How Do You Make Leather Last Forever?

Whenever we buy a new leather piece, we make a little deal with it.

Here’s how it goes:  If we give a little effort to take care of it, the leather belt or wallet or handbag, shoes or couch or auto interior, is going to work like it’s supposed to — and one day become even better than when we bought it.

This deal might last for years, and in some cases generations.

Nothing lasts forever, but leather is one of those things that can last a very, very long time with minimal effort. You don’t have to baby it. You can get rough with it. You can even neglect it from time to time. That’s one of the things about leather we love so much.

If you want your leather to last as long as it can, here are a few things you can do.

1. Don’t let leather stay wet

We love leather because it keeps us dry. Good leather boots or a nice leather jacket are like armor against puddles and rain. But leather will, in fact, absorb moisture, so it’s important to dry leather after it gets wet — blot it and then let it air dry.

Never let leather sit in water, and here’s why.

When your leather gets soaked, it’s prone to shrinkage; the dense fibers that make up the leather can start to weaken.

When your leather goods get wet, best to blot up as much of the moisture as possible, then put them in a place where they can dry properly.

user drying leather hand blot wet leather

2. Don’t let leather too close to artificial heat

Especially extreme heat, like the kind from a space heater or heat vent. Hot, hot heat will disfigure leather, just like skin. Heat can also discolor leather.

If we’re talking about leather furniture, keeping it in a spot with frequent sunlight exposure will lead to discoloration. If you want your leather color to stay consistent, keep it out of direct sunlight.

3. Fix damaged leather right away

If you made an investment into high-quality leather, fix it when it breaks or tears to keep it from going too far.

Unrepaired damage will simply get worse. Fixing it right away puts your favorite leather piece back together, back in action and gives you the chance to extend its life, quite possibly just as long as it would have if it hadn’t been damaged in the first place.

wallet repair using sewing machine to fix stitching

4. Clean your leather

Maybe not leather wallets and belts, but just about everything else so often. But you should clean leather bags, jackets, boots, vehicle upholstery and furniture as often as they need it or at least every six months.

Use a soft bristle brush to sweep away dirt and grime. For stickier grime, use a damp cloth and then let it air dry.

cleaning leather boots with bristle brush

5. Treat your leather with conditioner

If you’ve ever felt amazing after a facial or even just a hot shower and some Aveeno, this next part should make sense. Your leather loves a little extra care. You should condition it every once in a while.

Use a conditioner that’s best suited for the leather. Indeed, you wouldn’t want to use shoe polish on a suede Flop Over Crossbody Bag. Make sure to care for suede regularly to make this leather last forever.

While you should research your specific leather type, here are our recommendations for conditioners to use, based on what type of leather you’re treating.

A word of caution: using any conditioner will likely change the color of your leather, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Just make sure you apply conditioner evenly so the color change happens everywhere.

Full grain belts and wallets

Dr. Jackson’s Hide Rejuvenator is a versatile conditioner that’s perfect for smooth wallets and belts. We like it so much, we stock it for our customers. Clean your items once roughly every six months and apply some of this stuff to moisturize and protect your leather.

hide rejuvenator product sitting next to a belt

For general cleaning and conditioning, which you should do roughly every six months or so, we love Leather Amore.

Suede and nubuck bags, jackets and shoes

If you get nothing else from this moment, remember that you must treat suede and nubuck differently than other leathers.

The best conditioners and cleaners — which do amazing things for full grain and top grain leather — will damage suede and nubuck leather and flatten its velvety finish. Suede leather is sturdy and durable like other leathers, but if you want to keep that soft look and feel, you’re going to have to work harder.

You can use white vinegar and water with a clean cloth to remove stains. Use a nail file to buff out tougher stains, but you don’t want to do much more than that. You might try sprinkling a little baking soda or cornstarch on the stain and letting it sit overnight then brush it off vigorously.

You should never condition suede.

kit for cleaning suede purse

Top grain leather furniture and vehicle upholstery

Couches and vehicle upholstery take one heck of a beating. Chemical Guys makes an all purpose cleaner and all purpose conditioner you can use on upholstery — including your leather couch and leather vehicle seats.

You can find both products on the Chemical Guys website, check out the cleaner here and the conditioner here.

For any additional questions on how to make leather last forever please reach out to us via phone or email!