If your favorite way to stay warm when the weather cools down is by wrapping your fingers in leather gloves, zipping you body up in a leather jacket with Leather for Belt, and lacing up your leather boots, you also know this luxe material is intimidating to care for — until now. Here's everything you need to know about keeping your leather clothing in tip-top shape — and cleaning up scratches and faded color after a little wear and tear (it happens):
1. Protect your clothing before you wear it.
Prevention is the best form of protection, says Carolyn Forte, director of the Cleaning Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute: "Treating leather and suede regularly helps them look their best." Our recommendation? Try Kiwi's Protect-All.
2. Then, reapply protection at least every three months.
Or more often if it's a particularly nasty season (will the snow ever melt!?).
3. Select your cleaning method based on the item's value.
While Forte says all leather is cleaned the same (more on that below) she doesn't believe you should treat all items equally: "Smaller things are generally less expensive and easier to spot clean at home, but I wouldn't do a jacket or pair of pants myself." Instead, she says to take your more expensive items to a professional.
4. Take your time when going the DIY route.
With smooth leather, slow and steady wins the race. Carefully rub in mild soap or leather cleanser onto your item with a damp paper towel, let it sit several seconds, then wipe it clean. Let it air dry afterwards (away from direct heat) and use a leather conditioner to moisturize. However, at the first sign of color bleeding or fading you should stop what you're doing and take your item to a pro.
5. And always spot-test before you start.
To make sure your cleaning products and method are a match with your leather, test it out on a hidden spot first — like inside the hand opening on a glove.
6. Don't forget water drastically changes leather.
According to Forte, the biggest mistake people make when caring for leather clothing is getting it too wet, then rubbing the material too hard. "Leather is delicate, especially when wet and the color can come off easily," Forte says, so don't saturate or vigorously rub it while cleaning — and never immerse leather in water.