How to take care of your leathergoods
Covid-19 has meant a great increase in the use of disenfectant products and we use a number of lotions and sprays to protect us from the elements all year round. Chemicals found in everyday products can leave marks on leather and have them wear prematurely.
Many hand sanitisers for example, contain ethanol, a simple type of alcohol, which can break the exterior treatment on your leathergoods and cause discoloration. High SPF sun lotions contain a good quantities of titanium oxide. This also can react with natural oils found in leather. Insect repellents contain another harmful chemical which could wear leather too.
Just like our skin, leather doesn't like long periods of contact with alcohol and harmful chemicals: avoid contact with hand saniter, sun lotion, perfumes, insect repellants and any product containing alcohol or harsh chemicals, including cosmetics.
In case of contact with any substance, dab with a clean cloth as soon as possible to remove as much as possible. It's important here to blot and not wipe, to avoid spreading the contaminant further. If there is still some residue, you can now try dampening a clean part of the cloth lightly, and repeat to then go over again with dry clean cloth, and that should reduce spots and damage.
If that doesn't work, corn starch or baking soda have proven successful with sun lotion for example. Rubbing either one on the spot and letting it rest overnight should take out contaminants that the leather has absorbed: you'll know if they have turned yellow in the morning. brush it off and repeat if needed. Or, you could use a specific leather cleaner, which is more aggressive, but might just be what's needed in most cases. For non pigmented leather, a neutral/water-based nourishing cream - usually white in colour - can help: apply it with a soft cloth to penetrate the leather, thus diluting the stain edges and reducing its appearance.
Just make sure, whatever leather product you use, that is formulated for your type of leather, and test on a small area first. Either way, once the stain has hopefully gone away, don't forget to apply some leather conditioner.
FULL GRAIN LEATHER
It's a good idea to use a leather cleaner and apply a specific leather conditioner regularly, depending on frequency of use, even on stingray skin, but always ensure the suitability of the product for your specific leather (for example an exotic friendly leather cleaner for your stingray cardholder) and test first. Some products might darken colours slightly as soon as applied: original colour will restore after a few days or even as soon as they dry (once again, let id dry in a cool place away from sunlight!).
The goat leather we use for our small accessories is made for mostly careless use, while being treated respectfully: handboarded, vegetable tanned, dyed through at the targeted surface colour and finished for best durability. This combination also makes it waterproof and reduces the appearance of scratches. Similarly, exotic leather is generally quite resistant, with stingray skin being the strongest. For some of our leathergoods we use top quality handboarded leather, where no pygment is applied on the surface: this means a more natural leather to the look and touch. However, this type of leather is not as resistant and requires a bit more attention and care.
NUBUCK AND SUEDE
These require less maintenance generally, but will absorb more from spillage. That's why applying a leather protector specifically designed for suede or nubuck is beneficial. To clean, stroke gently with a soft clean cloth, then brush in the direction of the nap to maintain the softness that characterises these types of leather.
You should store all your leather products in a cool and dry place when unused and avoid all contact with large amounts water, as well as placing it away from heatsources or under the sun for long periods. Paper or cloth will make sure your precious leathergoods can breath and are protected from elements that could damage it - including sometimes other leathers, depending on how they have been treated, so it's always best to wrap them individually! Also make sure your leathergoods are well dried before you store them away to prevent the formation of mould.