There is just something about real leather, especially leather jackets. If you have ever put one on, you know the feeling. When you think about Indiana Jones, Mad Max, Maverick, or Morpheus, you can see that they exude coolness. Now, that may be in part down to the characters themselves, but I am sure that the leather jackets have something to do with it.
I never thought that I was cool enough to wear a leather jacket but, when I looked into it, I found that there is a leather jacket out there for everyone. But, before you are buying one, you should know what to look for and how to take care of it. That leather jacket may look good, but it could be low-quality and junky.
So, what should you be looking for?
The Difference Between Full-Grain & Top-Grain Leather
When it comes to leather, not all leather is created equal. On the hide of the animal, there are four distinct layers (from highest-quality to lowest-quality): the grain, junction, corium, and flesh. The quality of the leather depends on the layers used.
Full-grain leather consists of the top two layers: the grain and junction. This has all of the natural grain of the hide, and will only get more beautiful over time.
Top-grain leather is the second-highest quality of leather. It is around the same thickness as full-grain but has more corium and less grain. This usually happens when the grain is tarnished and sanded down.
Genuine leather is what you are left with after the top layer has been split off. It can often be painted to look like high-grade leather. Suede is one example of genuine leather.
Bonded leather is the lowest-quality leather and is formed by taking leather scraps and gluing them together. It is similar in nature to vinyl, is very weak, and often degrades quickly.
How to Take Care Of Real Leather?
If you want your leather to last for a long time, then you need to take care of it. There are many ways to do this, and it often only takes a few minutes of your time. A little care and attention can save your leather and save you money.
Storing Your Leather
Storing your real leather correctly will help it to last. Exposure to direct sunlight, extreme temperatures, and moisture can all affect your leather and weaken it. Storing your leather items in a cool, dry place is one of the best things which you can do for them.
For jackets, use a wide padded hanger to avoid misshapen shoulders, wrinkling, and stretching.
Shoes should be put into shoe bags and stored in a box to prevent scuffing and scraping.
Cases and leather bags should be stored on shelves and not hung by the handles.
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Make sure that you do not leave your leather goods in a hot place, like the trunk of a car on a hot day. Storing your leathers correctly is one of the best things which you can do for them.
Cleaning Your Leather
Like most fabrics, keeping your leather clean will help to lengthen its life. This can be as simple as brushing away the cosmetic dirt and dust on the surface, and a boar brush is a great way to do this. Boar hair is soft and will not damage the leather. Keeping dirt and grime off of your leather will stop the leather from being contaminated.
You can also clean your leather items with a mix of soap and water. Make sure to remove any polish first (nail polish remover works for this), and then gently wipe the leather with the soapy water, rinsing and drying it carefully.
Should You Condition Or Polish Your Real Leather?
Conditioning your real leather is a great way to keep it soft and supple and will make your leather last. A special leather conditioner is great when used after cleaning and will help to prepare your leather for polishing.
When it comes to polishing leather, we are mainly dealing with shoes, though you can also polish bags, wallets, and portfolios. I would not recommend polishing your jacket. Polishing your shoes will give them a brilliant shine and protection. Not only is your leather going to look good but you are adding an extra layer of protection to help it last.
Start by gently cleaning your leather goods, conditioning them, and then polishing them.
Stick To A Schedule
Cleaning and polishing your leather can take some time, depending on the amount of leather which you have (leather furniture can take a while), so I recommend creating a schedule and sticking to it. The frequency of your cleaning and polishing will depend on a few factors:
- How often you use the item.
- The climate the leather is in.
- Your body chemistry. Do you sweat a lot?
All of your leather, at a minimum, should be cleaned every two months. Polishing most of your leather will keep it looking great and will help it to last longer. By staying organized, you will never fall behind in your leather schedule. If your leather becomes damaged or split due to neglect, it is hard to restore it to its former self.
Spend a little time caring for your leather, and save yourself a lot of hassle in the future.
Reshaping Your Leather
Leather is the hide of an animal and continues to move and change shape once it has been made into a leather good. Over time, your real leather is going to lose its shape and, when that happens, you need to do something about it.
Heat is one of the biggest culprits. Whether it is the heat from the sun or the heat from our bodies, leather will lose its shape over time. Moisture will also misshape the leather. If moisture gets into the leather, and the leather changes shape, it will stay in that shape when it dries.
Using a shoe tree will help to keep shoes in the correct shape, and fitting well, should they be exposed to heat or moisture. Stuffing your leather bags with plastic or paper will help them to keep their shape.
What To Do If Your Leather Stains?
Prevention is always the best cure. If you want to stop your leather from becoming stained, then try not to spill anything on it. Unfortunately, that is not always possible, and you will get a stain on your leather. So, what do you do?
Leather will absorb stains, so the best thing to do is to avoid letting the stain set in. Keep a cloth with you in case you have to wipe off a spill.
If you want to add some extra protection, you can use a stain protector. Look for a stain protector which adds waterproof protection to your items. When water gets into your leather, it can break down the fibers and make the leather brittle.
Wrapping It Up
Leather goods are a luxury item (as long as you are investing in premium leather). If your leather gets damaged, worn, or misshapen, it can be hard to restore it to its former glory. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to maintain the appearance and strength of your leather.
A few minutes, here and there, can do a world of good for your leather, and have it last as long as possible. Clean your leather when it needs it, condition it, and polish it. Make sure that stains do not become permanent, store your leather correctly, and keep it out of the elements.
With enough care and attention, your leather can last for a lifetime.