liked was Weiman Leather Wipes. I found them at Target but a whole listing of stores is available on their website. I have to say I'm sold on these! They make cleaning and conditioning, again in one-step so very easy. Just pull out a wipe and away you go. I used them on my purses, chair, ottoman, shoes, luggage, care interior. They are such an easy way to clean and condition leather. You can see the dirt come off on the wipe, it dries quickly and make cleaning items that have some leather and some cloth as simple as can be.
These wipes really make keeping up on the leather care easy. That alone may be the best feature. I'll pull out a wipe to go over my chair quickly. Done!
I felt very obligated to try one other method that was recommended, using simple moisturizing soap. This comes from the old routine of using saddle soap to clean saddles. And, just by the way, if you can find it, saddle soap still works great. But, I found that a simple moisturizing soap like Dove or Ivory or even an inexpensive pump brand like I tried for the segment also works well. Just take a soft cloth and rub it over the moistened soap or pump on a little from the pump. Buff it on to clean the piece. Do not rinse it off, just rub it in. This will clean your leather, you'll ultimately need to condition it but this will get it clean. I found a good leather conditioning lotion in the shoe department. It's by Kiwi and called Leather Lotion.
Don't expect your cleaned leather to come out spot free; some stains are just there. And, spot cleaning is difficult; I learned it's better to do the entire area because of the difference in appearance of the old vs. the newly cleaned leather.
I have to say, I loved those leather wipes! So much that I cleaned just about every purse I own. If only all cleaning was that easy. Now, on to learning about suede…
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