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When buying leather, the best thing you can do is ask the people who you buy it from, what the manufacturer recommends for leather care and cleaning. Don't forget to ask what other products may work well for leather care too, as there may be something you're more comfortable using. Also ask what the product does to and for the leather.
While still alive, leather on the animal, fish, or fowl is maintained in situ. (It's their skin) The oils that keep leather conditioned and help remove dirt and grime from the skin of the animal are produced naturally by their body.
Once leather is processed, these "living" components cease to exist although they do retain many of their physical characteristics such as leather's porous nature and chemical reactivity. Leather is naturally acidic so anything alkaline is bad. For proper leather care, you want to mimic some of these natural processes. If you sift through all of the mythology, home recipes, and good ol' folk lore about leather care, you are left with the two basic tasks that all those natural processes accomplished: cleaning and conditioning.
Any leather care enthusiast will tell you that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and if you want to protect your investment keep it in top form. Leather care is relatively easy but you need to be consistent. Leather can be restored, but regular maintenance is highly recommended. If cared for properly, your leather will last and stay in good shape for years.
You want to know the type of leather you have, as well as the way it was processed during tanning. For example, were any anti-mold finishes applied or was a sealant used, and how was it colored, if it was. Keep in mind that aniline, suede, and nubuck are not as robust as pigmented leather because they do not usually have a protective surface coating.
Pigmented leather is the most durable, full grain pigmented leather has intact grain, and corrected grain pigmented leather refers to whether or not the leather has been sanded to remove imperfections.
This top-grain or full-top grain leather is not pigmented, just dyed whereas semi-aniline treatments combine pigment with dye, usually to even out the grain because the leather has some imperfections. The result is that the leather has a more consistent color and some stain resistance qualities.
If you lightly scratch the surface of aniline, it will turn a lighter color. Some nubuck leather will do the same thing. To correct the problem, wet your finger lightly and rub it into the leather. It should darken slightly, but dry the same color.
Antiqued / Marbled / Two-Tone
A second pigment may be rubbed over the original pigment to give the leather an aged or antique appearance.
This is aniline leather that has been brushed to give it the texture of velvet. In fact, nubuck is often mistaken for suede. Nubuck is stronger because it is brushed on the grain side, which is the side where the animal's hair was, where suede is made from the flesh side. If you apply the wet finger test to nubuck, it will darken slightly and dry darker so be sure if you do this that it is done in an inconspicuous area.
Pull-up, also referred to as waxy or oil pull-up is leather that lightens in color when stretched during wearing, creating a broken-in appearance.
Suede leather is made from the fleshy side of hide. For leather care of suede, it is important you make sure any product you use won't damage it. Find out as much as you can about the active ingredients in the products you buy and the action involved. You might want to bring your jacket with you or a swatch if you can, and ask what would work best for it.
If you schedule leather care and cleaning you won't end up with a jacket that looks like someones cast off. I suggest scheduling a cleaning at least once a year or so. (Mark it in your daytimer)
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MORE RESOURCES updated Tue. September / 26 / 2023
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