Few things make us feel worse than when someone spends good money on a new leather shaving bag or leather tote only to have it looking used and abused just six or seven months down the road. Quality leather products should look good and last several years, not just several months—but you have to do your part to make that happen.
Here are five ways to ensure that brand new leather bag you just purchased will last a lifetime, and age as beautifully as Julia Roberts.
1. Keep your hands clean.
Hands are oily. Oil attracts dirt. And leather naturally absorbs any oil that touches it. The more you touch your leather bag, the more its color will darken over time, and it will also lead to stained spots where you touch it the most. Make sure to sparingly touch your bag, and when you do touch it, make sure your hands are clean. Also, don’t touch leather if you’ve just put lotion or cream on your hands.
2. Don’t let your leather bag get wet.
Never take your bag out on a rainy or snowy day because water is an enemy to leather. When leather gets wet, the water temporarily attaches to the leather’s oils, and then as the water dries it lifts the oils off the leather, which then leaves the leather dry. Moisture also leaves watermarks and can cause a leather bag to swell and lose its shape.
If your bag ever does get wet, blot the area dry with a clean towel as best you can, and then let it air dry. Never use a hair dryer or the clothes dryer to dry wet leather.
To be prepared for unwanted weather or spills, waterproof your leather products. You do this by spraying a water-resistant protectant spray all over the leather. Shake the bottle well before using and test the spray on a hidden spot to make sure it doesn’t ruin or change the leather’s color.
3. Don’t overstuff your leather bag.
Continuously overstuffing a leather bag will permanently change its shape. It will also strain the bag and its handles—not to mention your shoulders and back—and can stretch and possibly tear the leather. Think like a minimalist, and don’t carry too many objects or too heavy of objects inside your bag.
4. Use a leather cleaner and leather conditioner.
In wet environments, mold and mildew can start growing on leather, and in dry climates, like humans, leather can also get thirsty and crack. To keep leather products protected, supple and free of cracks, you should regularly clean and condition leather.
With a leather cleaner, rub the recommended cleaner onto your bag in a circular motion, let it sit for 15 or so minutes and then gently wipe the bag clean with a slightly damp cloth. To restore moisture, which you should do once a month or once a year depending on personal use, take a dab of leather conditioner on a soft cloth and rub the conditioner over the leather. Leather conditioning products can darken a leather’s current color, so if you’re worried about that happening, test your conditioner on a small, hidden area of your bag.
Never use cleaning products that contain alcohol or mineral oil, and be sure to clean and condition your leather products before storing them.
5. Store your leather bag properly.
When you’re not using your leather shaving bag, put it aside in a safe place and in the best condition. That means making sure the bag is dry before putting it away and keeping it dry while in storage by setting it upright on a shelf, not trapped inside a plastic tote or bag. To help the bag keep its shape, stuff it with bubble wrap or tissue paper, but don’t overstuff it.
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