Leather has to be cared for to prolong their use. They must be cleaned regularly to free them of substances that can slow down their performance when used for the production of articles. Every type of leather has a special way of caring for it. For instance, Deerhide, Buckskin, and Elk leathers can be cleaned by washing them with mild soap and water. However, do not squeeze or wring it dry because it brings wrinkles in the leather.
Suedes are cleaned using a stiff bristle brush or fine sandpaper can be used to clean away dirt and most spotting on them. The suede is brushed vigorously until the dirt disappears. It is then wiped with a damp sponge. An art gum eraser can equally be used to remove dirt on suede. A commercial suede cleaner can be purchased and used to clean suede.
Smooth leather is cleaned with several commercial leather cleaners such as Saddle soaps, Omega Carnauba cream as well as leather conditioners can be used to clean smooth leather. Saddle soaps are applied with a wet sponge or brush worked into thick leather. It is then wiped off with a cloth and then polished to a soft luster. Examples of saddle soaps include Kiwi saddle soap, Belmont saddle soap, Propert saddle soap, Castile saddle soap and Blue Ribbon saddle soap.
Don’t store leather garments in tightly sealed plastic bags. Leather garments should be stored in an area where there is both ample space and circulation of air. Plastic bags tend either to stick to leather or even discolour it. Also, do not spray commercial moth repellent sprays on leather since they contain chemicals that may discolour it.
All dye applicators used in water-soluble dyes can be rinsed clean in warm water. However, those used for oil and spirit solvent dyes can be rinsed clean with a mild alcohol solvent. After they have been rinsing cleaned, they should be washed with soap and warm water and then dried.
Leather items are affected by several factors and conditions. Most of these are environmental factors. If these factors and conditions are not controlled or curbed effectively, the leather articles cannot perform their functions well. It could even result in the spoilage of the leather items. Some of these factors are dirt, water, oil or grease, chemicals, and drying.
This is the common factor that can affect virtually all leather items due to the fact that it is circulated with air. Therefore, leather product users should on a regular basis clean off the dust that finds their way on their leather items. A clean, damp cloth can be used to wipe off the dust from leather items. However, dirt in eyelets and closed up the corners of leather products can be blown away with a blower. Leather items on showcases displayed for sale should be covered with a transparent rubber to shield them from dust.
Water can cause leather items to warp or shrink. It can render them very weak, dull and unattractive. All leather users should be very cautious of its effects. Water should be kept away or far from where leather items are stored or kept. If water mistakenly pours on a leather product it should be wiped out immediately and allowed to dry slowly at moderate temperature.
Oily substances though can be used to enhance the surface quality of leather items when they are applied well, they can also cause adverse effects when they find their way expectedly on finished leather products. They can soil or stain an aspect of the leather item. This certainly affects its general outlook.
Chemicals can cause drastic effects on leather items. They can eat off the top layers of the leather items. All chemicals, especially corrosives ones like acids must be kept away from all leather items.
Leather items should be dried slowly at moderate or room temperature. They should not be exposed to the harsh radiation of the sun. Exposure of leather items to the radiant heat of the sun can cause them to fade or pale. Continual exposure can cause the leather products to shrink in size.
There are some time-tested ways of taking care of leather. Some of these ways include storing, cleaning, conditioning and flattening.
Store the leather in airy places. Humid atmosphere or environment must be avoided. Crumpling of leather must also be avoided when storing a pack of it. They must be flattened. Already finished articles in leather must be stored with stuffings. The storage area must be free from excessive heat, which would definitely affect the leather. Before the artifacts are stored, they have to be dried thoroughly. Special fungicide compounds must be sprayed on the stored leather material to prevent molding.
Smooth leather must be cleaned by the use of neutral soap. The soap would help remove the soil at the surface of the leather. The surface dirt can also be cleaned by brushing or wiping with a damp cloth. Suede leather can be cleaned with a stiff brush or fine wire brush to remove dirt and restore the nap effect or texture.
Wet leather articles have to be dried slowly at moderate temperatures. In all conditions, excessive heat must be avoided. Solvents such as benzene, carbon tetrachloride or naphtha should be used with great care to remove soil or dirt spots. Dirty spots are stains or spots which do not yield to soap and water. They are cleaned by the use of solvents.
Crumpled and rolled or folded leather need to be straightened and flattened. It is achieved by rolling the leather on the opposite side/surface while moistening the leather and placing it under a flat weight. It is then moistened and rubbed with a flat tool. Finally, it is moistened and toggled to achieve flatness.