When should I use leather conditioner?
Leather is a natural material. Despite the tanning process, leather will still contain a certain amount of natural oils and moisture. Overtime, due to use and the elements, leather will begin to lose that moisture.
When leather dries up, it becomes less flexible and prone to crack. Once it begins to crack, there isn’t much you can do to bring it back.
Head off leather breakdowns with a high quality leather care regimen! This regimen will increase the life of your favorite leather items, with just a little cleaning and conditioning.
What does leather conditioner do?
Leather conditioner keeps your leather goods safe and sound from the inside out.
By conditioning your leather, you help maintain the pliability of the leather so that it resists squeaking and cracking. Depending on the conditioner, it may also help create a protective layer on the leather’s surface to resist staining, scratches, and damage.
What is leather conditioner made of?
That depends on the conditioner you choose. Here at The Leather Guy, we’re big fans of two conditioners in particular; Smith’s and Moobuzz.
MooBuzz uses beeswax to protect and pure neatsfoot oil to condition. It is soft to the touch and spreads on easily. It has no discernible scent.
Smith’s Leather Balm uses beeswax to protect and organic cocoa butter to condition. It is a harder balm that you can easily warm up with your hands. It has a slight scent that reminds me of chocolate on account of the cocoa butter and almond oil.
Both of these balms are safe to apply with your hands. The beeswax creates a layer of buildable protection helping to make your items more water-resistant. The conditioning agents penetrate the leather to moisturize and soften the leather.
How should I apply a Leather Conditioner?
First things first, if you’re trying a new conditioner for the first time, apply it to a less noticeable spot on your boots, bags, etc. and let it dry to make sure you like the effect it has on your leather.
You’ll want to start by cleaning your leather. This doesn’t need to be an intensive process. A clean rag or a brush will quickly remove large debris from your leather item.
Unless your leather goods are dusty and filthy, like the picture to the left. Then you will need to use a proper leather cleaner first.
Once your leather is clean and dry, start with a small amount of your conditioner. Both Smith’s and Moobuzz are safe to apply by hand, so you can massage that balm right in. If you don’t want your hands to get a little oily, go ahead and use a clean, soft cloth.
Once the balm is absorbed and dried, give your leather item a quick buff with a clean cloth, and you’re done! Easy as that.
Always spot check your conditioner on a small, hidden area of your leather to make sure you like the results.
How often should I use leather conditioner?
Once every six months should be enough. A Spring/Fall schedule may be best. In the spring, you can clean and remove any salt or build up from the winter and get your leather goods ready for storage or the long, hot days of summer. In the fall, you get to treat your items to a little R&R after the warm weather and prep them for the cold weather ahead.
However, if you have an item that is regularly in the sun, in a very dry climate, or even just used for more heavy duty work, you may need to condition it a bit more often to keep it at its best.
If you notice that your leather begins to lighten in color or become less flexible, that’s a good time to treat it with some conditioner.
Be careful not to condition too often though, as this can lead to leather that feels tacky or sticky.
What leathers can I condition?
Let’s start off by clarifying suede and nubuck should never be treated with a regular conditioner. You will ruin them unless you use products made specifically for them.This goes for dyes, cleaners, and protectants.
Leathers with a heavy finish (like patent or metallic) cannot be conditioned as the finish will not allow the product through. Leather like this will do better with a polish to keep them clean and looking their best.
Vegetable Tanned and Oil Tanned leather respond best to conditioners. They generally are not treated with a finish (unless the maker decides to do so) and are receptive to conditioners applied to the surface. Many well made shoes, bags, and accessories are made from some type of these leathers.
As you can see, leather care can be fairly simple and straightforward. Always be sure to check with manufacturers if you are ever unsure about what products to use. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction. A natural conditioner can do a world of good when applied properly. Make sure your leather goods stick around for the long haul.