Today I want to talk about leather care, why it's very important to keep up maintain your leather because if you don't, you'll start to notice uneven wear across leather and leather can be very expensive to fix to repair to replace and having messed up leather just really brings down the look of your whole leather look.
Prevent Leather From Cracking & Tearing
When I get this question about how I can prevent this, my first response is this: what dye are you using 99 out of 100 times is alcohol dye that's exactly wrong. Alcohol dye is very harsh to the leather, it's going to dry it out almost immediately and it's going to make it very stiff.
Also, avoid the straight sunshine on the leather that will cause the leather to fade and crack.
So say we're using the belt as an example, I'd use belt with alcohol dye based and I let that dry do my bend back for my buckle which I guarantee you that's going to crack every time. Now I only use oil dye. How do we combat this problem, first of, if I'm stamping or carving, I'm going to make my folds or mold lines or Bend backs when my leather is wet with water when it dries all I have to do is add the oil dye, don't have to fold or Bend with no cracking possible.
If I'm not stamping or carving and I'm going straight to dye. Make all the bends or fault lines when my leather is wet with dye. Now alcohol is almost impossible but with an oil dive, we should get about two or three hours of dry time, ample time to make nice clean bends and bend backs and you won't have cracking.
You have to use a leather conditioner to actually help keep the leather supple so leather conditioner is like lotion for your leather and that just helps to keep your leather soft and supple. It helps to prevent things like this cracking which just comes from mechanical wear from being rubbed over and over and over again.
Repair For Leather Cracking
With any other leather care regimen you need to start with a nice cleaner which has no color no odor and it's very gentle so the cleaner on its own is not going to dry out the leather, it's not going to ruin the soft feel, it's just going to remove any dirt or oil and to help you clean and maintain the leather as well as it should be.
You can just use a baby wipe or towel, it's soft on the leather but it wipes dirt really well so to clean off things like leather I'm just going to spray a couple sprays here on the wipe and wipe the leather easily.
If you use your leather products everyday you're probably going to want to clean your leather like maybe once a month once every two months for sure to get all the dirt and contamination off and then you're going to want to condition it maybe three or four times a year especially if you have a convertible just to keep it all soft and clean.
Use the same baby wipe or towel, put a few dabs leather conditioner on it. If you ever have leather with perforations in the leather that's easy to dress as well. We get a lot of questions on how to care for perforated leather if you're ever in doubt you don't want to sink a lot of product into those holes you know that will mess up your clothing potentially or whatever just take your towel or your applicator and you can actually spread the same way, put a couple dabs on your microfiber piece but then just sort of spread it around like that on the towel first so when you go to spread it you're getting a nice thin coat.
It's just on the surface you're not going to mess up the foam or anything underneath the leather, this is already helping out this leather a whole lot. You can see that the leather restoring even the color back, it will look deep black again so we're kind of nourishing this dried up skin but at this point there's really nothing we can do that's going to help restore the original look.
Leather is real skin and if you don't care for it, it'll get sunburnt and it'll dry out and it'll crack and break just like real skin so you need to take care of leather as you go, you can't let it get far gone and then expect to put sunscreen on it, it's the same as your body if you get in an accident or something and you know it will mess up your skin you're going to have a scar it's the same thing so another trick you can use on your leather pieces like seats and upholstery.
Another product you can use is leather serum so leather serum is similar to the conditioner but it actually helps to protect leather a little better so you can think about the serum like sunscreen for leather. It helps to block more UV sunlight from the leather and helps to block out some staining from liquids or from body oils things like that so it actually helps to protect your leather.
Repair For Small Tearing
When we get a tear on our leather product, we've got a kind of suede on the back, and you can see the substrate. The most important part of a repair like this is that you need to create a new substrate, because if you just glue the surface down it's going to have sort of craters of the moon look, and it's not going to last very long either.
So we recommend starting with a patch that you would use on your jeans, and cutting, cutting it a little bit larger than the tear itself, and round your edges. If you don't round your edge, you'll find that they tend to buckle and wrinkle, and it just makes for a harder time to insert the patch and get a nice, smooth surface.
You can round the edges, and grab the tweezers and stuff it. And this is the same logic as slapping some duct tape on the surface, except that it looks a lot better, but it creates a new substrate. You're creating a new homogeneous surface for everything to flow with everything else, because this leather is a floating surface.
Now feel thoroughly around the edges of it. If you feel a bump somewhere you need to come back in and work it and get it totally smooth, because any little bump or imperfection will translate in appearance later.
Once you feel it all smooth, start with fabric and plastic glue, which is very flexible. We need something really strong that dries flexibly. And grab yourself a toothpick or a large needle, and keep a paper towel handy, just in case you may make a mess. Load it up on the suede side or on the patch.
Be careful and quickly wipe off your excess, and piece it back together as much as you can. If you have a really nasty tear that has, you know, different layers and edges, you may have to carefully piece them back together to get a really nice effect, and you may even have to practice that technique a bit before you actually do the gluing process.
You can use a board or a book, and apply even firm pressure to get a nice smooth surface. And give the glue a little time to dry, and you should see when you're done that you've got a new substrate, and it's pretty much shored up, and ready to go. You can even just leave it at that, and it's a huge improvement over the gaping hole that you had previously.
Now if you want to go a step farther and get a more aesthetic repair, you can use some super glue. Put your super glue in the crack, and you do want to work minimally. Use your toothpick or needle to work it into that line and then grab your paper towel and sort of tap off the excess. The paper towel also creates a wonderful sort of texturizing effect. And then grab your sandpaper.
If you had a rougher leather, you can use a 220 grit to start. You could also use a 320 or 500 grit, and sand in the direction of the tear. Nubuck and suede have a fuzzy nap and do not create dust when sanded, so this method can't be used to repair them. And you'll see, you may not be able to see on film, but you will see that the leather creates a fine dust, and the super glue is just sucking it up and filling that tear. Tap off your excess, and sand. And let your fingers be the judge too.
You need to see it visually, obviously, how it looks, but your fingers will tell you a lot, and if you feel a slight ridge, don't worry about it. It's not going to look any worse than a cattle scar elsewhere on the leather product.
And if you want to see, if you're wondering where you're at in the process, you can use a leather restore conditioner and apply a thin layer. If you're working with vinyl you need to do that, and thoroughly dry it, because the conditioner is what's going to be creating the dust for you, whereas, you know, the leather does that on its own. The other great thing about using conditioners in the repair process is that it gives you instant feedback about how your repair looks. Just put some on the tearing part, tap it around, get your hair dryer, and dry it. And you can see how easy it is.