Hobbyist leather care

Owning leather can be something to own that is functional. Like leather gloves in the winter. You can also learn to care for your leather gear. Sometimes people buy something but don’t put thought into the care. 

My friends in services like the military can tell you so much about caring for leather. Your boots are part of your life line.

I have been caring for and treating leather for a long time. Not sure where the interest came from. 

To care for leather there are many steps to keep it in good condition.

If they are going to care for leather you will need a kit.

A basic kit can run you $50 sometimes less or possibly many times more. Being a person in the art of leather care many ask “can you fix this up?” 

Someone that does leather care is often referred to as a bootblack or shoeshine. In earlier days they were much more in demand. When things were created by a cobbler or leatherworker. Before mass production. The world used to be built on craft. People did not have much disposable income so more care was taken to preserve what you had. 

Things to include in your kit. (I keep mine in my little leather bag with many pockets) I have a dream of getting a really nice wooden bigger kit, maybe with cherry wood design and a handle. Wood art would be such a great addition for my leather care.

  • A brush to brush of heavy dirt.
  • Soft brushes (there are many kinds of brushes)
  • Toothbrush to get into the seams and stitching.
  • Clothes that you don’t care if they get dirty
  • Scissors cut of loose threads
  • A lighter for frays, heating wax
  • A spirit cleaner like rubbing alcohol
  • A good conditioner ( I have Huberd’s) I have used others and will buy more. 
  • Saddle soap (I have read that using this can strip the oils)
  • Dye 
  • Polish
  • I keep extra laces and paracord. (Great if something breaks on a nature walk.)
  • Non abrasive cleaner.
  • Tooth picks 
  • Round nail care sticks ( great for poking mud or grunge from the eyelets)
  • Small bowl for water
  • Spray bottle with water
  • I also have a waterproof washable drop cloth.

When you start a leather piece you want to clean it first, brush off excess loose dirt and grime. The brushes to use will depend on what leather piece is being worked on. If it is a soft leather like sheep skin you will not want to use anything coarse. If it is a saddle or boots a firmer bush might be a better choice. If you are unsure, the internet has lots of information. You are always better to err on the side of caution. Identifying leather before you start

You can clean almost any leather, from your furniture to animal gear bags and garments.

Clean it with leather safe soap like casters soap or saddle soap is a good choice. You do not want to wet the leather for long so clean it and dry it. Some leather, especially softer leather will get water marks. So try to keep the cleaning even.

If you are  dyeing an item completely or doing touch ups you want to go with professional grade leather dye. They will bleed less. My friend gave me that great tip. You might also want to wear disposable gloves. Dyeing is not always needed, sometimes just a good polish will do all you need it too. Dyeing can be very messy, not something you want to do without a drop cloth that stuff will wreck things if splattered or spilled.

This is a project a family member took on. Looks so good. You must set aside many
hours for a project this big. Before is to the right,

If you use dye let it dry then you can condition.

 Conditioning is a very personal choice, I have had the opportunity to use a variety of products. Things like mink oil or other animal products, or a bee based conditioner, depending what you are conditioning and what results you want. There are mixed feelings about products.  

One thing I do is take before, during and after photos. 

The shoe on the left is finished. Photo by me.

If I’m doing garments or boots for others the photos are very key to doing lacing the same way. People value when you take the time to return things with the same lace pattern.

I hope you have fun cleaning your leather, if you have questions please leave me a comment. Would also love to read your tips on leather care. I always have room to learn. Have a good week. 

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