How To Care for Fine Leather

by Michael Satterfield

Be it a nice jacket or the perfect weekender bag, quality leather products are a major investment. While the upfront cost may seem high, with proper care and maintenance, leather can last years and even be passed down to future generations. While most guys don't think about maintaining their wardrobe, luggage, or jackets, these simple steps can help your leathergoods last a lifetime. 


Leather is organic, so the environment you store it in can have a major impact on longevity. While dry environments can lead to cracking or dry rot, humidity can cause mildew to form. If you are going to be storing your leather goods for a long time, putting them in a dust cover or cloth garment bag is a great way to keep them dust-free and ready to use when needed. Avoid plastic or non-porous materials so your leather can breathe. For leather shoes, if you aren't wearing them, cedar shoe trees should be kept in them to help maintain their shape.


Cleaning and conditioning your leather is important for natural leathers. If you happen to get your leather wet let it air dry completely before you put it away. Also, don't use artificial heat to speed up the drying process as it can cause damage. You should regularly clean and condition your leather products. Saddle soap is great for your natural leather goods and conditions as it cleans. Avoid using animal fats and alcohol products when cleaning, fats can cause the thread to rot and alcohol dries out leather. In the case of suede, don't use Saddle Soap and avoid getting it wet, you can use a small suede brush for cleaning, but suede is tricky and best left to a professional.

Don't Overtreat:

Most leather doesn't need to be waterproofed and many a nice leather jacket has been ruined by the use of waterproofing sprays and waxes. In general, leather doesn't need to be waterproofed, the only exception would be for those who are using leather hiking boots and need to keep their feet dry. When in doubt reach out to the manufacturer to see what their recommendations are for their product, many leather brands sell their own cleaners, waterproofing agents, and can better guide you on the proper way to care for your product.