Softening Is Not Enough
Leather is a skin, with fibers and pores, that requires proper natural
lubrication and needs to breathe. Because it no longer has a body to
provide proper natural oils, we must provide these oils for it. The key to
extending the useful life of your leather is restoring it with proper
oils. But not all "natural" oils are proper for leather
care. Unfortunately, many products claiming to be conditioners or
preservatives are not. They contain harmful chemicals, mink oil,
petroleum, pine tar, or alcohol to soften or waterproof leather. They
soften by weakening or decomposing the fibers and they waterproof by
sealing the pores. They're low priced but definitely not economical when
you consider the damage done to fibers, stitching, and glues. Ironically,
these "preservatives" actually shorten the useful life of your
True preservatives are natural and may cost a little bit more, but they
are your best protection. They last longer and do so much more to preserve
and protect that they're actually the most economical way to treat your
Let It Breathe
We wear leather because it breathes and we stay comfortable. Never seal it
off unless absolutely necessary! When pores are sealed the leather cannot
breathe and you'll sweat like wearing rubber. Sealed leather is
uncomfortable, stinks, and body acids, bacteria, and salt rot it from the
inside out. Try wrapping your arm in cellophane wrap for a few hours to
get a better understanding of what "sealing" your leather goods
does to them, or imagine painting pine pitch or tar on your skin and
sealing off the pores in this fashion. You can repel water easily and
longer, resist chemicals, stay comfortable, and extend the useful life of
your leather without sealing the pores. Simply extend the tanning process
by regularly restoring the leather with proper natural oils.
Dry Weather Ruins Leather
Leather is damaged more by dryness, loss of oils, then by water. It's
true, water washes leather oils out fast and it causes it to dry out stiff
and hard. But leather oils also dissipate every day when it's dry, even
when it's not being used. Like your skin, it simply dries out. Wind, warm
air (floorboard heaters), dust, chemicals, mud, and normal wear (flexing)
increase the rate of oil loss. Dry fibers scuff easily, wear against each
other, get brittle, and break prematurely causing cracks in your leather.
Dry leather also cuts stitching and is prone to dry rot. SOLUTION: Do
not let the fibers dry out, keep them lubed with proper oils. The
frequency with which you must treat your leather depends on your usage,
conditions, age, and type of leather. If it appears dry and is scuffing,
it's past due. If it's going to get wet, oil it ahead of time.
Be Careful With Silicone
Water-based silicone can be sprayed on leather, as well as
fabrics, for additional waterproofing. It will not harm it, but it will
not preserve it. You still need to restore proper oils into the leather and then
you can spray over it periodically. Be very careful to avoid silicones
with warning labels, especially aerosols, that contain harmful chemicals
as carriers. They're harmful to you, your environment, and your leather.
Paying attention to the following Leather Care Guidelines can pay off in
longer lasting leather.
maximum Leather Preservative protection on your boots, apply a second
or third coat.
leather preservative for easier application and/or use a hair dryer
after application for faster and better penetration.
Temperatures over 100°F can harm your
rub Leather Preservative on inside leather.
mud before it draws the oils out.
better and easier to apply a liberal protective coat of leather
preservative prior to exposure, than trying to restore leather after
Firefighter's Trick: Set your boots in a plastic bag in the sun after
a liberal application of Heavy Duty Leather Preservative.
leather before storing