Love Your Leather: Care and Cleaning Love Your Leather: Care and Cleaning

Leather is a natural product with a supple, smooth texture, elegant striations and character all its own. What sometimes appears to consumers as imperfections is simply the leather itself. A few tips regarding caring for cleaning will keep leather in your closet for many years. When a leather garment needs a thorough cleaning, use a professional cleaning service, but for small problems that occur in between cleanings, there are at-home solutions you can try.

Caring for leather will go far in maintaining its lithe nature. Keep leather stored in a dark closet - long periods of light exposure will cause variations in color. Do not store it in plastic bags. If you should get caught in rain while wearing leather, let the garment dry naturally. Do not use a hair dryer or place the item near a heat source to dry. Control the amount of humidity, if possible, to prevent mildew and mold from forming. Keep leather from drying and cracking by using the manufacturer's suggest leather conditioner or saddle soap.

Knowing some simple cleaning tips will keep your leather looking great even if your leather meets with an accident.

Rain
Getting caught in the rain will cause spots to appear where the drops hit the leather. After the spot has dried completely, rub gently with a cloth to remove. Do not use a hair dryer or place the item near a heat source to aide in the drying process. Let the leather dry on its own.

Salt Spots
In cold weather areasm salt is used on roads and sidewalks. The salt water can get on clothing, leaving a small salt deposit. Use a damp cloth or sponge to remove the salt and allow the garment to dry naturally. If needed, use leather conditioner or saddle soap to keep the cloth supple. If you find the salt stain too stubborn to be removed with just a damp sponge, try this trick: Make solution of three parts vinegar to one part water. Using a cotton ball, dab the solution on the salt spots. Let dry naturally. Be sure to do a spot test first.

Ink Stains
Unfortunately, accidents and mishaps do occur. Ink is a notorious staining agent that often defies the best efforts to be removed. If you find ink on your favorite leather jacket, try this cleaning tip. Always do a spot test by trying the cleaner on a tiny area that cannot be seen. Dip a cotton swab into isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol and dab the ink spot. Let the alcohol sit on the stain for 15 to 20 minutes. When the time is up, wipe with a dry towel. If the area is very large, send it off to a professional cleaner who is experienced in working with leather. Leather stain kits are also available at retail stores that carry leather garments.

Oil and Grease
A word of warning when it comes to removing grease stains: Do not use water. Water and oil do not mix and the water will only serve to smear the oil or grease even more. Grab a dry towel or cloth and blot at the oil or grease. Once the area is drier, sprinkle talc or cornstarch on the grease or oil to wick out any remaining moisture and absorb the stain. Let the absorbing agents remain on the stain overnight. The next day, wipe off the talc or cornstarch. The stain should be gone or at the very least, lessened in appearance.

Gum
Finding gum on the bottom of a shoe is bad enough, but when it's sat upon and you find it on your favorite leather skirt, what should you do? Use the same method you would for anything gum is stuck to - hold ice against the gum until it hardens and then carefully pull it away. Remember, sharp objects, including fingernails, will scratch leather so peel the gum away with caution.

Leather has the ability to last for years if properly maintained, but even with the best care accidents happen. Always use the suggestions from the manufacturer first and if those don't work, try a new route. Here's to the long life of leather!

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