Caring For Leather:: There are three stages in leather care that include Cleaning, Conditioning, and Protection.
To clean a leather item, first choose a cleaner that will help preserve the natural lubricating oils instead of stripping them out of the leather. For example, saddle soap is a commonly used product for equestrian tack. It is meant to be used as a cleaner and a protector from moisture, but it strips the leather of the oils in the process of attempting to do two jobs at once. The cleaner of your choice should not leave any greasy residue behind. Residue makes leather susceptible to bacteria and can break down the stitching of your item. Another cleaning product to consider having in your leather care collection is a NuBuck cleaning cloth. They have an astonishing ability to clean and restore leather to its original look. Also, Dawn dish soap (diluted) when used with a sponge to gently clean the leather works too. Let air dry, then adding conditioner will keep the leather soft and supple.
Leather conditioners are meant for occasional use. They contain fats and/or oils that help lubricate leather and replenish the suppleness. Look for a product that will penetrate the strong fibers in leather, but beware of any that include petroleum or mineral oils. While petroleum by-products won't damage your leather immediately, they do over a period of time. Again, just as with cleaning, keep on the look-out for thick, greasy conditioning treatments for the best care of your leather.
Moisture barriers are extremely crucial in preventing rain or other liquid hazards from damaging leather. Stiffness and spouting will happen if leather isn't protected beforehand. There is a drawback in protecting leather with a moisture barrier product. They tend to fill in the pores with a greasiness that makes cleaning, conditioning, and polishing difficult. However, it's a necessary process to ensure leather isn't destroyed. Periodically apply a moisture barrier and allow it time to penetrate and dry before using your leather item.
To remove mildew from leather, create a mixture of one-cup rubbing alcohol per one-cup of water. Wipe the mildew area with a cloth dipped in the diluted alcohol. Then allow the leather to dry. If the mildew persists, use mild soap and water that contains a germicide, then remove with a clean dampened cloth and allow it to dry.
An important key to keeping leather in top-notch condition is to treat wet leather before it has a chance to dry. Remove any dirt, mud, or other stains with a cleaning agent, then condition while the pores are still fully responsive. It is critical to remember that leather should be dried away from heat. If the leather in question is a garment, it's a good idea to stuff the garment to retain shape.
Remember that leather is a natural material and should never be “stored” in plastic because it encourages the growth of mildew and bacteria and will ruin the leather. Always store leather in a cool, dry place that is away from any heat source. If the leather item is a garment, store in a breathable bag.
Fresh stains from things such as blood or food can be cleaned up quickly with a damp cloth. Stains from oil or grease can be lifted by grinding ordinary blackboard chalk, sprinkling the area, and leaving the powder on for a twenty-four hour period. Resist the urge to rub the powder into the leather. After a sufficient time has past, simply use a leather care brush to remove the powder. While fresh stains can be treated and cleaned at home, ground-in stains should be attended to by a professional cleaner who deals in leather.