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How to properly clean and care for leather?
- You have, for example, a high-quality briefcase, a frequently used leather backpack or a cherished handbag and would now like to know how to clean the leather that has inevitably become dirty over time?
- How can you remove stains or scratches on the leather?
- What is the best way to clean the leather?
- Does leather cleaning for smooth leather such as nappa leather look different from cleaning for suede leather?
- And what about suede, buffalo leather or aniline leather?
Also, you may want to clean the leather without chemicals if possible. You are wondering if there are any proven home remedies to properly clean or care for leather.
- What about the good old curd soap, soft soap or bile soap, supposedly true miracle cures, which have always served well for all kinds of soiling?
- What about water? Can't leather simply be cleaned with water or distilled water? And if so, what do you have to consider?
See our suggested solutions...
Tips & tricks for cleaning and caring for leather
Leather care with home remedies:
As the owner of a product made of genuine leather, i.e. a natural product, there is often a desire to clean and care for this item in the most environmentally friendly way possible. Therefore, many like to resort to home remedies when caring for leather. However, these home remedies are usually based on animal or vegetable substances. However, this then leads to undesirable side effects. If leather is treated with perishable products, these in turn spoil on the surface of the material or in the leather. This cannot be good.
The most commonly used home remedies, but they may turn out to be wrong:
- Degreased milk diluted with water: milk becomes rancid and thus damages the leather (not to mention the hygienic aspect of having spoiled milk spread on your leather product).
- Cleaning with sliced potatoes: potatoes contain starch, which visibly settles on the leather.
- Sliced onion for water stains: a damp cloth often does the same and does not cause unpleasant odors.
- Bananas: Banana peels or leftover bananas are perishable and the regreasing effect is insufficient.
- Beaten egg whites for grease stains: Egg whites leave a film.
So the typical home remedies are not the right choice to maintain their high-quality leather bag sustainably and to keep the leather beautiful for a long time. If you still want to clean your leather materials in an environmentally friendly way, there are various organic products for leather care to choose from.
Organic leather care at Jahn-Lederwaren
Even if there are no cross-manufacturer certifications in the field of leather care, there are several suppliers who have voluntarily committed themselves to compliance with various organic criteria and show this on their products.
For example, you will find Ulrich's Rough Leather Care, an organic leather care product, in our range.
What are the characteristics of organic leather care and cleaning products?
Characteristic is for example:
- consist of renewable raw materials
- do not contain petroleum surfactants
- do not contain optical brighteners
- do not contain fragrances and dyes
- do not contain preservatives
- do not contain palm oil
- are biodegradable
- comply with the guidelines of the German Animal Welfare Association
Jahn-Lederwaren also offers conventional products for cleaning, caring for and impregnating bags and other items made of genuine leather. In particular, there are various products of the Colourlock brand.
Leather care with water?
Good and cheap alternative or rather leave it?
Leather cleaning with water is good when it comes to removing coarse soiling
Got caught in the rain on your bike? The chic shoulder bag or your backpack got a few splashes of mud? In such cases, the leather must first be freed from dirt. Coarse dirt can be removed with a soft brush or a damp cloth. For larger stains, we recommend that you also use a leather cleaner. It should be noted that too much mechanical processing is bad, because the leather could be damaged. Therefore, always proceed carefully and do not treat individual areas too long and too intensively.
Cleaning leather with water is bad if it is open-pored leather
If you don't know what type of leather your product is, first do the water drop test: rub a drop of water on a covered area and see if the water beads off or soaks in. If the drop rolls off, everything is fine and you can clean the leather with water or aqueous cleaners without any problems.
However, if the water soaks in, you are dealing with an open-pored leather such as suede, buffalo leather or aniline leather. Open-pored leather is very sensitive to contact with water or other liquids. So, in this case, it is not advisable to use water to clean the leather.
Leather care: Which is better - leather grease or leather oil?
It is often said that leather grease closes the pores of the leather, while leather oil would virtually drown the leather and then let it look too oily. According to "Lederzentrum", true experts in leather care, leather grease, as long as it does not consist of particularly tough resins or waxes, would hardly affect the breathability of a leather, however. In the same way, a leather oil would not "oil up" a product if applied sparingly.
The "Lederzentrum" holds therefore: "With an old, dry leather it makes quite sense to use rather a leather oil. This is more liquid and penetrates more deeply into the fibers, which already suffered by the dryness. With a new leather, on the other hand, it does not matter whether an oil or a grease is applied. The important thing is to care for new leather sparingly and regularly. In such cases, it's up to the customer which product he prefers."
Leather care especially for open-pored leather
How do I properly care for suede or suede leather? Suede is often colloquially referred to as suede and is a collective term for all types of leather with a rough surface.
So if you have a bag or backpack made of open-pored, natural leather, any kind of moisture will penetrate the leather and, in the worst case, leave an unsightly stain. So what to do? In this case, it is recommended to impregnate the leather from the beginning to prevent water or moisture from soaking into the leather.
You can tell whether the leather is sufficiently impregnated by the fact that water no longer soaks into the leather but rolls off. However, the impregnation must be refreshed after some time. You can tell when the bag, backpack, briefcase, or any other type of leather becomes sensitive to liquids again, which means it is high time to re-impregnate it.
Removing stains from porous leather
For example, you have a bag made of buffalo leather or a folder made of aniline leather. Despite careful care you have got some stains? And now?
Dried-in, deep-seated stains are actually difficult to remove from open-pored leather. With a special eraser for suede, the nubuck eraser, you may still be able to remove stains. To do this, you need to carefully roughen the leather with the eraser. After roughening, you should then treat the leather with suede leather care. However, deep-seated stains cannot be removed with this. They belong in the hands of a professional specialist.
Worst case: leather with mold
What to do in case of mold on leather? How to clean leather with mold? How to remove mold from products made of leather again?
If your bag, backpack or even any other leather product is affected by mold, the affected piece must be cleaned immediately. The "Hausjournal.net" recommends in this case that it is best to use a diluted vinegar essence ( e.g. 25% essence) to kill the mold. For smooth leather, it is recommended to mix a solution of "vinegar to water in a ratio of 1 to 1", with which one then wipes the smooth leather. Afterwards, the leather should be rinsed with clean water. For rough leather, such as aniline or buffalo leather, the affected area should only be dabbed.
The "Lederzentrum" points out that, assuming quick action, problems with white mold can be dealt with quickly and quite easily. However, it looks completely different if the leather is infested with black mold. Even if one can clean the leather so far that the optics is again in order, the musty smell after damp cellar remains. In future, he said, care must be taken to ensure that leather articles are not stored in excessively humid conditions without adequate air circulation. Otherwise you get the problem with mold again and again.
Service and information
With every purchase in our store you will of course receive a 14-day right of withdrawal and a warranty of two years. If you still have questions or would like advice, please feel free to call or email us.
Dipl. Designer Dirk Jahn