Caring for Fine Leather Wallets and Leather Accessories
Fine leather deserves good care. The appropriate treatment of your leather items depends upon their condition or the degree of deterioration when you treat them.
Leather deteriorates largely by four means:
- Oxidation is most Lifestyle Accessories readily seen in very old dry leather, with surface cracking and flaking, and over-all weakness. Oxidation will eventually turn leather to dust. It is inhibited by a thorough impregnation with an inert conditioner which coats the fibers. Leather items should not be sealed in a drawer and forgotten – they must be kept fully conditioned.
- Chemical damage can be through the effect of ultraviolet light, ozone, acid from sulphurous and nitrous pollutants in the air, or through chemical action following treatment with tallow or neatsfoot oil compounds. Both oxidation and chemical damage occur faster at higher temperatures. Leather should be stored away from heat, and not needlessly exposed to sunlight.
- Internal chafing or breaking of fibers occurs when dry leather is flexed. A lubricant is essential to allow the fibers to slide one against the other. Dry leather should not be flexed prior to thorough lubrication.
- Abrasion can be external, from rubbing on the outside, or internal from dirt particles ground into the leather.
The following guide may be used to determine the best regime for conditioning and preserving your wallets, leather accessories, luggage and travel accessories.
For new, unused leather, still flexible with oils put in by the tannery, a light coating of a good leather conditioner every six months will maintain the lubrication. The exceptions are boots and shoes, and other items subject to repeated wetting and drying. These should be dried (without heat) when wet, and then given a good coat of conditioner. Boots which are dirty should first be washed. Boots and all leather used in hot dusty conditions should be conditioned more frequently.
For dry, used leather, which has been let to dry out over only a short period of time where deterioration by oxidation is negligible. This leather may be treated as used leather but care must be taken not to flex the leather before it has become soft by using leather soap and water.
For old leather, which has become very dry, or where deterioration of the surface or deterioration of the strength is evident. This should not be subjected to the stress of washing. One or more liberal coatings of a good leather conditioner should be applied and allowed to penetrate with minimum flexing of the leather until the leather is saturated. Excess conditioner can then be gently removed, and if the surface is not a problem, the leather can be very gently buffed with a soft cloth. Thereafter you leather items should be stored away from sunlight, heat, and dirt and a light coating of conditioner applied every six months to renew any losses from evaporation on the surface. The conditioner will not restore strength to deteriorated leather. It will inhibit further deterioration and enhance appearance.