Let the rain not ruin your precious leather.
Aren’t we all happy to have respite from the scorching heat now that the rains are here? While you pack away your summer essentials we can’t help, but prod you to have a look at those expensive leather goods you plan on stowing away. The excess humidity in the air during the rainy season will ruin your leather! Worry not Man’s Life is here to free your troubled mind and provide you with nifty tips and tricks to safeguard your precious leather.
A word of caution: From patented and suede to genuine or vegan leather—there are different kinds of leather, so make sure to know which one your favourite shoes or jacket is made from before applying these tips.
1.DRY THEM THE RIGHT WAY
While strutting around in your boots and carrying your leather bags seem to be a fashionable choice, maintaining their quality for the entire rainy season can be daunting. Let’s start easy, shall we? If your leather products are ever exposed to rain, avoid bagging them immediately. Let the shoes or bags or even jackets air dry. Leave them in the open to avoid extra moisture buildup and mould from forming on the leather.
Pro Tip: Stuff the toe of your shoes or bags with paper while air-drying them. It helps in faster absorption of moisture, protecting your shoes.
2. POLISH AND MAKE THEM SHINE
Ever seen your dad diligently polish his leather shoes? Well, polishing isn’t limited to shoes or boots only. Any item made of leather must be polished to maintain its shine and longevity. Never compromise on the quality of polish you use for your leather, it not only shelters it from moisture, but also maintains the natural oil balance.
Pro Tip: Use a wax-based polish for your leather during the monsoon. A mild leather conditioner can work for your bags and jackets.
3. AVOID HARSH HEAT WHILE DRYING
Let’s just say that you do end up getting your leather goods wet, but do not have the time nor the patience to wait for it to air dry. Do not for the love of God, think that pointing a blow-dryer towards it is going to do any good! Excessive heat and leather are not good friends. It leads the leather to dry out, crack and become brittle. The trifecta of bad news for leather. You can get nifty and use an electric fan or invest in multiple pairs of leather items to wear while the other dries.
Pro Tip: If you are like me and have had the experience of drying out actors’ soppy wet leather shoes (no, it wasn’t even raining), you will invest in an electric shoe dryer. Plug it in, shove it inside the shoe and let it do its magic!
4. STORE THEM RIGHT
If you are putting away your leather items for the entire season, do us a favour and wrap it up well in a dust bag to avoid it from getting affected by moisture, mould, colour transfer or dust. Remember those ‘silica sachets’ that come with bags and shoes? They are called desiccant sachets and their sole purpose is to absorb moisture, don’t forget to place them in your storage boxes before you put them away. While putting leather away, remember that the longer you leave it untreated the harder it will get. So take it out in intervals to let the leather breathe.
Pro Tip: Always fill your shoes and bags up before stowing them away, this will help maintain their shape and prevent folding and creasing. If you do decide to put away your leather bags or belts, don’t let them hang around for long, it can wear them out. Roll it up and put it away.
5. MAKE THEM WATERPROOF
What is the one thing we want to avoid this monsoon on our leather? Water! Leather and water are a deadly combination, so before you decide to walk yourself in the rain get them all waterproofed. While using the word ‘waterproof’ with leather may not entirely mean having water ricochet from the surface, what it does do is improve the leathers’ capability of withstanding water. There are plenty of solutions and oils available in the market to help you keep your leather goodies waterproof.
Pro Tip: Avoid using oil-based waterproof solutions without swatching them on a corner of your leather item— they tend to darken the leather. Instead, use silicone-based waterproof sprays to protect your leather from water. If you have suede goods, use products made specifically for suede as the other products might ruin it.
6. DRY CLEANING IS THE WAY TO GO
While all of these seem to be a feasible option, it’s always good to have an expert look into the monsoon leather woes. Have your leather shoes and jackets sent off to a dry cleaner who specialises in leather for the best professional result. If indeed you have no help around trying to clean your shoes to the best of your possibilities. Take a damp cloth (not wet) and slowly start rubbing off the dirt on your shoes. You can use a store-bought leather cleaner as well.
Pro Tip: If you have patented leather that is damaged a quick swish with a lint-free cloth and a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol can cover up the mess. Suedes can be cleaned by holding a hand steamer at least ten inches away from the surface and giving it a light brush.
7. BRUSH AND BUFF THE LEATHER
The ultimate spa regime that your leather goods can go through is a thorough brush and buff. Sometimes despite your best efforts, you end up having the pesky mould growing on your leather. If you see a white powdery substance grow, take a good nylon stiff brush and give it a firm brushing. Once done, dampen your cloth with tea tree oil and rub it across the surface to prevent further growth of mould. After cleaning your leather it is always recommended to apply lanolin-(wool grease) based conditioner that will replace the natural oils lost with daily wear. Always moisturise your leather, treat it like your skin—don’t leave it dry and without product. While your leather is slightly damp, apply the product in a circular motion with a clean, dry cloth. Leave it to dry overnight.
Pro Tip: If you fail to get your hand on any tree tea oil, you can make your own mould cleaning agent at home. Take half parts of water and half parts of white vinegar, vinegar is a natural fungicide. Use it instead of tree tea oil, make sure you do not leave your leather soaking wet. Damp is how you need it.
8. USE SHOE TREES
While this tip is specifically for shoes only, it’s the most helpful for your footwear. Moisture tends to wrinkle and crease the leather shoes along with constant wear. Using a shoe tree is an ideal solution to maintaining the shape and structure of the shoe. Basically prevent it from falling apart on you. So while you keep your shoes to dry after it is damp or post-cleaning, use a shoe tree to help the shoes dry evenly and retain their shape.
Pro Tip: On a regular day your feet produce a quarter cup of moisture, now imagine that on a humid rainy day! Try using a classic cedar shoe tree to tackle this issue. A cedar shoe tree acts as a natural deodorant—and helps draw moisture out as well. You’ll have non-wrinkled, stink-proof shoes!
Leather is durable and has a long shelf life, provided you take good care of it! You may find that after using these tips and tricks on your old leather goods you will be left with something that shines and looks stellar. That’s the beauty of good quality leather, they are like cats—they do have nine lives!
[All Images Credit: Shutterstock]