Caring for Leather Shoes, Purses, Saddles and Other Leather Goods – A Guide

We want you all to appreciate your leather goods for a lifetime, from handbags and purses to journals and wallets. They need to be looked after carefully from the point they are made, until they land in your arms. Your most cherished items will look stunning for years to come, with our handy how-to guide. Here you can find everything there is to know about leather treatment, including both day-to-day care and maintenance to minor repairs and expert cleaning. You will uphold the integrity and retain the quality of your most prized items by making time to take care of your leather.

Everyday Care

Taking care of your leather items begins with day-to-day care. You can prevent needless wear and tear and prolong the lifetime of your accessories for years by following only a few basic rules:

-Leather is a skin, and therefore it is susceptible to stretching. To retain its original shape, stop overfilling your handbag, purse or wallet.

-For leather pieces you use regularly, take special care. Take the time to wash away dust and spots with a soft cloth or shoe brush every week.

-A perfectly designed piece will loose it’s allure when it’s scratched. Take caution while using or wearing your pieces to prevent contact with highly ornamented clothing, sharp objects, or chunky jewellery.

-Wet leather takes great care, so remember to take an umbrella or remain indoors if rain is expected.

Storage

You may be wondering; how do I store my leather goods? One of the best ways you can avoid harm and preserve a high-quality finish is to properly store your leather:

-Keep your pieces away from direct sunlight as it can lead to fading.

-To prevent scratches, store your leather goods in a dust bag.

-We discourage the use of plastic bags, as they prevent the leather from getting proper ventilation.

-Keep leather away from artificial heat sources, such as radiators, which can cause leather to dry and crack.

Specific Products

In preserving the lifespan of your favorite leather products, daily maintenance and careful storage can go a long way, but unique items may need different methods of care.

Handbags

-Although it’s enticing to keep our handbags filled with our everyday essentials ready for the next day, you should be taking the time to completely empty them to prevent warping. When empty, you should gently fill it with plain, acid-free tissue paper to preserve the handbag’s silhouette.

-If you intend to leave your bag for an extended period of time-for example, until next season-you may want to find the time to cover hardware like zippers and buckles in tissue paper to prevent them from making any unintentional indentations on your leather.

-The following step would be to cover your bag, ideally in the dust bag in which it came- as they are the correct size to avoid the shape warping. A white cotton pillowcase could be an ideal replacement if you no longer have the original dust bag- just ensure you are not using colored fabric to avoid color transfer.

-Place your protected handbag, once covered, away from direct sunlight and artificial heat sources. Instead of hanging it up, make sure to stand it on its foundation, as this will avoid stretching the handles. In addition, try to select a spot that is sufficiently high enough to enable the handles to stand up unimpeded. Doing otherwise will lead them to become distorted or bent.

-After taking such care with the maintenance and storage of your handbag, the final step to ensure it stays in pristine condition would be to invest in a handbag hook to keep the bag off of dirty and uneven surfaces.

Wallets

-To meet your needs, wallets come in a range of sizes and silhouettes. Choose a design that suits your needs and by not overloading the different pockets, compartments and card slots, reduce the risk of stressing the leather.

-You can avoid scratches and indentations when keeping your wallet in a handbag, simply by placing your wallet in a separate compartment or a dedicated zip pocket in the lining. To eliminate the constant build-up of dust and dirt that can accumulate, it’s good practice to gently scrub or clean your wallet frequently.

Travel Bags

-Leather travel bags are crafted with reliability and the wear and tear of traveling in mind. There are a few simple steps you can take to ensure the integrity and polish of your suitcase, cabin bag or weekend bag.

-When using your bag, make sure to always stand it on its wheels or protective feet instead of on its side to avoid it touching the floor.

-To prevent the risk of scratching while your travel bag is in the hold or overhead compartment, use a protective luggage cover while it is in transit.

-Empty your travel bag between trips and keep it in its protective bag in a position that fits it easily so you don’t have to fold the handles and ensure it is not tightly packed against other accessories.

Briefcases

-Keep the polished and professional finish of a briefcase by taking care to stand it whenever possible on the supportive brass feet- this will prevent excessive wear on the leather.

-By not overfilling it with heavy laptops and objects, you will avoid putting excess strain on its zips and hardware. When working abroad, if you are asked to pack your briefcase in a larger travel bag, ensure that it is secured within a protective bag.

Gloves

-Because we wear gloves throughout a period of unpredictable weather, a number of elements are frequently exposed to our favourite gloves. Let them dry naturally away from sunlight and any artificial heat, such as radiators, if your gloves get damp from snow or rain.

-If you accidentally drop a glove and it needs to be cleaned, start by gently wiping it down with a soft brush or cloth. Then you can use leather shampoo and use a sponge to clean the area. Be careful not to oversaturate the leather. When clean, they can be left to dry in a cool, dry spot, wearing them occasionally to help preserve their shape.

Belts

-As belts are an item that many of us wear every day, to prolong their lifetime, it is necessary to rotate them. Identifying the best fit would also promote their longevity; and avoid stretching.

-Gently brush away any dust or dirt while not wearing your belt and hang it by the buckle in a cool, dry space away from intense heat or sunlight. You can prevent any imprints from the hardware and preserve its original shape by enabling a belt to hang flat rather than rolling it up.

Saddles

-After your horse, the most costly part of your equine gear is probably your saddle. It pays to take care of it and do whatever you can to sustain it, for this purpose alone.

-Although sitting down might not be good for us all the time, it’s good for the saddle. Don’t store your saddle lying on its side, standing on its fork, or hanging on a string by the horn. These positions may place the wrong type of pressure on the tree over time or cause the skirts to become misformed. Whenever your saddle is not on a horse, it’s best to keep it on a saddle stand or saddle rack.

-Strong saddle stands will protect the bars and keep the skirts flat. The majority of stands or wall racks made commercially are perfect. If you want to build yourself a saddle rack, make sure it properly supports your saddle. Don’t go down the middle with a single dowel or a two-by-four. In the “A” type, the bars of the saddle need to be supported. On the stand, the saddle should rest the way it rests on a horse.

-Turn the stirrups out and back towards the rear of the saddle when the saddle is on the stand and slide a broom handle or short two-by-four piece through them. The stirrup fenders will settle fairly easily in the turned position and you won’t have to fight to hold the thick stirrup leathers and fender pulled around your leg anymore. If you experience knee pain while riding, this helps immensely.

-Cover your saddle while it is on the stand to avoid dust from the barn.  In different types and fabrics, you can buy commercially-made saddle covers. There are essentially two designs: the ones you throw over the top of the saddle and the ones that fit snugly around it. But don’t put or cover your saddle in something plastic, whatever you do. Leather is a natural fiber that needs to “breathe.” Imprison it in plastic, and you’ll end up in a saddle covered in white mould.

Bridles

-After each use, cleanse your bridle. Horses get hot and generate a great deal of sweat. With a wet towel, wipe your bridle. This helps to extract salt.  Do not use water to soak the halter — this allows the leather to dry and crack.

-With a washcloth, dry the bridle. Leaving it damp creates an atmosphere for mould.

-On top of the brow band, or crown piece, place the rein buckle. Wrap the reins around the bridle ‘s top and form a circle. Around it, wrap the throat latch.

-Within a bridle bag, lay the bridle flat inside. Dampness is avoided by a fleece-lined pack. Protect it inside the bag with snaps or Velcro.

-In an area where there is no humidity or moisture, hang the bag on a tack rack or hook. Hanging your bridle allows you to preserve the natural shape of the horse’s head.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Cleaning and Maintaining Leather

-Do use a cloth or soft brush to regularly clean leather

-Do air out leather frequently

-Do wipe off water and moisture as soon as you can

-Do condition the leather with Saphir Renovateur Cream a minimum of every 3-6 months

-Do use leather shampoo and warm water to clean any stains

-Don’t ever machine wash leather

-Don’t get the leather wet if it is avoidable

-Don’t dry wet leather with any artificial heat

-Don’t put leather in the dryer

Maintenance

Leather is loved for its visual nuances; varying textures, delicate shifts in tone, slowly developing patinas and subtle signs of a life well-loved. When working with such a versatile and multi-faceted material, the maintenance choices you make can shape the appearance of your leather goods for years to come; allowing you to truly tailor them to your individual style.

For example, polishing leather retains its original shine. This procedure is perfect for accessories that you would like to keep in flawless condition for high gloss, formal or evening wear. However, you can prefer to allow weathering for more casual, utilitarian pieces such as duffel bags or hobo bags and to create their own unique features. Daily dusting and a quick wipe from time to time with a damp cloth would definitely suffice in this situation.

Sleek, fine and patent leathers can benefit from the Saphir Renovateur Cream to enrich, hydrate and maintain their flexible qualities. To prevent mild scratches, gentle creams and conditioners, such as the Saphir Cordovan or Nappa Cream, can also be used. Polish can be used for spotting buff scratches and scuffs when vibrant colors are involved, whereas the Saphir Creme 1925 color restoration balm is suitable for complete rejuvenation.

Cleaning Different Types of Leather

Black/Ebony: Black and ebony leather is forgiving in that a multitude of sins can be concealed by the dark colour. It is still important to clean and care for your black leather products, however. Your accessories will be kept in good condition by frequent soft brushing and semi-regular cleaning with a damp cloth.

Cream/Ivory: Lighter leather is more prone to visible wear and tear. For example, a white bag worn with indigo jeans can be subject to color transfer, so cleaning is necessary for a flawless finish to be preserved. Be sure to wipe away any dust with a soft cloth before cleaning. Using the Saphir Cleanser, faint marks can be buffed away, but harder stains may require a little more effort. In order to avoid ink stains, methylated spirits or rubbing alcohol can work, while absorbent powders such as corn starch or baking powder may be used to tackle oil and grease. It is wise to add a protective spray to safeguard against further marks or stains once your piece is clean.

Deep Shine/Patent: Scuffs can disrupt a patent or high-shine accessory ‘s luxurious allure; however, they can be removed with very little effort. If the patent wallet, purse or accessory looks a little dull, all you need to remove dust and build up and restore the original shine could be a wipe with a damp cloth. Saphir’s cleansers are available if there are more concentrated scuffs to handle. Alternatively, common household products can be very useful as well: add a soft cloth to the affected area with petroleum jelly or olive oil, leave for a few minutes and then gently buff away.

Saffiano: Saffiano leather, made with a stamping approach, has a signature textured finish. Coupled with the wax treatment, this cross-hatch texture makes it extremely durable and stain resistant. Just clean your Saffiano leather goods with a soft damp cloth or Saphir’s Cleanser to avoid damaging the specialist finish.

Smooth: Special care should be taken to retain a smooth leather finish. As such, avoiding the use of abrasive methods of cleaning is necessary. Start brushing with a soft bristle brush and use a cotton or micro-fibre cloth to clean away any excess dust or debris. Next, nourish the surface with Saphir Renovateur Cream, a top of the line leather conditioner, to keep it looking pristine.

Textured leather: Always make sure to work with the grain while cleaning textured leathers, such as lizard, pebble, and silk print. Although standard cleaning techniques such as cleanser and water and specialized solutions for leather cleaning may be used, after cleaning, it is necessary to thoroughly remove any substance built up from grooves and crevices. By gently buffing the items with a soft brush, this can be accomplished.

Removing Deep Scratches

Whilst it is possible to take care of faint scratches with a little polishing, deep scratches need more treatment. First, with a damp cloth, it’s important to carefully clean the area and allow the surface to dry. Test the surface next. Buff the scratch with a soft dry cloth if the paint is scratched but the surface remains intact and add thin coats of a similar color balm slowly. Blot any excess nicks with Saphir’s Super Invulner Spray to defend against further scratches. For any particularly deep scratches, we recommend reaching out to ShoeMedic to get your piece the professional help it requires. The team at ShoeMedic can take care of bag repair in Toronto, horse riding boot repairs, and everything in between.

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