Leather accessories are carefully made by artisans involving techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years. So, every leather accessory has tradition and history deep rooted in it. We want to make sure you know exactly how to make these precious items look stunning for your entire lifetime.
The way you care for your leather accessories will depend on your taste in style.
Some people want a clean and polished looking product, which means they will need to take more precaution and care for their leather goods slightly more often.
Some people like their leather to look rugged and worn in to show off the adventures and life the leather has lived. This can be achieved with natural wear and tear like scratches, blemishes, and developing a beautiful patina.
A patina is how the appearance of vegetable tanned leather changes with time, similar to the aging of a fine whiskey. It is a hallmark of the highest quality leather and is what makes this type of leather become more valuable and unique with time.
Smoke N’ Mirrors exclusively uses vegetable tanned leather because of its strength, durability, and ecologically friendly way of being produced.
Source: il Bisonte
The way a patina develops depends on a few factors like sun exposure and use.
Exposure to sunlight will tan the leather, similar to the way it tans our own skin, naturally enriching the color and giving it a deeper tone.
The more you use your leather product, the oils from your hands will absorb into the leather and darken the edges.
1) Keep your earring hooks perfectly polished
A popular fan favorite accessory is our leather earrings, which come in your choice of stainless steel or 925 sterling silver earring hooks.
Both of these metals are hypoallergenic but they can become tarnished over time due to air exposure or when they come into contact with the wrong conditions.
Every pair of earrings comes with a microfiber polishing cloth for free.
You can easily get rid of any tarnishing on your earring hooks with this microfiber polishing cloth. All you have to do is gently rub the metal with the dry cloth and the tarnish will instantly be removed.
Just make sure to wipe the buildup off of the polishing cloth so you won’t be rubbing the tarnish back onto the earrings as you keep polishing them.
It is also important to avoid getting chemicals on the metal because this will tarnish them faster. For example, always use hairsprays, perfumes, or other sprays before putting on your earrings.
The oils from your skin can also add to tarnishing metals, so it is good practice to clean your earring hooks with the polishing cloth after each time you wear them. Then store them in a dry airtight container.
2) Leather is water resistant but not waterproof
Vegetable tanned leather is naturally water resistant, plus it can be treated with beeswax or other finishes to strengthen its water resistance.
Smoke N’ Mirrors exclusively uses vegetable tanned leather and always treats it with a natural beeswax finish to strengthen its durability.
Because it is water resistant you can walk through mild rain or snow (not torrential downpours) without worrying about ruining your leather accessories.
Although, you should never shower or go swimming while wearing leather accessories, or submerge your leather underwater because this could lead to permanent damage.
If your leather items get wet, always make sure to use a thick microfiber hand towel to absorb as much water as possible and then let them air dry. Once they are completely dry, you should use a leather conditioner on them (described in detail in step 5) and then store them.
Never use heat or a blowdryer to dry your leather goods because heat can severely damage leather.
3) Prevent leather damage caused by the sun
Occasionally being in direct sunlight is perfectly fine for leather; this is what helps develop a beautiful patina. The sun literally tans leather just like it tans our skin.
But, if you do not want your leather accessories to become darker, you should avoid leaving them in direct sunlight.
High temperatures can also damage leather by drying it out and causing it to crack. So it is important to avoid heat guns, hair dryers, or leaving your leather goods near radiators and other sources of heat.
4) Keep your leather clean
Use a damp cloth to wipe down your leather goods once a week. This will remove any dirt, dust, and other particles that are notorious for causing premature aging.
Never use soap to clean leather, the chemicals in soap can damage leather over time.
If you use any of your leather accessories daily, you should clean them more frequently to avoid building up dirt and grime. You should also wipe down your leather even after a single hard use in a storm or out in extreme conditions.
Simply using a damp cloth to clean your leather is a minimal method that goes a long way to preserving your leather.
You should also remove stains as soon as you notice them. There are different ways to remove stains, depending on what the stain is from. Always spot test a cleaning method on a small or inconspicuous area of the stain to make sure it works safely.
Grease & oil stains: Never apply water to grease stains. Use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe the oil or grease off the surface of your leather item. If this doesn’t completely remove the stain, pour enough cornstarch or baking soda to completely cover the stain, and pat it in. Let this sit overnight so the cornstarch or baking soda can absorb the rest of the oils. The next morning, use a soft-bristled brush to gently wipe the cornstarch or baking soda off of the leather.
Ink stains: Mix one part rubbing alcohol and one part lukewarm water together. Dip a cotton swab into this mixture and rub it over the entire ink stain in circular motions. This should get rid of the stain. Let the leather air dry overnight and apply a leather conditioner (as described in step 5) to nourish the leather again.
For large or more difficult stains like red wine stains, it will be worth your time and money to take your leather goods to a professional leather cleaner as soon as possible.
5) Nourish your leather with a conditioner
A leather conditioner will preserve your vegetable tanned leather by giving it the essential oils and waxes it needs. This will prevent it from cracking, peeling, or drying out as well as keeping it flexible and resilient.
How often you should condition your leather accessories depends on how frequently you use them and how you want them to look. The more often you use your leather goods, the more often you should condition them.
If you want your leather to look more rugged and worn in, you should condition it every 6 to 12 months.
If you want your leather to look clean and polished, you should condition it every 1 to 3 months to keep the luster looking its best.
You can find our favorite leather conditioner by clicking this link. It is made with beeswax to soften, preserve, and waterproof leather. Although, it is still important to remember that leather is not fully waterproof and you should follow the advice in step 2.
Not all leather conditioners will waterproof leather, so make sure you read all the details about the conditioner you will be using.
To apply a conditioner, start by gently wiping the surface of the leather with a soft, damp cloth to remove any dirt or dust.
Then use a soft, dry lint-free cloth to gently massage the conditioner into the leather using small circular motions. Try to get an even coat over the entire surface of the leather, and remember that a little goes a long way.
You should only be conditioning the surface of your leather, not the insides or linings of your wallets and bags.
Leave the conditioner on for 15 minutes and wipe off any excess. Then let it dry in an airy room for several hours or overnight.
6) How to properly store your leather accessories
It’s ideal to store leather somewhere darker with some humidity. This way direct sunlight won’t affect its colors and a little bit of humidity will keep the leather from drying out.
Leather also needs ventilation to prevent mildew and rot. It needs to breathe just like our skin.
Air helps any moisture evaporate naturally, so it’s important not to seal up leather goods or store them in airtight spaces. For example, never store or transport leather goods in a plastic bag.
Breathable fabric is the best option for storing larger accessories like shoes or purses. You can either use the dustbag the item came with or a pillow case.
Leather goods mold to your shape over time, so you should stuff your unused purses and bags to hold their shape. Avoid over-stuffing purses and wallets because once they are misshapen, the leather will not go back to its original form.
You can use bubble wrap or parchment paper as stuffing, but never use newspaper because the ink printed on the paper will smear onto the leather.
You will need a good routine to care for your leather goods. It could be as easy as these three steps:
- Wipe down leather with a damp cloth 1 to 2 times every week, depending on how often you use it and if there is any dirt or dust build up.
- Condition leather every 3 to 6 months, or more depending on the environment and how often you use it.
- Store leather in darker places with good ventilation and a little humidity.
You will need the following supplies:
- Soft, clean microfiber cloth
- Leather conditioner
- Parchment paper or bubble wrap
- Dust bag (or pillowcase)
Thank you for reading
I hope this answers a lot of questions for you and leaves you more informed about how to make your leather goods last a lifetime. It is only natural if you have more questions or concerns, as the information provided here is just the basics on this topic.
If you would like to know more about how to properly care for your leather items, feel free to email me at Liz.Chasse@Smoke-N-Mirrors.net or check out our other articles to read more about other leather topics: