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The Ultimate Guide to Leather Care


The Ultimate Guide to Leather Care

From handbags and purses to journals and wallets, we want you to enjoy your leather goods for a lifetime. From the moment they're crafted and until they arrive in your arms, they need to be cared for properly.

With our handy guide, your most treasured pieces will look beautiful for years to come. Covering all day-to-day care and maintenance to small repairs and specialist cleaning, here you'll find everything there is to know about leather care.


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HOW TO LOOK AFTER YOUR LEATHER GOODS

By taking time to care for your leather, you will uphold the value and maintain the appearance of your most treasured pieces.

Everyday Care

Looking after your leather goods starts with day-to-day care. By following just a few simple rules, you can avoid unnecessary wear and tear and extend the life of your accessories for years:

  • Leather is a skin, and it can stretch. Avoid overfilling your handbag, purse or wallet to maintain its original silhouette
  • Take extra care with leather items you use often. Take the time each week to wipe away dust and spots with a soft cloth or brush
  • Scratches can detract from a flawlessly crafted piece. Take care to avoid contact with heavily embellished clothes, sharp surfaces or chunky jewellery when you're out and about.
  • Wet leather requires extra care, so if rain is forecast, remember to take an umbrella
  • Remember to air your leather goods out occasionally to remove any unwanted smells and scents

Storage

Storing your leather appropriately is one of the easiest ways you can prevent damage and maintain a high-quality finish:

  • Store leather away from direct sunlight as this can cause fading
  • Store handbags in a dust bag to avoid scratches
  • Avoid using plastic bags, they prevent good ventilation
  • Store leather away from artificial sources of heat. e. radiators can cause leather to dry and crack

Specific products

Everyday care and thoughtful storage will go a long way in maintaining the life of your favourite leather accessories, however specific products may require different care techniques.

Handbags

Although it's tempting to leave our handbags packed with our daily essentials ready for the next day, instead take the time to empty them completely to avoid warping. Once empty, you can maintain the handbag's silhouette by gently filling it with plain, acid-free tissue paper.

If you are planning to leave your bag in storage for an extended period - until next season, for example - you might also like to take the time to wrap hardware such as zips and clasps in tissue paper to avoid them creating any unwanted imprints on your leather.

The next stage is to cover your bag, preferably in the dust bag in which it arrived with - these are cut to the right size to avoid squashing and warping. If you no longer have the original dust bag, a white cotton pillowcase can be an ideal substitute. (Coloured fabrics may transfer onto the surface of the leather.)

Once covered, place your covered handbag away from direct sunlight and artificial sources of heat. Be sure to stand it on its base rather than hanging it up can stretch the handles. Additionally, take care to choose a spot that is tall enough to allow the handles to stand up unimpeded. Doing otherwise can cause them to become bent or misshapen.

When you've taken such care with your handbag at home, it's important to extend the consideration to other environments. Invest in a handbag hook to keep your bags safely close to hand and away from dirty, rough floors and surfaces.

Purses

Purses come in a variety of sizes and silhouettes to accommodate your needs. Select a style that fits your requirements and decreases the risk of stretching the leather by not overfilling its various pockets, compartments and card slots.

When carrying your purse in a handbag, you can prevent scratches and imprints simply by storing your purse in a separate compartment or a designated zip pocket in the lining. It's good practice to gently wipe or brush your purse regularly to remove the daily build up of dust and dirt which can build up.


Travel bags

While leather travel bags are designed with durability and the wear and tear of travel in mind, there are a few easy steps you can take to preserve the quality and finish of your suitcase, cabin bag or weekend bag.

Before and after travel, when your bag is in your care, always stand it on its wheels or protective feet rather than on its side to minimise contact with the floor.

In transit, make use of a protective luggage cover in order to avert the possibility of scratches when your travel bag is in the hold amongst tens or even hundreds of others.

In between trips, empty your travel bag and store it in its protective bag in a spot that comfortably accommodates it without the need for folding handles or tightly packing it against any other accessories.

Briefcases

Maintain a briefcase's refined and professional finish by taking care to stand it upon the protective brass feet whenever possible - this will avoid unnecessary wear on the leather.

Avoid putting excess strain on its zips and hardware by not overfilling it with heavy laptops and contents. If you are required to pack your briefcase within a larger travel bag when working overseas, ensure it is safeguarded within a protective bag.

Gloves

Given that we wear gloves during a season of unpredictable weather, they're often exposed to a variety of elements. Should your gloves get wet from snow or rain, allow them to dry naturally away from sunlight and any artificial heat such as radiators.

If you happen to drop a glove and need to clean it, begin by gently wipe it down with a soft brush or cloth. Next, prepare a solution of soap flakes and hot water. Wear the affected glove as you normally would and use a sponge to clean the area. Take care not to oversaturate the leather and dab away any excess water. Once clean, leave your glove or gloves to dry in a cool, dry place, putting them on from time to time will help to maintain their shape.

Albums and Journals

Leather albums and journals often preserve precious memories, so it's important to preserve the books themselves. To achieve this, wash your hands before handling them so as not to transfer any residue or dirt to the leather surface. We also advise that you polish or buff them with a clear wax to hydrate and maintain the leather covers.

When storing your cherished albums and journals on a shelf, keep them out of direct sunlight and give your shelves room to breathe. Books stacked on shelves too tightly may crack at the spine, while books stacked too loosely may sag and warp. Aim for gentle support and, when removing them from the shelf, it's important to pull from the middle, as hooking your finger over the top of the spine can create a stretched and misshapen finish.


Belts

As belts are an accessory that many of us wear every day, it's important to rotate them in order to extend their lifespan. Identifying the correct fit will also support their longevity; preventing stretching.

When not wearing your belt, gently wipe away any dust or debris and hang it by the buckle in a cool, dry space away from direct heat or sunlight. By allowing a belt to hang flat rather than rolling it up, you will avoid any imprints from the hardware and maintain its original shape.


How to clean and maintain your leather goods


Dos and Don'ts

  • Don't machine wash leather
  • Don't get leather wet wherever possible
  • Don't dry wet leather next to a radiator or with a hair dryer
  • Don't tumble dry leather
  • Don't iron leather
  • Don't immerse leather in water to clean
  • Do regularly clean leather with a soft brush or cloth
  • Do regularly air out leather
  • Do blot away water or moisture as soon as possible
  • Do dry wet leather naturally, away from artificial heat
  • Do keep leather supple with a specialised leather conditioner every 3-6 months
  • Do clean spots and stains with a mixture of soap flakes and warm water
  • Do use a steam cleaner to disinfect and remove buildup from regular use
  • Do test any conditioners, cleaners, polishes or wax in a hidden spot beforehand

Maintenance

Leather is loved for its visual nuances; varying textures, delicate shifts in tone, slowly developing patinas and subtle signs of a life well loved and used. When working with such a versatile and multi-faceted material, the maintenance choices you make can shape the appearance of your leather goods for years to come; allowing you to truly tailor them to your individual style.

Polishing leather, for instance, maintains its original shine. This process is ideal for high gloss, formal or eveningwear accessories which you would like to keep in pristine condition. You may prefer, however, to allow more casual, functional pieces such as duffel bags or hobo bags to weather and develop their own unique characteristics. In this case, regular dusting and a simple wipe with a damp cloth from time to time will certainly suffice.

Smooth, fine and patent leathers will benefit from a soft leather cream to nourish, hydrate and preserve their supple qualities. Gentle creams and conditioners may also be used to remove light scratches. Where bright colours are concerned, polish can be used to spot buff scratches and scuffs, while specialist colour restoring balms are ideal for a full rejuvenation.

Cleaning different types of leather

We love leather and celebrate all its forms. However, this does mean that it's important to clean and care for them according to their individual qualities.


Black/Ebony

Black and ebony leather is forgiving in that the dark colour can hide a multitude of sins. However, it's still important to clean and care for your black leather goods. Regular soft brushing and semi-regular cleaning with a damp cloth will keep your accessories in good shape.

Cream/Ivory

Leather in lighter tones is more susceptible to noticeable wear and tear. A white bag worn with indigo jeans, for instance, may be subject to colour transfer, so cleaning is essential to maintain a pristine finish.

Before cleaning, be sure to wipe away any dust with a soft cloth. Subtle marks may be buffed away with a solution of soap flakes and warm water but tougher stains will need a little more work. Methylated spirits or rubbing alcohol will work to remove ink stains, while absorbent powders such as corn starch or baking powder can be utilised to tackle oil and grease. Once your bag is clean, it's wise to apply a protective spray to safeguard against further marks or stains.

Deep shine/patent

Scuffs can interrupt the luxurious appeal of a patent or high shine accessory; however, they can be removed with little effort. If your patent bag, purse or accessory is looking a little dull, a wipe with a damp cloth may be all you need to remove dust and build up and restore the original shine.

If there are more concentrated scuffs to tackle, specially formulated patent leather cleaners are available. Alternatively, simple household items can also be very effective: Apply petroleum jelly or olive oil to the affected area with a soft cloth, leave for a few minutes then gently buff away.


Michigan

Michigan leather is renowned for its unique finish; showcasing the natural characteristics of the hide. The authentic, tactile disposition of the fabric means it may scratch more easily, however a simple polish with a soft, dry cotton cloth will buff any scratches away.

In order to embrace the individual patina that each Michigan leather product develops, we advise against using cleaning agents or solvents.

Multifaceted

When cleaning multifaceted leather pieces such as a Brit collection clutch bag or a Zig Zag Strap, it's important to treat differing finishes and materials individually.

A soft brush or cloth can be used to clean the entire area; however further cleaning should take individual qualities into account. A robust leather exterior, for example, may be cleaned with a damp cloth while a suede inlay should not come into contact with water.

Saffiano

Created with a stamping method, Saffiano leather has a signature textured finish. This cross-hatch texture coupled with the wax treatment makes it incredibly durable and stain resistant. In order to avoid damaging the specialised finish, only clean your Saffiano leather products with a soft damp cloth or a specific leather cleaning solution.

Smooth

Special care should be taken to preserve the finish of smooth leather. As such, it's important to avoid using abrasive cleaning methods.

Begin by brushing with a soft bristle brush and wipe away any excess dust or debris with a cotton or micro-fibre cloth. Next nourish the surface with a gentle, leather conditioner, taking care to test it on an inconspicuous spot beforehand.

Textured leather

When cleaning textured leathers such as lizard, pebble and silk print, always be sure to work with the grain.

While standard cleaning methods such as soap and water and specialised leather cleaning solutions can be applied, it's important to thoroughly remove any product build up from grooves and crevices after cleaning. This can be achieved by gently buffing your products with a soft brush.

How to clean specialist materials

Exotic and delicate leathers and materials must be cleaned with extra care to uphold their sumptuous nature.

Buffalo hide and snakeskin

Buffalo hide and snakeskin are coveted for their exquisite textures and should be carefully cleaned accordingly. Continuous friction may cause fur and scales to wear away, so take care to treat the surfaces gently with a non-abrasive cloth and work with the grain of the texture.

A damp cloth will remove dust and debris from snakeskin. However, do not over saturate the skin with water and ensure you allow it to dry naturally, away from artificial heat.

Buffalo hide will require soft brushing in the direction of the fur to loosen any build-up of dirt. Once clean, store your buffalo and snakeskin accessories away from direct sources of heat.

Suede and nubuck

Water and oil can stain suede and nubuck, so dry cleaning methods are advisable.

Begin by using a suede brush to lift away any dust and dirt and, if a little extra help is required, apply a short burst of steam.

Light oily or greasy marks can be lifted out by applying cornflour overnight and gently brushing away the excess afterwards, while for tougher stains, it's advisable to use a dedicated suede or nubuck cleaning solution.

Print

Printed leather can be treated much like any other; dusted with a soft brush or cleaned with a damp cloth.

However, colour based balms and polishes should be avoided as they may alter the appearance of the print, and any conditioners or protective sprays should first be tested on an inconspicuous area such as a corner or under a pocket flap.

Velvet

Velvet is a sumptuous and luxurious fabric and should be treated with the utmost care.

Wet conditions should be avoided and water should not be used during the cleaning process, accidental spills can be blotted away with a clean, dry cloth. You may smooth the pile with a soft brush or the palm of your hand but ensure you do not vigorously rub the surface.

For stains and more thorough cleaning, we recommend using a professional dry-cleaning service.


How to remove deep scratches

While faint scratches can be taken care of with a little polishing, deep scratches require further attention.

First, it's important to carefully clean the area with a damp cloth and allow the surface to dry. Next, assess the surface. If the colour is scratched but the surface remains intact, buff the scratch with a soft dry cloth and slowly apply thin layers of a matching colour balm. Blot any excess and protect from further scratches with a leather protector.

When a scratch has compromised the surface, a leather filler should be used to restore the even finish before buffing and applying a colour balm. For particularly deep scratches that require filler, we recommend consulting our very own warranty and repair surface.

Aspinal's warranty and repair service

While we handcraft our products with the highest quality in mind, we offer a 1-year manufacturer's warranty in order to ensure that you are completely happy with your Aspinal product.

On the rare occasion that a product may begin to show any faults such as a broken zip or loose hardware, it can be returned to us to be repaired. Once received, we will assess the fault and take the most appropriate avenue in order to return your product to you in the condition you are able to expect from Aspinal.

As our craftsmen tackle each repair individually, this may take up to six weeks. Should you have any queries, our customer service team are on hand throughout the week to assist in any way possible.

Leather for Life

At Aspinal of London, we choose to work with leather for its robust yet luxurious qualities which simply cannot be bettered.

Each product and accessory is truly unique, gathering its own characteristics and defining features over time. It tells an individual story and answers to your lifestyle. Such an exceptional material certainly qualifies for a little nurturing and, if you keep our guide in mind, your leather will last a lifetime.

For up-to-date insights into the Aspinal world, our heritage and our new collections, follow our blog. To discover an array of inspiration and join in the conversation, meet us over on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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