How to clean and protect leather


image showing someone cleaning a leather wallet with a cloth

There’s something incredibly charismatic about a genuine, handcrafted leather product. Natural scars stand proud, every wrinkle tells an exciting tale, its unique hue a testament to adventures with its owner. Here at Colville Leather, we’re strong believers that such splendour deserves fitting care and attention. We’ve got to love our leather products!  Knowing how to clean and protect leather is essential to really get the best from it. Taking care of your leather products can be bit of a balancing act though, as it’s easy to go wrong if you’re overzealous with the cleaning products. Here we want to take the stress out of your leather care routine, with some top tips on how to clean and protect your leather accessories.

Regular cleaning is key

With some simple maintenance, you can keep your leather looking strong and healthy, and protect the features that are so wonderfully characteristic of genuine leather products. Without a regular clean, leather can become dirty, odorous and even damaged.

image of handcrafted leather belt from Colville Leather

For best results, we recommend giving your leather accessories a wipe-down with a damp, lukewarm cloth every 6 months or so if needed. Your bags, belts and even smaller items like wallets quickly accumulate dirt, dust and other spoiling particles that can contribute to premature wear and tear. Fear not though, for you can confront these crafty culprits by cleaning your accessories. It’s important to thoroughly ring out the cloth first, else you risk saturating the leather and damaging your product. Once clean, always allow the leather to dry completely before use or further treatment (we’d advise giving it 24 hours).

Keep it moisturised

We’d recommend treating leather with a very small amount of conditioner or oil. You can use olive oil, mink oil, Neatsfoot oil or a natural leather conditioner. These contain moisture and other important ingredients that protect the leather from drying out by keeping the fibres supple. To be safe, you can do a spot-test on an unseen part of the leather before applying the product to the whole surface. Leave it for a day or so just to check there’s no unwanted reaction. When you’re ready to apply the oil or conditioner, gently rub it into your leather accessory with a lint-free cloth. Remember that any oil or conditioning products must be used sparingly, as there is a risk you could over-saturate the leather, resulting in a greasy feel. Leave the leather to air-dry for another 24 hours, allowing the product to soak in properly.

image showing neatsfoot oil for cleaning Colville Leather's leather goods

Colville Leather recommends applying these care products every six months to a year, but this is something that depends on your own unique use. If you wish to speed up the ageing process of the leather, you can treat it more regularly (every 3-5 months), but be aware that the process is irreversible! 

Protecting your leather accessories

We’ve taken a look at how best to clean and condition leather, but what steps can you take to help protect it from the elements? Here are some simple tips you can use to help keep your leather accessories in top form:

Store them in the right place

Always keep your leather accessories somewhere dry and clean when you’re not using them. For larger items that you might not use as often, dust bags are a handy way of keeping them safe from a blanket of dust. And if you don’t have a dust bag, an old pillowcase will do the trick! Avoid storing leather items in damp and humid environments, as excess water vapour in the air can soak into the leather’s pores and cause mould and mildew to form.

Avoid extreme temperatures

Keep your leather out of the heat, as it can dry out and crack when exposed to high temperatures. Similarly, cold temperatures can also damage the pigmented finish of leather.

Never force-dry

If leather gets wet, it’s very important not to force-dry it by putting it on a radiator or using a hairdryer. This can really damage leather, leaving it hard and brittle. Instead, we’d recommend blotting the leather with a dry cloth or towel and letting it dry naturally in an open area that is normal room temperature, even if this takes a couple of days.  

Colville Leather lifetime warranty

image showing two handcrafted leather wallets by Colville Leather

We believe in the quality of our products so much that, where care instructions are followed, Colville Leather will offer a warranty on the craftsmanship of every item we sell. We also provide a lifetime of support in caring for your leather products, helping you get the most from your lovingly-crafted Colville items.

We hope these cleaning tips will enable you to really get the most from your leather products and enjoy a long-lasting relationship with them. Remember that what you want your leather to look like, as well as the role it plays in your life, will determine the way you clean and protect it. If you have any questions about how to care for your Colville Leather products, feel free to contact us. And if you have any helpful tips on how to clean and protect leather, why not share them with us on social media!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published