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  New leather hides are supple yet firm, stuffed with oils and moderately acidic. The goal in caring for leather is to keep it that way, even through years of use.

According to most leather experts, the best way to accomplish that is to treat it similar to our skin: keep it clean and moisturize it.

Leather should be cleaned regularly by working up a lather with a mild soap and as little water as possible. The best soap will be non-alkaline, with a low pH. Some better cleaners contain glycerine, an ingredient which attracts moisture from the air and helps keep the leather softer.

When cleaning, should work up a lather with a sponge and rinse often. They should change the water often to avoid putting dirt back into the leather.

Use a soft toothbrush to reach into stitching, tooling and other crevices. Strong cleaners and detergents should not be used on leather, except to spot-clean bad stains before going over the entire leather surface using your mild leather cleaner.

After the leather is clean, you should wipe away all soap with a clean, damp sponge, especially in and around small crevices and stitching. Allow the leather to dry naturally, never in direct sunlight.

Conditioning Leather after the leather is clean and dry

Leather should be moisturized to replenish any oils which were lost over time or removed during the cleaning process. The leather should also be conditioned between regular cleaning, depending upon the building’s interior climate and the degree of wear the surface receives.

In general, leather conditioning products are best when they are light, spread easily, absorb into the surface, will not rub off on clothing, will not permanently darken the leather’s colour and are similar to the oils used by curriers to manufacture the leather.

To condition leather, you should carefully spread a thin coating of the conditioning product over the entire surface. Use a clean, dry sponge, and not the same sponges that were just used for cleaning and removing dirt and soap.

Again, the leather should be allowed to dry naturally. If time permits, it may be lightly buffed afterwards to a nice matte finish.

Some problems:

Dirt and moisture create an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and mould that eat away at the stitching that holds a leather surface together.

Artile by: Rodel Garcia, a housekeeper @ BC Children's and Women's Hospital.

  :: The Irish Federation of Master Tradesmen :: IFMT Certified Master Tradesmen and Contractors
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