Leather is timeless – or at least it is if you take good care of it. Unfortunately, leather is also easily damaged, and winter weather can be particularly hard on it. If you’re carrying a leather bag this winter, taking these 3 steps can protect it and keep your bag looking its best for years to come.
Know Your Leather
Before you directly apply anything to your leather goods or treat it in any way, it’s important to do your homework. Different types of leather require different types of care, and certain very high-end products should only be maintained by brand specialists.
In general, though, the only information you really need is what kind of leather you have and how it has previously been treated. Top grain leather, for example, is not actually top quality, but is a less expensive, corrected type of leather, and suede is virtually impossible to treat if it’s been damaged, since it’s easily stained and damaged.
If you’re going to maintain your own leather bags at home, you’ll want to invest in full-grain leather bags, and find out what kind of tanning process it has been through. This will determine what types of products you use on it.
Dry Skin, Dry Leather
One of the most common problems you may encounter when integrating leather into your winter wardrobe is that leather often dries out in colder weather, and that makes sense. Remember, leather is a hide – in other words, it’s skin, and your skin gets dry and cracks in the winter, as well. And, unsurprisingly, the best way to prevent this is by doing the same thing you do for your own skin: applying a lotion-like product.
How often you condition your bag will depend on your stylistic preferences, but for a soft, polished look, you’ll likely want to apply conditioner about every three months. This will keep your leather bag soft and supple and prevent it from cracking or getting too scuffed.
Watch Out For Weather
Besides the cold, dry air, there are other weather conditions that can damage your leather bag depending on how it’s maintained. Some kinds of leather don’t hold up well to water exposure, for example, while some conditioners will protect your bag from limited water damage. During the winter, you also need to be careful about getting salt on your bag when outside.
If you do get a stain on your leather bag, be sure to spot-check any cleaner you want to use. Find a discrete spot and apply the cleaner there to make sure it doesn’t discolor your bag. In most cases, after blotting the stain, gentle soap should resolve any discoloration, but you can also use distilled white vinegar on more serious stains.
Unlike many clothing items and accessories, which can just be tossed in the wash, leather goods of all kinds require ongoing maintenance. Find products you like and can trust and develop a schedule. Though it may be possible to rehabilitate neglected leather, establishing a clear care routine will go a long way towards transforming your leather from a beloved accessory to a timeless piece you’ll want to pass on in years to come.