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Make leather products such as shoes, belts, wallets or even jackets "like new" again with cream shoe polish. If items are severely mared, use liquid dye first and then cream shoe polish to make them like new! Liquid dye is available at some shoe stores, especially ones that make steel-toed work shoes. I keep a bottle of black and brown on hand. Be sure to protect your work surface with newspaper and your hands with plastic gloves because the dye really dyes!
Joan in MN
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Would you please send me some economical tips on caring for leather jackets. I want to keep them supple and soft without having to purchase expensive leather care products.
Here are some tips that I have for you, our readers may have some more ideas. These tips should work well for just about any kind of real leather. Because there are so many good synthetic leathers and suedes, make sure that you are using these treatments on real leather.
Leather should be kept out of direct sunlight.
It dries it out. Obviously a coat is going to get some direct sunlight but the more you can limit it the better. For example, don't leave it in the back of your car on a hot day. Either put something on top of it or store it in your trunk.
Different types of leather also demand different types of care. Many people purchase what is called Naked Leather items, a much better grade of leather than standard protected leather. These leather goods have no sealant to protect them and are much softer than standard letaher goods. Also, they are much more affected by water and water will leave spots. If you have Naked Leather items and want the soft and good look of the leather to always show, it is best to purchase rain gear to cover the leather. Once its wet, water will show as dark spots. The only way to cure is to darken the whole item using a sealant/protector like mink oil.
Different types and qualities of leather also will wear different. For instance, pig skin has a tendency to dry out much more rapidly than good quality cow, buffalo or lamb. Pig skin is thinner leather. This dryness will be apparent in the color, it will be lighter, and the feel, it will be stiffer. If it gets too dry, it will eventually crack and your clothing will be destroyed. It is best to use a leather contioning product like mink oil to rehydrate the leather and prevent it from cracking. Most leather items made in China use Pig, so check the labels when buying. Pig is a very nice leather, it just needs to be taken care of more often.
Like the other advice above, keep your leather from heat and sunlight when possible. Thicker leather can handle much more light and heat than thinner leather. To see more on leather types see http://www.disc ain/Quality.html
Honestly the most effective way to care for leather is to closely evaluate a leather jacket prior to purchasing it. What is your intended use for the jacket? Everyday, or for special occasion? Who will be wearing it and how do they (or you) typcially care for clothing?
These quesions are not generally asked, it seems that buying a leather jacket is often a very "emotional" purchase, done for style or the "feel" of the jacket. Instead, if one reseached several jackets they like and learn what they are made of and how they will "fit" into thier lifestyle, they will wind up much happier with thier purchase.
Most people go for something "soft." Often these soft jackets are lambskin, which is tremendous in a mall store for trying on, but very difficult to take care of in the real world. It's thin, rips easily, shows scuffs and scratches, and has little if any real durability. No motorcyclist would consider lambskin for thier riding jacket. Consider a lambskin jacket if your intended use is special, dressy occasions only and you can really "put it away" the rest of the time.
The other type are the made in China pigskin jackets that you seen in an inexpensive store for around $50. These jackets usually have even less durability than lambskin, and they are harder to take care of, plus they do not have the softness of lamb or a well broken in cow hide jacket. Unless there is a special reason, these jackets are best avoided.
Third on this short list are good quality cow hide jackets. These jackets tend to weigh more, and be a bit stiffer on a store rack than a lambskin jacket. When one is tried on, it may be a bit stiff and uncomfortable. Think on the long-term here. If a baseball glove softens up with oil and consistant use, what would you suppose a cow hide jacket is going to do? The key is finding one that will fit correctly once it is broken in. It will need to be well oiled a few times a year, and waterproofed at least once a year, but the benefits are well worth it. If you don't mind a slightly adventurous style, try looking into designated motorcycle jackets. I am not refering to the $99 cheap ones that are seen in flashy ads. Instead, if you really want a jacket that will last for generations (literally) try looking up the website for a manufacturer such as Schott or Vanson, who both sell more normal-looking jackets as well as wild, flashy ones. Thier prices are higher than what you may expect, but they are generally much better products in the long run. They also have helpful information for the purchase of a quality jacket.
Think of a leather jacket as an investment. Enjoy your coat and enjoy having a second skin! (I have no connection to Schott or Vanson and am using thier names for referance only. This is not an attempt to sell thier products, just in case anyone wondered.)
Don't leave your favorite leather jacket or hand bag in the back of your car on sunny days. Heat and direct sun light can dry and bleach out the leather. When you store a leather jacket, give it room to breath. Don't apply hairspray or perfume while you are wearing your jacket, it can damage the finish. If your jacket gets wet, let it dry at room temperature.
Does it hurt a leather jacket to wear it in the rain?
Editor's Note: Margaret, it really depends on the type of leather and whether it has been oiled or weather proofed. If it is suede, unless it was weatherproofed, it could harm it. Leather like motorcycle jackets, can be oiled which will keep the leather from getting wet.
If leather does get wet, make sure you dry it very slowly. Heat can make leather hard and will make it more prone to cracking. Hope this helps.
I spilled food on a black leather coat and quickly wiped it off with a wet cloth. I was surprised to see that the cloth had become "black." The coat was seemingly unchanged. Any ideas?
I have a good leather jacket with light coloration in an area and a few streaks. Is there anything I can use to repair it. Linda Wilson""