PRODUCT CARE

 

As Korchmar adds a few new tips on Leather Care, I need to give a shout out to Pasquale Fabrizio1 of Los Angeles, his advice on tips for extending the life of your leather are very current and helpful.

Protection
Before you take your new leather out for a spin, apply a protectant to shield the fabric from possible dirt stains. "Meltonian Water and Stain Protector works to prevent stains from actually penetrating the fabric, so they’re easier to lift out," Fabrizio says.
  • 1. Run A Test - Though protectors work on all leather, discoloration can occur, so Fabrizio suggests testing a small amount on the inside lining of your bag.
  • 2. Apply The Protector - If it passes the test, simply use a damp rag and apply the formula to the entire surface, then let it sit for a couple of minutes before wiping off.
Cleaning and Conditioning
Leather can withstand a ton of wear, but as we’ve learned the hard way, the sturdy fabric isn’t stain-resistant. Fabrizio recommends two products to help get rid of dirt spots and maintain the quality of the leather.
  • 1. All-In-One Cleaner - According to Fabrizio, Meltonian’s All-Purpose Cleaner and Conditioner is one of the best cleaners, as it helps get rid of grime and restores the leather’s softness. Test before using and apply to the entire surface with a damp rag.
  • 2. Mild Detergent - “Woolite Everyday Laundry Detergent helps lighten dirt spots and breaks down surface stains,” Fabrizio says. Using a damp rag, rub the detergent onto the spot--not the entire surface--and wait a few minutes before wiping clean.
Storage
Believe it or not, your leather goods can get damaged while sitting in the closet, so keep these next two tips in mind before storing away your favorite pieces for the season.
  • 1. Condition - Fabrizio advises his clients to massage Meltonian’s Delicate Cream into the leather, which helps to condition and soften the fabric. (Note: the leather will darken at first, but returns to its natural color after it dries.)
  • 2. Use Cloth Bags - Repeat after us: never use plastic bags when storing leather! “Plastic bags cause the leather to dry up quicker,” Fabrizio says. He suggests using cloth bags instead.
1. Extend The Life of Your Leather With These Quick And Easy Tips
By: Jessica Baker, Published: 04/08/2013. To read the article, or see the links, click here.


Leather Care Tips:

We recommend the following steps and products in caring for your leather goods. Just remember: leather is a unique, natural product and unlike most things its appearance can actually improve with age. Leather is also one of the most durable and long lasting investments money can buy. Proper care will help protect that investment.

Korchmar.com disclaims any responsibility for damage to your leather goods when using these recommendations and/or products since we have no control over their proper or improper application.

Recommended Leather Care Products (for smooth leather):


Standard Conditioners:
For normal conditions I regularly use Lexol Conditioner. Both use emulsified oils that don't leave a sticky residue behind. Lexol sometimes leaves a filmy coating after drying that is usually easily buffed off with a soft cloth. You can also rub on a second light coat and wipe off immediately to remove the haze. Both products help replace the necessary oils into the leather

Heavy use Conditioners
For day in and day out use of your leather in all kinds of weather: Montana Pitch-Blend Leather Dressing is a product that I have personally used to protect and help keep dry such important items as my logging boots (wet feet are miserable!). As mentioned above in the animal oil section there are some folks who claim these type items will damage your leather, but I have used them extensively and have had no problems with them. But each to his own and there are many other fine products.

Polishes
If you want a higher gloss shine use either a clear paste polish found in most stores or try Fiebings Tan Kote. Apply following the manufacturers directions.

Use Leather Cleaner and Conditioner
If you want to protect and prolong the life of your leathers - you must clean and condition them. Excessive dryness can cause leather to crack and too much moisture can cause it to swell, mildew, and then stiffen as it dries out. A good leather cleaning system will clean your leather gently. Leather also requires conditioning to replace the natural lubricants lost during normal use. Just as your own skin dries out when exposed to the elements, so will your leather. If you don’t apply a moisturizer, you're significantly shortening the life of your leather. A good conditioner will help stop rain, spills or anything wet from staining your leather. Cleaning followed by conditioning is the route to keep leather in good condition.

Putting a shine on your Leather
Polishing is done for special occasions when you want a more glossy finish on your leather. There are a couple things to be wary of when purchasing a polishing agent. Some products contain coloring factors that will brush off on things you come in contact with. Some products also have a tendency to clog the pores in leather or dry leather out. Just as with cleaning, be sure to test out the product on a small area and when ready, buff to a shine.

Your New Leather
Your newly purchased leather has been treated in the above "light treatment" fashion. If you get stains you don't want (hmmm doesn't that just "improve" the aged look), remove the offending stain as soon you notice them, the longer they go untreated the better the chance is that they'll leave a permanent stain. If you can't remove the mark with a few firm rubs using a leather cleaner, don't keep rubbing as you may damage the leather. It's important that you use a quality cleaner and conditioner to remove stains. DON'T use the types of solvent or cleaner you normally find under the kitchen sink: they could do a lot of damage to your leather. No matter what technique you use always test it first someplace on the leather that can't be noticed. A gum eraser will remove a variety of marks from leather. Grease marks can sometimes be removed by rubbing the spot gently with sawdust moistened with benzene (lighter fluid). Most types of glue can be removed with a ball of dryed rubber cement. Again, be careful not to rub hard or the surface may be damaged. Ink is the most difficult stain to remove, because it is much like a dye itself, when attempting to remove the ink you may remove the leathers original dye. You also want to avoid placing sticky back name tags or badges on your leather. They will almost always permanently damage the leather. If you are unable to remove a stain on leather yourself, your best bet is to send it to a "professional leather cleaner".

Really Wet Leather
Ok, so you get caught in a downpour and your leather goods are sopping wet:

• Remove any heavy items from the pockets of leather
• If possible take a dry towel and soak up as much as you can - don't rub - just blot. If a towel isn't handy shake as much wetness from the leather as possible.
• To help keep your case in shape stuff them with paper towels and or un-inked newsprint (you can usually buy end rolls for pretty cheap from the local newspaper). Change the paper frequently until it quits absorbing water and then remove it to allow the item to dry from the inside and outside.
• Let your leather air dry naturally, avoiding direct heat or sunlight.
• When your leather is nearly dry, apply a little light conditioner. Follow that up with a full conditioning treatment as listed above when the leather is totally dry.
• Leather with a nap, such as suede, should be brushed after drying with a soft natural bristle brush or terry cloth.

A SUMMARY OF INFORMATION PROVIDED BY INDEPENDENT LEATHER EXPERTS

Regarding the rumor that animal oil deteriorates leather: Independent leather experts state that if leather is properly cared for (periodically cleaned, dried and conditioned) this will not occur. Furthermore, leather professionals maintain that leather which is neglected or which is conditioned while dirty or soaking wet will be damaged more by dirt, debris, bacteria, mold mildew, moisture. It is not the animal oil, but poor care which is the culprit. A conditioner which contains animal oil is not harmful to leather in and of itself. Poor or negligent leather care is harmful to leather. Ultimately, problems of mold or rancidity are the result of lack of proper leather care.
Every piece of leather in existence started out as living skin on an animal, stuffed with oil and fat as well as a large amount of water. Hides begin loaded with grease and fat; they are degreased prior to the tanning process, after which oils are restored to the hides through "fat liquoring" or "hot-stuffing". Oil must be added to the hide to restore suppleness. Animal oils have always been used in fat-liquoring and have a tremendous historical track record. In the past, sperm whale oil was used primarily. Tanneries commonly use such oils as: animal oil, fish oil, vegetable oil, and some mineral oil. The use of oil in after-market conditioners is absolutely necessary for lubrication. Beeswax in a product provides a water-repellent barrier.

You can over oil your leather though and this is why all professional leather people recommend LIGHT coats of conditioner (applying more than one if necessary).

We Recommend These Fine Cleaners:
Apple Polishes & Lexol Leather Care Products


Canvas Care Tips:
To Clean Waxed Canvas: Clean off any visible dust or dirt with a light scrub brush or a warm damp sponge.

• DO NOT dry clean
• DO NOT machine wash
• DO NOT tumble dry (no dryer)
• DO NOT use soap or detergent of any kind
• DO NOT use solvents or bleach
• DO NOT iron or starch
• DO NOT force dry or expose to a direct flame
• DO NOT expose to direct sunlight for a long period of time (such as rear car window).

Doing any of these will damage or remove the wax.

Some Basic Leather Don'ts
We don't recommend using silicon products or most aerosol "gunk" sprays, because they can impair the leather's ability to "breathe" by clogging the pores. DO NOT over clean or condition as excess oil and wax attract dirt and dust particles that actually cut the microscopic fibers that make your leather durable. NEVER use harsh household chemicals to clean leather and normally avoid leather preparations that contain alcohol, as it will dry leather out. After using saddle soap don't forget to wash the excess soap solution off with a clean damp cloth. Avoid drenching the leather with water.

Clean your smooth leather on a regular basis (how often you clean/condition depends on how much and under what conditions you use your leather) using a good saddle soap and follow the directions. If the item is muddy scrape off as much as possible and let it dry; after the remaining mud has dried completely brush it off using a medium stiff natural bristle brush. If your leather is really dusty also brush it off before using saddle soap. While the leather is still damp (NOT soaking wet) from cleaning, apply a thin coat of conditioner, the leather's pores are open and this will help the conditioner to penetrate. Let the item(s) hang in a warm dry place, but NOT near a heat source or in the sun, and after about an hour wipe off any excess conditioner. Wait 24 hours and apply another coat of light conditioner. Wait another 24 hours if you are going to apply a heavy, "water proofing" type conditioner (such as beeswax based). Always follow the manufacturers directions.



Storing Leather
To avoid drying out, keep your leather out of direct lighting, overexposure to sunlight, or near a heat source. Leather should always be stored in a well-ventilated, warm, dry area. Excess dryness can cause your leather to crack and too much moisture can cause mildew. Don't seal your leather in plastic, as you want to avoid anything that will impair the leather's ability to "breathe". Cover with a light fabric to protect from dust.

Professional Cleaning
Professional cleaning should only be done when absolutely necessary and again only by a leather specialist. You shouldn’t use a regular dry cleaner unless they can prove to you that they know what they are doing and that they work with leather regularly. Most dry cleaners know a lot more about fabrics than leather. When possible, let the cleaner know the source of the stain so they know what to do when processing. For instance, antifreeze can cause your leather to burn when cleaned. Cleaning chemicals may also weaken cement bonds. Because a slight variation in color or texture may occur, even when done by a qualified professional, always clean matching items at the same time so that the color tones will continue to match. A small amount of shrinkage may occur, but will stretch again with wear. Natural marks and wrinkles may also become more apparent after cleaning.

Leather With A Nap (suede, etc.)
Every once in a while brush your suede with a SOFT natural bristle brush Any spills or stains should be treated as fast as possible with dry corn starch - First blot, not rub, up any liquid still on the surface- then apply a generous amount of corn starch. Let it sit overnight then brush off. To get rid of dried stains that the corn starch didn't remove, try a gum eraser - Work the spot back and forth in several directions. Be careful not to work the area so hard that the nap is totally removed.