But premature wear-and-tear can be halted or reversed. All it takes is an understanding of how certain elements affect leather and knowing how to counteract the damage.
Let’s take a look at some common causes of leather degradation, along with tools and tips to keep your leather apparel and accessories in the best shape possible for years to come.
Common Threats to Leather Accessories
Leather, in all its splendour, is under attack at any given moment. Leather fibres are constantly changing in regards to their consistency and strength. They’re highly sensitive to their immediate environment, and that’s why improper storage or handling can damage your items.
What’s Threatening Your Leather Accessories
- Cracking and peeling leather - The unsightly appearance of cracking or peeling leather usually occurs in leather that’s bonded - a synthetic variant that lacks the strength of genuine leather. However, cracking and peeling can affect higher quality leather as well. The typical cause is drying out of the material due to low humidity and a resulting loss of moisture.
- Discolouration of leather - Leather accessories can lose their natural colour over time, making them look gloomy, and frankly, quite ugly. What’s the culprit? Exposure to light, oils, dust, dirt, and temperatures that alter the pH balance of leather.
- Mould growth on leather - It’s gross to think that the same stuff that can grow on expired cheese can find shelter in your leather goods. Mould can sprout on leather and ruin its look and make it stink. It shows its face when leather accessories are stored in areas plagued with high humidity, warm temperatures and poor ventilation.
- Unpleasant odour - Leather smells great when it’s new but over time, it can start to reek. Sweat, mould, food, smoke, perfume and other offending substances can transfer odours to leather goods. Keep in mind that leather, especially the synthetic types, soak up odours that are hard to remove.
- Leather looseness & wrinkles - Leather can get loose and stretchy over time, leading to a warped shape of your item. Loose leather often looks wrinkled and gets this look when it’s stuffed in places or positions that cause it to bend or flex unnaturally.
How to Store Leather Accessories to Prevent Damage
The reality is that leather will experience wear-and-tear over time - it’s inevitable. But the rate at which this degradation happens can be slowed dramatically if you treat your leather accessories with some TLC. In fact, it’s not uncommon for most leather items to last for decades when they’re cleaned and stored properly.
Keep Your Leather Out of Harm’s Way
- Store it a neutral, temperate environment - The biggest threats to leather accessories are temperature, light and moisture/humidity. Therefore, you need to find a cool, dry and “darker” (not necessarily dark) spot to keep your leather items. This can be a closet, a storage unit or if your budget allows, a dehumidifying cabinet. Also, avoid keeping it in a cluttered area where other items might crush your items.
- Keep smelly items outside/away from it - Leather has strong absorption power, meaning that it can soak in odours. This is a problem for items such as leather bags and totes since some people might put snacks or other scented-goods in them. The simple fix is to keep malodorous items outside and away from your leather accessories. If that’s not possible, you’ll need to use scented wipes or a spray to keep the odours out. Also, regular cleaning will reduce the presence of strong odours.
- Wipe it down and use conditioners - Thorough and regular cleaning can greatly reduce issues such as odours and mould growth. Diluted alcohol or vinegar is effective at neutralizing microorganisms as well as unpleasant odours. Additionally, the use of leather conditioners will prevent damage to the fibres that give your leather items their strength and natural appearance.
- Buy 100% genuine leather - If you’re thinking of buying new leather accessories soon, then you should opt for the highest grades of leather. Full-grain leather is the creme-de-la-creme of the leather world, not just for its look, but for its durability. It’s not immune to damage, but it’s far more resistant to the elements. Here at Hides Canada, our specialty is offering full-grain leather accessories, jackets, bags and more.
Long Live Leather
Leather is the Superman of clothing and gear materials - it’s impervious to most things but has its kryptonite. If exposed to harsh treatment or elements, your leather goods will start to degrade faster than nature intended them to.
So be vigilant.
Make sure to store your leather accessories and apparel in a safe environment and give it regular care to slow down its natural wear-and-tear. By doing so, you will enjoy and perhaps extend the lifespan of your leather accessories.