Water does not sit well with leather. The problem does not start with leather getting wet. It starts when the wet leather dries up. When the oil in the leather binds with the water molecules, once it evaporates, the oil goes with it. This causes leather to become brittle.
Have you tried wearing your leather boots in the rain? How was the condition of your boots after it got rained? Technically, leather can stand the rain. It has a bit of a water-proofing property that can keep your feet dry. But, do you know the after-effects of wet leather?
Authentic leather has natural oils in it. When it comes to contact with water the oils combine with it. Once it starts to dry, the nightmare begins. Because the oil is mixed with the water, once the water dries, the oil goes with it.
How important is the oil in the leather? That oil is responsible for keeping the leather flexible. Once it went, the leather will turn brittle. What will your leather boots look like after the leather becomes brittle? We hope it does not come to that point.
Although it is not an ideal situation to be in, don’t lose hope. You can salvage your wet leather if you address it pronto! So, what do you do to prevent the leather from becoming brittle?
Leather Rescue 101: What to do when it gets wet
- Lightly, wipe off the remaining water. Allow it to dry naturally but not dry. Just up until it becomes damped. Moreover, never dare to apply unnatural heat. If you’re thinking that blow-drying will help it dry faster, then you’ll also speed up its breakage. For shoes and bags, stuff them with a crumpled newspaper so that they will not lose their shape. For jackets, hang it on a broad padded hanger.
- Once the leather becomes damped, apply some leather conditioner. Grab a soft clean towel. Then, massage the conditioner using small circular motions. Furthermore, make sure that the conditioner is spread out evenly on the leather. Let it dry for several hours or better overnight. Since the pores of the leather are already open once the evaporation begins, it will absorb the conditioner easier. This will replenish the oils that were gone.
- If you notice that some of the places are already dry, apply more leather conditioner on those sections. After, buff the whole surface of the leather.
Now that you’ve managed to save your leather, it’s time to prevent it from getting wet again. Good thing, leather conditioners do not only restore but also protects. Most likely, the leather conditioner that you used on your bag and jacket has water-resistant properties. Two less leather to worry about. But for your boots and shoes, since it’s exposed to more elements, the water-proofing properties of leather conditioners are not enough. You can add more protection by using a water-proofing spray or a beeswax cream. This will ensure that you won’t have a repeat of the situation earlier.
List of Contents
What Causes Damaged Leather?
Common causes of leather damage are sunlight, temperature, stain, chemicals, and heat. Especially when you have pets at home. It’s harder to maintain a piece of leather furniture because there’s a high chance that your pets may leave a mark.
Leather is known for its durability and sophisticated look. Furthermore, it lasts longer compared to other materials and is easier to maintain. We can all agree that a leather bag or leather heels add a regal vibe to your whole outfit. The same thing with leather furniture, it gives your house a luxurious atmosphere.
While it durable and can withstand time, leather is still susceptible to damages. If you don’t address those damages ASAP, the quality of your leather will deteriorate. A good condition leather is always beautiful, but a damaged one does not look nice.
What are the common causes of damaged leather?
To be able to protect your leather items, first, you need to know the source. Know this will help you avoid ruining your precious leather and keep it in mint condition for a long time.
If you have an arch-nemesis, so does leather. Sunlight is one of the biggest causes of damaged leather. Too much sunlight does not only cause discoloration, but it also makes the leather look old and shabby. If you notice that your leather sofa is always exposed to the sunlight coming from your windows, move it to a different place. Look for a shady area in your living room and keep it there. Do you know who loves sunshine? Plants! If you have a small palm tree in your house, trade the position of your leather sofa with the palm tree.
Extreme Weather Fluctuation
If you notice, leather car seats are faster to look damaged and old. This is because the temperature changes gradually. When the car’s air conditioner is on, the temperature is cold. But when you park in a hot unshaded area, it becomes hot. You need to keep your leathers in an area where the temperature doesn’t change. Don’t move your leather indoor chairs to the balcony. It is going to ruin it.
Letting Stains Sit
When it comes to leather stains, it’s best to address them as soon as possible. It is not unusual for you or your guests to spill something over your leather couch. A quick response will help salvage it. But, if you let the stain sit for a long time, then it might become permanent. It’s always good to have a quality leather restoration kit or a leather cleaner in your laundry room for these scenarios. It will help you remove the stain without damaging the leather.
Harsh Chemicals and Soaps
When there are prescribed cleaners for certain materials, it’s best to use that instead of detergents ad soaps. These cleaners are tailored to accommodate the needs of the material. Products that have harsh chemicals, soaps, and detergents can harm the leathers instead of cleaning in. This may lead to dryness, cracks, and dullness. Instead, use a leather restoration kit to take care of your leather.
Too much Heat
While we enjoy a warm and cozy home, leaving your leather furniture nest to the heating vent may damage it. It is best to keep your leather furniture, clothes, and shoes away for heating vents or fireplaces.
How to fix damaged leather?
Quality Leather Cleaner
Preparation is the key to a quick response. So, it’s always good to keep a good quality leather cleaner in your house. It helps in removing oil, stains, dirt, and other grime without exposing the leather to any harsh chemicals.
Leather Restoration Kit
If you noticed that your leather is starting to look dull and worn out, then giving it a little TLC will help. It will make it look shiny and back to its fresh state. When you use a leather restoration kit, it helps restore and moisturize the leather. Also, gives it protection for future damages.
Baby Oil or Olive Oil
It is not the end of the world if you see a small scratch or a tear in your leather. What you can do is apply some baby oil or olive oil to the damaged area. Use a cotton ball when applying and let the leather dry for an hour. After check and see how it looks. You can repeat the process until you’re satisfied.
What will soften leather?
Vaseline, coconut oil, conditioner, and mink oil are some of the products used to soften the leather. Leather will soften over time. But you’ll have to endure blisters and calluses until it reaches that point. That is why some people induce the softening through different softening agents.
Yes, leather is amazing and a fashion must-have. But the level of discomfort while wearing them can be a lot. Before they reach the comfort-level that we’re looking for, we’ve already gone through the painful timeframe of blisters and calluses. That is why we want to speed up this process and reach the optimum comfort zone while sporting our favorite leather boots.
But before you buy a generic leather softener, there are correct ways of conditioning leather as professionals’ advice. Yes, you can say that it’s more practical to let it soften naturally. But without proper conditioning, your leather could develop cracks and tears before it becomes comfy to wear. So, here’s a good reminder, treat your leather like you treat your skin.
What products to prepare for softening?
Before you proceed with the softening process, make sure that the leather product that you’ll use is prepped. Make sure that you wipe all the dirt off the surface where you intend to condition. You can do it using a clean cloth and a small amount of water. For tougher stains, use a cleaner to get the job done. After removing all the dirt and all the stains are gone, let it dry for 24 hours at room temperature. Once your leather is clean and dry, you can start conditioning.
Leather Softening Process
Technique 1: Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has a lot of amazing use. It also good for conditioning and softening your leather boots. Before you start with the conditioning, let the leather product sit under the sunlight for 10 minutes. Anything more than that will be harmful to the leather so make sure that you are on the lookout. Exposure to sunlight will prepare the leather to accept the oil. Now, you can start by gently applying a layer of coconut oil and rubbing it on the surface using your fingers. Do small areas at a time until you’ve fully coated the entire leather product. While this is a popular softening technique, it does have a drawback. It darkens the material significantly. So, if you’re not sure that you like a darker shade of the leather that you have, test it out in an inconspicuous area. From there, you can decide if you’ll proceed with this technique or not.
Technique 2: Petroleum Jelly and Alcohol
If you want another technique, try using petroleum jelly and rubbing alcohol. To start, grab a cotton ball and soak it in alcohol. After, apply it to areas that you want to soften. You might need to repeat this a few times because alcohol tends to evaporate fast. After you apply alcohol to the areas you are targeting, apply a generous amount of petroleum jelly using an applicator or your fingers. If you’re having a problem with the darkening side effect of coconut oil, then you won’t have a problem with this technique. The leather does not change in color so you are safe.
Technique 3: Water
If you’re looking for a chemical-free way of softening, try doing this technique. Water is a good substitute for any chemical products that you might come across. To do this, use a spray bottle and spread a thin layer on every surface that you want to cover. Stop when the water starts to bead up and roll off. You want to dampen the leather not soak it. You want the water to seep into the leather without causing any saturation. After, gently wipe off any excess water to avoid cracking. Leave it to dry and finish off with a good quality conditioner. Before you try this, check if you’ve applied any water-proofing product. If that is the case, this technique will not work. The moisture will just roll off the leather and not absorb it.
Technique 4: Commercial Products
There are times when home remedies may not do the trick. While it’s a good place to start, there are times when you need a specifically crafted product. If you are looking for something stronger, head to your local store and find a product that is suitable for the type of leather that you have. Make sure that you read the instructions carefully. Also, make sure that you follow all the recommendations in the instructions precisely. To prevent your leather from drying out, you might need to reapply every year.