Leather Care process

With so many different leather cleaners and care products on the market, it’s difficult to know which one to choose.

To find the answer, it’s important to consider the type of leather and the tanning process used. This will influence the quantity of skin (45-75%), tannins (8-45%), fat (1-25%), dyes and pigments (up to 3%), and moisture (8-15%).

In addition to the moisture chemically bound in the fibres, leather absorbs moisture from the air and any care products applied to it.  

 Over exposure to sunlight or heat sources can completely dry out the fibres. This moisture can never be replaced or reintroduced with the use of care products. It is also important to know that applying more of any care product does not necessarily increase the lifespan of leather. Using less product more frequently is the best way. More care product will be required if the leather is incorrectly stored or has never been treated at all.

 

...with this in mind, we can now look at the different types of products.

 

  Suede   Pink Fur   Semi-aniline leather

Leather milk

This is usually a low-viscosity emulsion of water and fats/oils, which is given a uniform texture with the aid of an emulsifier and can be easily applied to the leather with a soft cloth. It may also contain UV filters and antioxidants to prevent fading.

Leather care cream 

Leather care cream works in the same way as leather milk. But, because it has a higher viscosity, it will not penetrate as deep into the leather.

Dubbin 

This is most suitable for shoes and saddles, provided that the leather is pigmented, i.e non-porous. Dubbin has strong water-repellent (hydrophobic) properties and a natural moisturizing effect. It is generally recommended more for leather used outdoors. Because of its high moisturizing action, dubbin should only be applied to aged leather in cars and on furniture.

Leather oil

This has similar water-repellent and moisturising properties to leather wax.  However, as it is a liquid it will penetrate more than any solid wax. Therefore, when dealing with old, dry and hard leathers that need a lot of moisture - leather oil would be the best choice (also important for soles of shoes). Again, this is not recommended for porous leather (Aniline, suede etc).

Leather balsam

Resins and waxes, such as beeswax are used in the preparation of leather balsam. It is commonly used to provide a waterproof, dirt repellent coating to pigmented leathers, especially those used outdoors. It is not recommended for car leather.  

Leather waterproof products

Waterproof sprays should not be confused with leather care products. Most of the suede protector sprays on the market only make suede waterproof. But suede, nubuck and very sensitive aniline leather need more care. In particular, oils to keep them soft and protect against bleaching. Treating only with waterproof sprays can make the leather dry and brittle over time.

Having developed a substantial range of leather care products and following years of experience, it should be noted again that there isn’t one product that is suitable for all types of leather. The condition and use of the leather plays a big role in determining the most suitable product. Each type of leather is coloured differently. Some leathers are smooth, others rough, some have shine and others are matt. Exposure to weather is also a factor. Plus you have to distinguish between new and old leathers.

 

Colourlock Suede & Nubuck kit   Colourlock Elephant Leather Preserver    Colourlock Vinyl clean & care Kit  

Recommended products:

  • We believe there is no such thing as a best product for leather, but only the right care product for a particular leather or a special leather problem. As advised, have a good read and check your leather to determine which product will be suited for each type of leather and use.

Top Tips

 

  • ·First check the leather, whether it is absorbent or non-absorbent. Rub a drop of water in a hidden area. In absorbent  leathers (aniline leather or suede) water penetrates and darkens the leather. For non-absorbent leathers water runs off. Absorbent leathers are more sensitive and inappropriate products can cause stains. Hence, testing first and choosing the appropriate product is essential.
  • Regular cleaning and maintenance of furniture leathers prevents staining and significantly increases the life of the leather.
  • Always let the leather dry by itself, not with a hairdryer or under direct sunlight. The leather may shrink otherwise.
  • When applying care products on a large area, always work from seam to seam. Do not try to remove spots that are drawn into the leather by vigorous rubbing. The surface can be further damaged.
  • Never try to remove stains with strong solvents (acetone, nail polish remover, turpentine, etc.) There is a risk of causing further stains or additional damage.
  • Do not treat the leather with unsuitable products, such as using shoe polish for furniture leather, cosmetic cream, pastes etc.
  • Direct sunlight or sources of heat can cause leather to fade and dry out. Bright or light coloured leather runs the risk of dye transfer. Clean immediately and apply a suitable product to prevent further damage.
  • React quickly to any damages (scratches, abrasions, stains, fading, colour damage etc.) The earlier and quicker these issues are dealt with, the longer the leather will last. Often customers ask for help far too late.
  • Leather has an optimum humidity of 40 to 60% and needs a good flow of air. When humidity is above 70% and the airflow is low, the leather is liable to get mouldy. So ensure you store it correctly.