Cleaning and Conditioning Vintage Leather

Cleaning And Conditioning Vintage Leather

Cleaning and conditioning leather is very simple if you think of leather-like skin. Just as you need to clean and moisturize your skin, leather needs to be maintained in the same way to stay supple, pliable, and resilient. If you keep your skincare in mind while caring for your vintage leather jacket, hat, or another leather item, it is sure to outlast you.

What To Avoid 

Moving or bending and flexing old leather before it’s been conditioned enough to restore lubricity (enough treatment that the leather is soft and supple again).

  • Pouring anything on antique leather.
  • Washing the leather or using water on it.

It is important to be careful with untreated antique leather. Old leather tends to be dry and stiff because it has lost most or possibly all of its natural oils and any previous conditioners.

With the right care, you can restore antique leather so that it is soft and supple again, but you must proceed carefully. But Incase if it is ruined, then you can also use Leather Repair Kit Couches. ( are easily available on Amazon). 

When antique leather items are found in a dirty condition, it compounds whatever flaking, cracking, and other problems they may have underneath the dirt.

If this is the situation, a lot of personal judgment must be used before the decision is made to clean the piece.

Even if it is dirty, you do not want to wash or put any water on antique leather, if possible. Since it is very dry and stiff, cold water will harm the old leather, possibly stiffening it to the point of cracking.

Instead, use a soft-bristled brush, such as a shaving brush or natural bristle paintbrush, to gently brush away surface dirt.

You never want to pour anything on antiquity. Doing so can dramatically darken the leather. Liquids will absorb so quickly that it will oversaturate the leather, which is not what you want, either

Professional Leather Cleaning

If you have a very special or very delicate leather item, or if you do not want to take any chances of cleaning it yourself, there are professional leather cleaners that can do it for you.

Many dry cleaners offer leather-cleaning services through which your leather is sent off-site to a professional cleaning company and then returned to the dry cleaners.

Although professionals, slight variations in color, texture, do this process and shape may result, so be sure to clean matching garments together even if only one piece is dirty.

Cleaning at Home

In many cases, all that is necessary to clean leather is a damp cloth or a store-bought leather cleaner. This will remove any surface dust or dirt. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using a cleaner specifically for leather.

If the leather has been in contact with perspiration, water, or is stiff, you may need a more substantial method to cleanse it.

Hand Washing

Treat or remove any stains on the leather before washing it.

Using warm soapy water made with a gentle cleanser like baby shampoo, Dove (unscented), or soap flakes, rub the leather with a soft cloth to produce a lather in any area you want to clean.

Wipe Away Excess Lather with a Clean Cloth

Rinse leather thoroughly either by running through warm water or wiping several times with a damp cloth.

Allow leather to dry flat in a warm place out of direct sunlight and away from a strong heat source (fire, heater, stove, etc.)

Washing Leather In A Washing Machine

Some people claim that leather can be washed using a washing machine set on a very gentle (wool or delicate) setting with warm or cool water.

This method may not be worth the risk if you are washing a very old vintage piece.

If you choose to use this method, DO NOT use any detergent meant for washing clothes other than Woolite or Soap Flakes.

Also, do not use more soap than is necessary to make the water slippery with a small number of bubbles. Too much soap will make the leather dry and stiff!

Once the leather has completely dried, then it is time to condition it!

Conditioning Vintage Leather

Conditioning leather replaces the tanning oils that are depleted over time through wear, heat, and moisture. Reconditioning leather every 6-9 months will ensure that it never becomes stiff, dry, or cracked.

A leather conditioner is necessary for this step. There are hundreds of products available for this task, so read the label before using a leather conditioner to be sure that that particular product is suitable for your vintage leather item.

Note: Do not use leather conditioners that contain waxes or silicone, which do not allow the leather to breathe.

Always use a lint-free soft cloth when conditioning leather; microfiber cloths are ideal.

Dampen the cloth with water before applying the conditioner to it so that there is not too much conditioner applied to the leather.

NEVER apply conditioner directly to the leather: apply to a cloth first.

Apply conditioner to leather by gently rubbing into the lie or nap of the leather until the entire surface has been covered.

Several light applications are preferred over a heavy soaking of conditioner.

Allow conditioner to penetrate the conditioner for at least 30 minutes before applying another coat.

Leave a Comment