An Introduction to Cleaning Leather, and Leather Conditioners
If you’re looking for a classic leather bag or leather wallet that is stylish, timeless and durable, you’re in the right place. But, to ensure that the investment you make in your leather bag stands the test of time as it’s designed to, it’s important that you care for and properly clean your real leather products to maintain their quality.
Whether you’re investing in a real leather bag or briefcase for yourself or a loved one, we’re on hand to make sure that you know what products you need to maintain it and exactly how and when you can use a leather conditioner to protect your real leather bag and keep it looking great!
What is Leather Conditioner?
Stylish and practical leather products are an investment, which is why looking after them is well worth the time and money spent on high-quality products.
A leather conditioner is designed to be used whenever you think your leather is beginning to look dull or dry. Leather conditioner acts in the same way a moisturiser would on the skin, the leather absorbs the moisture and reduces dryness, enhancing its overall appearance and protecting it.
Leather conditioner can be in the form of a cream, wax or oil and will usually contain natural oils like mink oil and lanolin oil to create softening properties. Traditionally leather conditioners were much more wax-based, but the use of beeswax is much more rare now in leather conditioners than it used to be, with many companies using synthetic alternatives and sacrificing the natural qualities we historically saw in leather conditioners.
The conditioner that we often recommend contains a special blend of seed oils, lipids and beeswax to give it excellent softening and conditioning qualities, it’s also available in our store, so if you’re buying a suave leather bag as a gift, you can also help keep it looking fresh.
How to use Leather Conditioner to Clean Leather
Cleaning real leather with a leather conditioner is really quite simple and can be done every 6 to 12 months to keep your real leather bag protected and looking great.
Firstly, you should understand what type of leather your bag is, as some leather conditioners will not be suitable for sensitive leathers like suede or pull-up leather. At The Real Leather Company, we use full-grain leather and top grain leather to ensure our real leather bags are strong and they look great, which is why many of our customers choose our recommended leather conditioner when they buy high-quality leather bags from us.
We always recommend that you use proper leather conditioners rather than homemade DIY alternatives like vinegars and acidic washes. Not only can these damage your real leather products, but often these solutions can be just as expensive and even more time consuming than using real leather conditioners designed to protect your leather bag.
Step 1: Cleaning Real Leather
Before you use a leather conditioner, you should ensure that the surface of your real leather bag is clean.
Removing dirt or dust is easy enough. Wipe down your leather with a soft, slightly damp cloth and use a very soft brush on any more stubborn stains or grooves. We recommend against using harsh chemical cleaners or abrasive cloths on your real leather to avoid scratching. Leave your real leather bag to dry overnight and then lightly wipe with a dry cloth to remove any remaining residue.
Step 2: Using Leather Conditioner
Once the surface of your real leather bag is clean, you can apply your leather conditioner. Apply a small amount of leather conditioner onto a lint-free cloth. In a circular motion, gently moisturise the formula into the real leather until the leather bag is fully coated. At this point, the leather will start to absorb the conditioner and this will start to moisturise and revitalize the material.
If you are unsure about the leather conditioner product you are using, or whether the type of leather might be sensitive, you could try applying a small amount to an unseen area of the leather bag and leaving it for 24 hours to see how the material reacts.
Step 3: Drying your Bag with Leather Conditioner on
After you have applied your leather conditioner, you should leave your real leather bag to dry for 1 hour. Once it has dried, you are able to apply more coats if needed. You should then let your real leather cure for 24 hours.
Why You Should Use a Leather Conditioner
Real leather is a durable and sophisticated material. Its use for holdalls, backpacks and briefcases is a testament to its value as an investment in style and practicality. Whether you’re using your bag for travel, a getaway with the guys, or a romantic break, real leather travel bags see a lot of adventure. This heavy use of real leather products does however mean that they can start to look a bit dirty, which is why cleaning and conditioning your real leather bag is extremely important.
1. Leather conditioning strengthens and moisturises your leather.
Leather conditioner is absorbed into the fabric of the bag and will help to strengthen the surface and give it additional protection like weatherproofing. Whilst real leather is naturally strong, keeping it clean and conditioned will help to even further increase its lifespan. Well maintained real leather products can last for decades.
It is often advised to try and keep leather dry wherever possible, so this extra layer of protection can be key to getting the most from your real leather bag (and if it does get wet, you should always let it dry naturally, not using a heat source, to prevent damage and misshaping.)
2. Leather conditioners improve the appearance of real leather.
It is a popular opinion that real, high-quality leather looks even better with age – the rugged creases in leather make it an excellent, long-lasting product. But, weathering and constant use can have an impact on its overall appearance. Maintaining your real leather bag with leather conditioner regularly can help to keep it looking good by adding oils to the fabric and giving it moisture and softness in the same way as a moisturiser on your own skin would. This makes the ageing of your real leather product even better because you know it’s being cared for and rather than looking messy, it will age like a fine wine.
3. Leather conditioner strengthens your real leather bag.
Whether you’re applying a leather conditioner in cream, wax or oil form, you will see benefits in the superior weatherproofing of your real leather product. The leather itself is a strong and flexible material and as it ages, the strength holds up well when compared to many other materials. You can help it to last even longer by regularly cleaning and conditioning your real leather to help strengthen the material and protect it from watermarks and stains that can happen when you’re regularly using your leather bag.
It is common now to see cheap and replaceable faux leather bags and wallets. As well as not ageing as well as real leather, these products contain plastics and often have a lacquered finish that will make conditioning the leather essentially pointless. The conditioning serum will not be able to be absorbed by the material as it should be. All of our products are real leather (it’s in the name) so the breathable and natural leather material will be able to properly absorb conditioners and this will contribute to the longevity of the real leather product, and make your investment long-lasting and worthwhile.
The Best Real Leather Conditioner in 2022
Now we’ve gone over why leather cleaners and conditioners are absolutely essential, you’re probably wondering, what is the best leather conditioner?
Well we have a clear #1 for your new leather bag.
For our bestselling real leather bags, we think there is a standout winner for the best leather conditioner. This Leather Cream is the perfect product for protecting your real leather bag or briefcase, and it’s available in 4oz or 10oz tins. We even sell it alongside our real leather bags so that you can easily add it to your basket and ensure that your real leather bag will be protected from the get-go.
This leather conditioning cream is handmade in the USA .As well as offering great weatherproofing and long-lasting protection, the cream is made from all-natural ingredients including beeswax, seed oils and lipids, making it the perfect addition to any leather bag, whether its a gift or a treat to yourself.